Actors, musicians, and other noteworthy individuals bask in the celebrity spotlight, showcasing their skills and talents. But every celebrity started somewhere — some in more interesting positions than others. From prestigious roles in the medical field to unorthodox jobs at the morgue, here are five celebrities who worked surprising jobs before they entered the limelight.
5. Ken Jeong
You might recognize him from his hilarious roles in The Hangover and Pineapple Express. But did you know that Ken Jeong is actually a licensed physician? Jeong has said in interviews that he fell in love with performing when he was in medical school. During his residency, he would do stand-up comedy on the side. And while he had a passion for both acting and medicine, he eventually decided to pursue a full-time career as an entertainer. In 2006, he was scouted for a role in Knocked Up, which is when he officially transitioned into a career in acting.
4. Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman was already pursuing an acting career as a teenager, but before she could make her break and become a household name, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Devastated by the news, Kidman momentarily dropped her blooming career to train as a massage therapist. She did this to alleviate some of the strain of her mother’s treatment and to support her family financially. Only when her mother’s condition improved did she return to the silver screen. She went on to perform roles in movies like Days of Thunder, Moulin Rouge, and The Others.
3. Russell Crowe
Before Russell Crowe was belting out songs as Inspector Javert, he worked as a bingo caller, just a few kilometers off the coast of Auckland. But it wasn’t long before he landed a role in the New Zealand version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. After, he’d go on to act in plenty of films, with the most prominent being Gladiator. The film would go on to win five Academy Awards and is still been celebrated over 20 years later. The impact of this film cannot be understated as it led to a slew of releases across mediums based on the Roman period, from historical epics, like Centurion, Troy, and 300 to computer games like Rome Total War. Online, gaming company Foxy Bingo has a range of Roman titles, including Spartacus, Champions of Rome, and Centurion: Maximus Winnus (a play on Crowe’s character name), which draw from the swords-and-sandals epic that Gladiator portrayed. The main reason for this was Crowe’s Oscar winning performance. Which is why it’s now tough to believe that Crowe was fired from his job as a Bingo caller for being too much of a jokester.
2. Whoopi Goldberg
Before Whoopi Goldberg made a name for herself in The Color Purple, she worked at a morgue. How’s that for an odd Hollywood start? She worked as a morgue beautician to make ends meet in the Big Apple. Goldberg explained that she saw an ad for the job in the paper and decided to take it since she was a licensed beautician. Despite the bone-chilling nature of her job, it definitely helped her pay the bills and paved the way to her acting career.
1. Steve Buscemi
Steve Buscemi is known for his roles in critically-acclaimed television shows like The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire. He has an extensive body of work on the big screen too, appearing in blockbusters like Armageddon and Pulp Fiction. But before he graced big and small screens, he was a firefighter and served in Manhattan for four years, before quitting in 1984 to pursue his acting career. Then, on September 11, 2001, he decided to return to his roots and help out with the local fire department. Days after the tragedy, Buscemi worked 12 hours a day to assist in the rescue efforts. Now, he is continuing his acting career while also serving on the advisory board for Friends of Firefighters, a nonprofit organization.
Did any of these surprise you? It was definitely a shock to us! It’s interesting to see what kind of jobs celebrities had before gaining popularity. And it makes their rise to fame all the more satisfying. Want to read more about famous people? Check out our other celebrity lists here on Beaming Notes.