Say, do you remember the days before you were famous? Back when you were still driving a Honda Civic before upgrading to a Honda Accord and ordering a venti Starbucks latte instead of those grandes that you’re drinking these days? Your status as a celebrity was determined the moment you were born, but for a lot of famous folks, it was often about being in the right place at the right time or following advice that lead to unexpected fame. Here’s a list of a few celebrities who had no idea they would become such big stars.
1. Mel Gibson
Today we all know Gibson as a racist, anti-semitic douchebag, but if not for his sister only a few people would be aware of this. See, back in the 1970s when he was working at an orange juice bottling company, his sister Sheila filled out an application without his knowledge to enter the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney. He was accepted and, for better or worse, the rest is history.
2. Justin Bieber
If not for the fact of accidentally clicking on the wrong YouTube video, Bieber might be living in relative anonymity in Ontario, Canada. Searching for a different singer, producer Scooter Braun stumbled upon a video that featured Bieber singing at a local singing competition. Impressed, Braun tracked down the theater, school, and eventually Bieber’s mom.
3. Sarah Michelle Gellar
At the age of 4, Gellar was discovered by a talent agent while eating at a restaurant in Upper Manhattan. She was subsequently cast in a Burger King commercial in which she criticized rival McDonalds and declared that she only ate at Burger King. McDonalds actually responded by banning her from eating at their restaurant, which is seriously one of the worst punishments for a kid, especially when you can’t go to your friends’ birthday parties there!
4. Johnny Depp
Depp’s original plan was to make it big as a rock star. With his band The Kids, they went to LA to pursue a record deal. However, Lori Anne Allison, the future Captain Jack Sparrow’s first wife, introduced him to Nicolas Cage (!!!), who convinced Depp to get into acting instead and here we are.
5. Ellen Pompeo
Pompeo was working as a barmaid in Miami where she caught the eye of fashion photographer Andrew Rosenthal. They began dating and moved to New York City where Pompeo was approached by a casting director who got her some roles in a few commercials before her career really took off.
6. Jennifer Lawrence
While on vacation in New York City with her parents, Lawrence was spotted on the streets by a talent scout who took her number and convinced her to try acting. While casting directors were extremely impressed, her mom wasn’t as thrilled. She’s done pretty well for herself though, having been the highest paid actress in the world in 2015 and 2016 and winning an Oscar for Best Actress in 2012 for her lead role in Silver Linings Playbook.
7. Charlize Theron
As a teenager, Theron worked as a model, but dreamed of becoming a dancer. She attended the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School in New York, but had to give it up when a serious knee injury prevented her from continuing. After making her way to Los Angeles to try acting, she got into an argument with a bank teller who refused to cash a check that her mom had sent to help her pay the rent. A talent agent who happened to standing in line behind her was so impressed with her emotional outburst that he introduced her to casting agents and got her into an acting school.
8. Channing Tatum
Before getting into acting, Tatum was a college dropout who worked odd jobs as a roofer, an assistant at a vet clinic and even a stripper. He was spotted on a street in Miami by a scout and become a model for Abercrombie and Fitch as well as Armani. But before he made it onto the big screen, his first casting job was as a dancer in Ricky Martin’s 2000 video She Bangs. If you are too young to remember those days, be grateful!
9. Alexis Bledel
As a child, Bledel’s mom convinced her to try community theater in order to overcome her shyness. While performing at a shopping mall, a talent scout offered her a contract as a fashion model. From there, her unexpected career really took off.
10. Pamela Anderson
While attending a Canadian Football game, Anderson was spotted on the stadium Jumbotron wearing a Labatt’s Beer T-shirt. The brewing company promptly hired her to be its spokesmodel for a brief period of time before appearing as the covergirl on the October 1989 issue of Playboy. From there, she became the star that we all know today.