From prison to the pizza parlor, these stars got discovered in unexpected places.
Not everyone follows the traditional path to fame! While some actors move to Hollywood and spend their time meeting with agents and auditioning for roles, other actors get a little more lucky. In fact, sometimes opportunities fall right in the laps of some unsuspecting future celebrities.
Stars-to-be like Natalie Portman and Norman Reedus were simply in the right place at the right time when they got noticed by an agent or scout. From there, they took an expedited path to fame as they signed with managers or got recommended for major auditions. While these celebs may have gotten a little bit lucky, they definitely made the most of the opportunity they were given.
Read on to find out how these stars got discovered…
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1. Chris Pratt
Chris Pratt got discovered while he was waiting tables at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in Hawaii! Although he was originally from Minnesota, he ended up on the island after dropping out of college and holding odd jobs in a variety of places. One night at the restaurant he ended up serving actress and director Rae Dawn Chong and he decided to tell her about his acting ambitions. She ended up putting him in her movie “Cursed Part III” and although it never got released, it set Chris up for his acting career.
“I was like, ‘You’re in the movies, right? I always wanted to be in the movies.’ She said, ‘You’re cute. Do you act?’ I was like, f— it, ‘Goddamn right I act! Put me in a movie!’ The moment she told me she was bringing me to L.A., I knew. I was like, ‘This is what I’m going to do with the rest of my life,'” Chris told Entertainment Weekly.
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2. Charlize Theron
When Charlize Theron was 19 years old, she was studying ballet in New York. Unfortunately, her knees gave out and she had to shift her career aspirations to acting. She moved to LA but when she arrived, she had trouble getting roles and was living on money from a series of catalog modeling jobs. Things came to a head one day when she was attempting to cash a check from a job in New York and the bank teller refused to give her the money because it was from out-of-state. Charlize argued her case with the clerk to no avail — but things ended up working out anyway.
“I was trying to cash my last check from a modeling job in New York, but because it was an out-of-state check, the bank wouldn’t accept it — and I really needed the money. So I began pleading with this teller to help me…If I didn’t cash that check, I wouldn’t have had a place to sleep that night…I was begging and pleading, and a gentleman came over and tried to help…What I didn’t know is that I was auditioning for a guy who would end up being my manager. On the way out, the man who’d helped gave me his card. He said, ‘If you’re interested, I’ll represent you,'” Charlize told Oprah.
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3. Jennifer Lawrence
When Jennifer Lawrence was a young teen, she was discovered by a modeling scout while on vacation in New York City. The scout snapped a photo and she gave him her mom’s phone number. Pretty soon, her mom received a call that agents wanted to meet with Jennifer. Even though she hadn’t previously considered an entertainment career, Jennifer says she was suddenly set on the idea.
“In the cab ride from the hotel room, I decided I didn’t want to be a model, that, in fact, I wanted to be an actress, and I would only sign with an agency if they would let me audition for commercials and act as well. I don’t know where that came from. And one of them gave me a script, to audition the next day, and I read the script and it was the first time I had that feeling like ‘I understand this. This is the first time I’ve ever understood anything.’ I was 14,” Jennifer told Vanity Fair.
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4. Norman Reedus
Norman Reedus’ rise to fame can all be attributed to a drunken night out. After moving to LA for a relationship that didn’t work out, Norman took a job at a motorcycle shop. The job didn’t work out either and after getting fired, a friend took Norman for a night out, where he got a little too drunk. His drunken state ended up attracting the attention of a man who offered him a spot in a play and from there, things took off.
“I drank way too much and started yelling at a bunch of people. And then somebody approached me to be in a play…They said, ‘You’ll be the understudy’ so I thought I’d never even have to go on. And I went out the first night because the dude didn’t show up…A lady from the audience who’s now into casting…started sending [me] out and I booked some stuff and kept going,” Norman said on “The Tonight Show.”
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5. Danny Trejo
Before Danny Trejo was an actor, he served time in prison for a variety of offenses. While incarcerated, Danny became a prison boxing champion and when he was eventually released, he began a career as a youth drug counselor. Many years later, he received a call from one of the young men he was counseling, who said he was surrounded by drugs at work and needed some help.
When he arrived, he was surprised to discover he was actually on the set of the “Runaway Train” and the film was going to feature a scene where a character fought in a prison boxing match. On top of that, a fellow ex-con recognized Danny from his time spent boxing in jail and pretty soon he was offered a part in the movie and the opportunity to train other actors in the sport!
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6. Rosario Dawson
Rosario Dawson was literally discovered on the front steps of her home. Rosario was hanging out on her porch in New York City when she was approached by “Kids” director Larry Clark and writer Harmony Korine. The duo was on location scouting for the movie in which they were looking to cast non-actors. Rosario went in to audition and landed the role, kicking off her acting career.
“Larry said he was making his first movie and would I be interested. And Harmony was jumping up and down, like, ‘Oh my God, I wrote this character for you without even realizing. I didn’t even know you. You’re perfect for this character, you have to come in,'” she told Dazed.
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7. Alden Ehrenreich
Alden Ehrenreich got his start in Hollywood all thanks to a funny video that was shown at a bat mitzvah. When he was a teen, he signed on to be in the short which was played during his friend’s party and it just so happened that Steven Spielberg was an attendee at the big event. Despite the comical nature of the video, Steven saw something in Alden and helped him kick start his career.
“If I had any idea that anyone would see that, I probably wouldn’t have done it. It’s really funny that he could glean anything from that,” Alden told Vanity Fair.
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8. Charlie Hunnam
Charlie Hunnam’s career began with a bold move in a shoe store during the Christmas season. A teenage Charlie was in the holiday spirit when he went shopping for some last minute gifts in his hometown of Newcastle, England. When he noticed an older woman had been staring at him across the store, he decided to jokingly blow her a kiss — and she ended up approaching him. It turns out that she was the production manager for the English teen drama “Byker Grove.”
“I was obviously in high spirits — it was Christmas Eve and I was a little drunk — so I just blew her a kiss. She was older than me but she just sort of smiled a little, and then she came up to me and asked if I’d ever considered acting…and I said I was already in film school and it was my lifelong ambition to work in the film business,” Charlie said on “Live With Kelly And Ryan.”
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9. Mandy Moore
Mandy Moore has a FedEx employee to thank for her rise to fame. When she was just 14 years old, she rented out a studio to record a demo and was overheard by the employee who was making a delivery. It just so happened that the man also knew the head of Urban A&R at Epic Records through some mutual friends and her demo was sent off to the label.
“I had no idea at the time, but he talked to the studio managers and they all decided to send this unfinished demo off. I can’t imagine how terrible it must have been, because I had never been in a recording studio before…I got a call to meet with a big fancy A&R guy who had flown down from New York. The meeting was the same day as my high school homecoming football game, and I was more concerned about making sure this meeting was done in time so I could hang out with my friends! It was so beyond my comprehension that this could actually lead to a career. I was 14! But, I ended up signing a record deal,” Mandy told Into the Gloss.
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10. Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman was just 10 years old when she was scouted by a modeling recruiter while eating pizza with her mother in a restaurant. She already had an interest in the performing arts so when she was approached, she was initially on board. Although she considered modeling, Natalie says she asked to be connected with their acting agents because she didn’t want to constantly be judged on her appearance. Thankfully, they obliged.
“I was just at a pizza place, after dance class, with my mom,” Natalie told THR of where she was discovered. “I was excited. As a 10-year-old girl, it was super-flattering.”
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