The vast majority of actors that you’re familiar with worked their tails off to land their big breakthrough roles and achieve fame and fortune. There is good reason why Southern California is saturated with failed actors who wound up working in dead-end service industry jobs after devoting much of their early lives to trying to make it in such a cut-throat, dog-eat-dog industry. Frankly, the chances of you actually making it in Tinsel Town, regardless of how much time, money, and energy you devote to your craft, are slimmer than the chances of winning the lottery.
It feels like everyone and their cousin in Hollywood has either written a screenplay or has made the endless rounds going to every open audition they possibly could in the hopes of someday seeing their name in lights. The dream of stardom certainly is enticing, but simply put, it’s not a realistic one.
That’s why it’s nothing short of shocking when you discover that some celebs who are now household names ended up finding immense success with little to no experience or training. After all, there are literally thousands of people out there that have spent their entire adolescent and early adult lives chasing the ever-elusive dragon that is a film contract.
It’s crazy how sometimes life can shape your future in ways that you never could have imagined. Occasionally, you’ll be thrown a curve ball of sheer luck that you’d be nuts to ignore. When you’re handed an opportunity like this, you should always seize it as soon as possible, because if you hesitate, it very well could evaporate as soon as it appeared.
In this video, we’ll be discussing several well-known Hollywood stars who, as unfair as it might seem for those that have essentially sold their souls to the entertainment industry only to be tossed aside like dirty laundry, wound up appearing in major motion pictures without any prior acting experience. Some of these lucky ducks just happened to be in the right place at the right time, while others landed their breakout roles solely because of their looks.
Facts Verse Presents: Famous Actors Who Landed Big Roles with No Experience at All
Actor Channing Tatum made his first appearance in front of a camera, at least on a professional level, as a fashion model, but he wound up getting spotted by a talent agent when he was simply walking down the streets of Miami, Florida, minding his own business. At first he starred in a slew of music videos before eventually landing a couple of minor television commercial parts. In 2004, however, his acting career really got rolling when he appeared in a relatively minor role on CSI: Miami. The rest of his Hollywood success story, as they say, is history.
This actress and Kentucky native landed her big accidental break when she was vacationing in New York City when she was only 12 years old. While hanging out with her family in Union Square, a talent agent spotted her, and in a matter of weeks, she was a bona fide teenaged model. Lawrence went on to make her screen debut in 2006, appearing in an episode of Monk. The Hunger Games actress was validated with her first Oscar nomination four years later for her performance in Winter’s Bone. Lawrence took home an Oscar in 2012 for her performance in the dramedy Silver Linings Playbook. Since then, she’s continued to rack up Oscar nods for her roles in films like Joy and American Hustle.
The original blonde bombshell, born Norma Jean Mortenson, spent most of her childhood bouncing around foster homes and poorly funded orphanages. Despite being known for her platinum blonde hairdo, she was actually a natural brunette. While working at a plant, a photographer just so happened to see her and snap a photo of her. A few days later, he published the pic in a magazine.
Marilyn, seeing that she was being handed a real opportunity, decided to dye her blonde and begin working as a model. After finding success in that field, Monroe took acting classes with the hope of one day becoming a sensation like her idol Lana Turner. In 1947, she was cast in his first movie, Dangerous Years.
Marilyn went on to appear in several highly-profitable and critically acclaimed Hollywood films, such as Gentleman Prefer Blondes, Seven Year Itch, and Some Like It Hot, before dying of an apparent overdose at the age of 36 in 1962.
This breathtakingly beautiful South African actress arrived in Hollywood at 18. At that time, she was living in a dingy, rundown hotel room while barely scraping by with the wages she was earning modeling in the Big Apple.
Theron was discovered by a talent agent after squabbling a bit with a bank teller who wouldn’t let her cash her last paycheck. Charlize would later reflect on that memory by telling Oprah that she was merely trying to survive. If she wasn’t able to cash that check, she wouldn’t have had a roof over her head that night. The Oscar Award-winning actress recalls desperately pleading with the teller, begging him to understand her plight, when suddenly a gentleman in a suit came over and attempted to lend her a hand.
With his help, she was able to open up a new account – only after filling out a pile of paperwork thicker than a Quarter Pounder – and cash the check. Afterward, the man that helped her out revealed that he worked for a talent agency and thought that she could be Hollywood’s next blonde bombshell. Several months later, Theron landed her breakthrough role in the horror film Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest. Less than a year after that, she was given a role in Tom Hank’s directorial debut, That Thing You Do!
One very average day, Johnny Depp had nothing better to do, so he decided to go to an open audition for a role in Nightmare of Elm Street with his buddy Jackie Earle Haley. Depp wasn’t really all that interested in the part himself, but he did want to support his longtime friend. While poor Jackie-boy didn’t get the part he pined for, as fate would have it, director Wes Craven ended up spotting Deep on the set and thought that he had potential. After asking him to audition, Depp landed the role of Glen, who as any of you who have seen the flick before knows, was involved in one of the more unnerving and iconic kill scenes in horror film history.
Depp would go on to become one of the highest-paid and most celebrated actors in Hollywood. Recently, however, he’s also found himself wrapped up in a heaping pile of controversy. But such is life.
Texas-native Matthew McConaughey had very little desire to follow in his dad’s footprints by diving into the oil business. In time, however, he did discover that he had the desire to become an actor. At first, he only was able to score a few forgettable roles in television commercials and low-budget student films, but while staying at an Austin-area hotel, Matthew had a chance encounter with a producer and casting director who ended up pulling some strings and introducing him to Richard Linklater. This meeting, as unlikely as it might have been, got the ball rolling to eventually land him his iconic role in Linklater’s cult classic Dazed and Confused.
While it’s hard to imagine anyone other than the Academy Award-winning star in Dazed’s lead role, at the time Linklater thought that McConaughey was too attractive for the role – especially since the film’s script called for him to be a bit of an older sleaze ball who only seemed to be interested in partying it up with much younger teen girls.
Brushing aside his reservations, Linklater decided to give Matthew a chance anyway. He instructed him to grow his hair out a bit and don a mustache, and Botta-bing-Botta-boom, a star was born. To think, the world almost missed out on McConaughey’s signature ‘all right, all right, all right’ line.
Naty P. was born in Jerusalem, but when she was nine years old she was out with her family getting pizza in Long Island when a rep from Revlon cosmetics saw her and thought she had the right look to get into modeling.
The V For Vendetta actress quickly grew jaded from working in the modeling industry but was able to leverage her success into finding roles as an actress. Not long after appearing in a few bit parts in television shows, she made her feature film debut in The Professional, portraying a young girl who learns how to be an assassin.
These days, Portman has more than 30 acting credits under her belt, including her performance in the Academy Award-winning Darren Aronofksy film Black Swan.
Canadian actress Evangeline Lilly was just strolling around the city streets in British Columbia when she was spotted by a talent agent for Ford Modeling Agency. At the time, she reportedly had no interest in modeling or pursuing an acting career, but she was strapped for cash and needed to pay for her tuition.
She ended up landing a few minor roles in TV ads and non-speaking roles in shows like Smallville, but she landed her big break after auditioning for the role of Kate Austen on ABC’s supernatural drama Lost.
That series, despite it’s polarizing ending, ended up becoming one of the network’s most significant hits, airing for six seasons from 2004 to 2010. For her role in the series, Lilly wound up taking home a Screen Actors Guild Award and receiving a Golden Globe nod. After portraying Kate for six years, Evangeline went on to appear in films like Real Steel, The Hurt Locker, Ant-Man, and The Hobbit.
The Duke was initially a football player over at USC with dreams of going pro, but thanks to a collarbone injury, he ended up losing his scholarship. Not knowing how he was going to pay for the rest of his education, Wayne decided to think outside of the box and carpe-diem his way into success.
His old football coach often gave western star Tom Mix a couple of tickets to USC Games. As a ‘thank you’ for the free tickets, Mix’s pal, director John Ford, decided to give Wayne a job working in the props department over at Fox Studios.
Wayne continued to diligently work at Fox soaking up every bit of intel that he could pertaining to show business. Eventually, he graduated to working as an extra, and In time his hard work and perseverance – not to mention his providential relationship with Ford – paid off when he scored his big break as one of the stars of the film Stagecoach.
So, what do you think? Do you think that it’s unfair when actors wind up finding success based primarily on dumb luck? Or do you think that Hollywood should reward talent on merit rather than looks and happenstance? Let us know in the comments, and as always, thanks for your continued support of this channel. We really couldn’t do it without you!