From working as a morgue beautician to dressing up in a banana suit, we reveal some of the surprising jobs of the rich and famous – and how it helped influence their later careers.
Harrison Ford: Carpenter
Like many actors, Harrison Ford turned his hand to all kinds of jobs while waiting for his big break in Hollywood, including working as a waiter and cabinet maker. It was while jobbing as a carpenter that Ford met George Lucas – who offered him a tiny part in American Graffiti.
Ford met the director again when he was asked to build an elaborate raised panel in his studio office, which, as luck would have it, was during the time he was casting for Star Wars.
The story goes that Lucas asked Ford to help with the video tests for the auditions. Ford agreed to do him the favor of reading the male parts for the actresses testing for the role of Princess Leia.
His performance was so impressive it landed him the lead role.
Proving that no experience is ever wasted, the actor later told Parade.com that working as a carpenter had helped shape his attitude to acting. ‘I don’t look at things from an art perspective – I look at them from a craft perspective,’ he said.
Lady Gaga: Waitress
Many of the world’s biggest stars – Renee Zellweger, Jennifer Aniston and Mariah Carey included – have turned to waitressing to pay the rent – and Lady Gaga is no different.
Stefani Germanotta as she was known then, may have come from a wealthy Italian family, but says she preferred to pay her own way. ‘I moved out of home, wouldn’t take any help from my parents and supported myself with waitressing jobs and stripping,’ she once said in an interview.
She recalled her waitressing days in New York City, revealing that she always wore heels to work. As well as learning to walk in her signature skyscraper heels, the experience of entertaining customers proved good practice for her stage career.
‘I told everybody stories, and for customers on dates, I kept it romantic. It’s kind of like performing. I was really good at it… I always got big tips,’ she said.
Whoopi Goldberg: Morgue beautician
Waitressing may be par for the course for Hollywood wannabes – but Whoopi Goldberg had a far more unusual career history.
As well as working as a bricklayer and phone-sex operator, Caryn Elaine Johnson (as she was named then), made ends meet as a morgue beautician.
As a trained beautician, it was her job to apply makeup to the deceased to present them in the best possible condition. Speaking to Stella, Whoopi recalls her nervousness about the work – and her somewhat hair-raising initiation to the job.
‘I heard a sort of creaking. I turned round and one of the drawers was slowly opening.
Then someone sat up and waved at me…someone who should have been dead.
‘[My boss] jumped out and said: “That’s the worst thing that could ever happen to you here, and it won’t. So there’s nothing to be scared of.” I was fine after that.’
We can imagine that stage fright was nothing after that experience!
Channing Tatum: Stripper
Many celebrities claim that their pre-fame jobs helped prepare them for their current career – but Channing Tatum is one star who would rather distance himself from the past.
The actor, who played an exotic dancer in movie Magic Mike, worked as a stripper for a year at the age of 18 – before being discovered by a casting agent.
In a case of art imitating life, Tatum has recently been forced to deny allegations that he stole dance moves from his former stripper co-workers in Florida and used them in the movie.
He said: ‘There’s not one character that I took from my real life; this is just a world that I went into, and I had a perspective on. And we created everything from a fictional place.’
Megan Fox: Character promoter
Transformers star Megan Fox may regularly top the ‘most sexy‘ magazine poll lists – but life wasn’t always so glamorous.
The actress has revealed that she used to work as a character promoter – and was paid to walk the streets in a banana costume.
She said: ‘I worked at a Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Florida when I was 15. I would have to go out in the street wearing a gigantic banana costume and dance to try to get customers to come in. There was no anonymity; the costume had a big hole cut out so that everyone would see your face.’
Still, she’s in good company. Brad Pitt once wore a yellow chicken suit to promote El Pollo Loco, a chain of Mexican restaurants, to pay for his acting classes.