Nearly all of us have dreamt of becoming an actor, given the fame, money, and charmed lives big celebrities are having. Yet, acting is a challenging career to take. With the onerous trials and tall obstacles along the way, only a few get the chance to reach stardom. Some attend rigorous theatrical academies and drama classes, join countless auditions, play numerous minor roles, spend lots of hard work and time before finally getting the shot and achieving their dreams in the industry.
Yet, there are exceptions. Some actors didn’t even dream of becoming stars, world-famous, and wealthy. They stumbled into the film industry by accident. They were lucky to be at the right place at the right time. If you’re curious who they are, read on below to discover the famous accidental movie stars – some of these names are bound to surprise you.
1. Natalie Portman
Known for her role as Padmé Amidala in the iconic Star Wars movie franchise, Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman was spotted by an agent at a pizza parlor at the young age of 10. While she pursued modeling, she found it tedious and switched to acting. She performed in the musical “Ruthless!” in 1992, then auditioned and got the role in the action-drama flick “Léon: The Professional” (1994) directed by Luc Besson. Portman since then went on to make an extensive movie career and received many accolades for her performances, including an Academy Award and two Golden Globe awards.
2. Channing Tatum
Channing Tatum had no plans of becoming an actor, but his modeling career paved his entry into the film industry. After being discovered by a talent scout while walking the streets of Miami, Florida, he began appearing in print advertisements of many famous brands. He started his acting career with a minor role in the “Pro Per” episode of “CSI: Miami” in 2004. The following year, he ventured into the film industry after appearing in the movies like “Supercross,” “Havoc,” and “Coach Carter.” In 2006, he got his breakthrough in the romantic dance drama flick “Step Up,” and became more famous for “Magic Mike” in 2012.
3. Estella Warren
Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Estella Warren was a synchronized swimmer of the Canadian National Team. She won three national titles and got second place in the World Aquatic Championship. Yet, her career wasn’t meant to be in the water. A talent scout from a modeling agency noticed her at a high school fashion show and found success in the commercial modeling industry. Later on, she secured stints in TV and film, becoming famous for her roles in “Planet of the Apes” (2001), “Driven” (2001), and “Kangaroo Jack” (2003).
4. Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood held different low-paying jobs before eventually discovering acting while working as a lifeguard in a U.S. military base. His first break came after securing the starring role in Columbia Broadcasting System’s (CBS) TV series “Rawhide,” alongside Eric Fleming. Afterward, he got his groove and played many iconic roles, such as Sergio Leone and Dirty Harry, which placed him as the cultural insignia of masculinity in the film industry. Eastwood also ventured into directing and producing films, winning Academy awards for his features “Unforgiven” (1992) and “Million Dollar Baby” (1994).
5. Johnny Depp
Known for his roles as Willy Wonka, Edward Scissorhands, and Captain Jack, Johnny Deep had no intention to pursue a career in acting but rather had plans of becoming a musician. He moved to Los Angeles, where his wife introduced him to Nicolas Cage, who said Depp should venture into acting. While Deep considered the idea, it was merely for earning money to advance his music career further.
Eventually, Depp was cast into a film, after accompanying a friend in an audition for Wes Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” The director’s teenage daughter found Deep “dreamy” and asked his father to include Deep in the film. The rest is history, as Deep emerged as one of the most eclectic actors in modern American cinema.
6. Jason Statham
In his early years, Jason Statham was a competitive diver, being part of the British National Diving Team and representing their country in the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand. While training at the Crystal Palace National Sports Center, he was spotted by a sports modeling agency, signaling the start of his life in the media. While working for a clothing company, Statham was introduced to young director Guy Ritchie”. Learning that Statham has a history of being a con artist, Ritchie cast Statham in the movie “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998). Today, Statham is renowned for his antihero roles in the “Transporter” trilogy, “Expendables” series, and the “Fast & Furious franchise.
7. Steven Seagal
Steven Seagal started training in martial arts at the young of seven. Between 1971 to 1973, he moved to Japan for advanced training in Aikido and became a martial arts instructor. Seagal went back to Los Angeles, California, in 1974, where Hollywood broker Michael Ovitz took notice of him. In 1987, he made his film debut in Andrew Davis’ “Above the Law” and became well-renowned for his roles in other action films like “Under Siege,” “Exit Wounds,” “Marked For Death,” and “Hard To Kill.”
8. Will Smith
Will Smith started his career as the rapper/MC “Fresh Prince” alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff. Coming from their platinum-certified recordings and music videos, his conspicuous charisma, persona, and good looks soon caught the attention of TV producers. In 1990, NBC signed him into a contract for the sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which ran six seasons. With its success, Will Smith expanded into acting and starred in many blockbuster hits like “Independence Day,” “Men In Black,” “Hancock,” “The Pursuit of Happiness,” and “I Am Legend.”
9. Jennifer Lawrence
Having become the highest-paid actress in the world in 2015 and 2016 and remaining as one of the most influential actresses in Hollywood, it’s pretty surprising that Jennifer Lawrence had no plans of becoming a movie actress. She was only discovered by a talent scout while having a trip to New York with her mother. Her mother, unaware that strangers promising modeling careers on the streets are usually a fraud, gave her daughter’s info. Luckily, that man proved to be a legit agent. Lawrence became a model but soon realized it wasn’t for her. She started attending auditions and landed a role in the sitcom “The Bill Engvall Show.” Lawrence soon starred in many successful movies, more notably “The Hunger Games” franchise and the “X-Men” movie series.
10. John Wayne
A college football star from the University of Southern California, John Wayne yearned to enter the professional ranks. Yet, his dream came to an abrupt end after sustaining an injury. To provide for himself, he resorted to accepting random jobs, such as being a grunt worker at the Fox Film Corporation, where his task was to move and handle props, equipment, and furniture. His natural athletic build made him a perfect stand-in actor for legendary director John Ford. Soon, Wayne became an extra then landed minor to major roles in the popular movies directed by John Ford. From there, Wayne carved his acting career and became the famous quintessential cowboy icon of Hollywood.
There’s no doubt that hard work, patience, sacrifice, and talent are all needed to succeed in the movie industry. Yet, there are also instances that luck does its magic. Whichever way an actor becomes famous, let’s all appreciate all the love and time they devote to their craft, bringing us all the performances and movies we all enjoy today.