Contrary to popular belief, the majority of actors and actresses who make it big in Hollywood weren’t born into fame. Sure, there are the rare actors’ children who dive into the family business continue to do well, but most of the people whose names you know worked their butts off on small stages or small screens before getting that big break.

So, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that – like all people who toil at a profession that doesn’t pay squat while honing their craft and climbing the ladder (says the writer) – most actors needed jobs that weren’t acting in order to pay the bills. It might surprise you, however, to hear that they weren’t all waiting tables and/or slinging coffee. Read on!

#10. Pierce Brosnan

One of a couple of circus performers on our list, Pierce Brosnan performed as a fire-eater when he was a teen.

…there was a workshop and one night I looked in and some guy was teaching people to fire-eat. There was a big group of people in there but I noticed that there were women and they had their tops off. So I thought I’d join in. So I went to the workshop and I learnt how to fire-eat.

Photo Credit: MGM

This might be the best “how I got the job” story ever.

#9. Barack Obama

The future POTUS started his working career scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins. There are definitely worse jobs, because I’m sure you get to taste new flavors. That’s what I call a perk.

Then again, POTUS claims working there kind of resulted in him losing his taste for the stuff, so maybe not.

Photo Credit: Twitter, @TheDemocrats

#8. Christopher Lee

Sir Christopher Lee spent WWII in the British Intelligence Service, and finished up the war years by hunting Nazis for prosecution. That’s all we know, because he was always cagey about his service, which makes sense since he served for the precursors of the legendary SAS.

I’ve been entrusted with many secrets during World War II… I was in the intelligence service, special ops, and I’m not going to tell much more. …if I’m asked to say nothing, I say nothing. Never.

Photo Credit: Twitter, @_histomania

Which, you know, only makes me want to know more.

#7. George Clooney

He had several careers before finally being able to call acting his full-time job. They included shoe salesman, door-to-door salesman, grocery store clerk, construction worker, and tobacco farmer.

I bet he was pretty good at selling stuff to women. Just saying.

#6. Harrison Ford

Han Solo was a carpenter until he was 35 years old, which was when he got his big break as far as acting. He was installing cabinets in George Lucas’s house when the director gave Ford a part in American Graffiti.

#5. David Bowie

Bowie worked as a delivery boy for a butcher. I feel as if this had to be a smelly job? Either way, he spent that cash on his first saxophone, so I think most people would agree that it was worth it.

Photo Credit: Twitter, @VindorMusic

#4. Christopher Walken

When he was 16, he worked in the circus “taming” a lion named Sheba. Truly. He talked about it with Indiewire:

…he would do this big act with a dozen big cats. And then he would send them all out at the end and just leave this one old girl, and I would come in with my whip and I’d go like that and she’d sit up. But she was really more like a dog. It wasn’t really lion taming. She was very sweet.

Sweet or not, that’s pretty crazy, right?

#3. Chris Pratt

To the benefit of women’s imaginations everywhere, Chris Pratt worked as a stripper to pay the bills while living in Hawaii.

He claims that he wasn’t very successful, but I don’t know. Maybe he was already working on his Parks & Rec bod?

#2. Steve Buscemi

Steve Buscemi started out as a 22-year-old firefighter in New York City. He was with Engine Co. 55 in Little Italy starting in 1980. He talked about it with a Salon interviewer:

…I had gone to school for acting and had done some stand-up comedy before I took the job. But after I had been on the job for about a year, I started going back to acting classes. I was constantly doing theater, and the first couple of films I did, I was still with the fire department.

Photo Credit: Twitter, @molbowes

Not only that, but after 9/11 he showed up at his old firehouse and assisted with the rescue efforts, working 12 hour shifts for days on end. He refused all interviews and photo ops during that time, and later said that he was glad to have been busy so that he had time to fully process the enormity of what had just happened.

#1. Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt used to dress up as a giant chicken to entice people to eat at Los Angeles’s Pollo Loco. I don’t really know what else to say about that. I guess if Brad Pitt can go from giant waving chicken to famous actor and husband-to-the-stars, don’t give up on your dreams.

h/t: Bored Panda

Check out these other fun lists from Did You Know!

13 Surprising Real Names of Celebrities

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