12 people who went from being homeless to ruling Hollywood
When we think about celebrities, we often think about their cars or fancy beachhouses, or the A-list parties they go to. From the outside looking in, it feels as though they have it all. A gorgeous partner, movies lined up for years and a future that seems all but set. Sure, some of these stars have had it handed to them because they were born into 'movie royalty', but many have actually worked their way up the ladder, starting from scratch and eventually making it into the big leagues.
Here are 12 celebrities who were at one point homeless, but fought against all the odds to become a Hollywood star:
#12 Christian Olivo
Olivo purposely decided to stay homeless, instead spending his money on a gym membership and acting classes. Instead of chasing girls, he focused on himself, spending time perfecting his acting and honing his athletic prowess.
The actor has now landed roles in FX's Versace: American Crime Story and HBO's Insecure. He's not neglected his academics either, graduating summa cum laude (the highest form of distinction) after getting a perfect math score on his Scholastic Aptitude Test.
#11 John Woo
A major influence on the action genre, Woo is now synonymous with high-tempo action sequences, Mexican standoffs and the use of slow motion. Known for films such as Hard Target, Broken Arrow, and Mission: Impossible 2, Woo had a difficult upbringing. Born into a poor family, he sometimes didn't even have food to eat as his father had tuberculosis and couldn't work. He then became homeless after their home was burned down in the big Shek Kip Mei fire of 1953. His perseverance was his biggest asset and now, he's one of Hollywood's most respected directors.
#10 W.C. Fields
Fields left his home in 1891 after a spat with his father and for a while, quite literally lived in a hole. He then moved into a room above a wheelwright's shop that was furnished with discarded chairs and stools and lived off food that his friends took from their homes. He also stole bakery items from stores and milk from residents' porches to sustain himself.
Starting off his entertainment career as a juggler, he got his first big break when he joined the Ziegfeld Follies. Soon after, his Hollywood career took off, working in films such as The Bank Dick and My Little Chickadee; work that he is still highly regarded for.
#9 Hilary Swank
When Hilary's parents separated, she left with her mom for Los Angeles and lived in a car while she tried to get her acting career off the ground. They used air mattresses to sleep on at night and sometimes managed to crash at a friend's place. But the homelessness was only temporary.
She debuted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the rest, as they say, is history. She soon landed roles in films such as Million Dollar Baby and Boys Don't Cry, the latter of which earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress and also the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama.
#8 Drew Carey
Drew Carey is best known for his cheerful demeanor and his incredible chemistry with the cast of Whose Line Is It Anyway, but the Ohio-born comedian had a rough time during his teens. He was supposedly suicidal at 18 when he took a bus from Ohio to visit his brother who lived in California. On the way, he was homeless for a few weeks in Las Vegas, barely having any money to even buy food. One story goes that he had to sell his blood plasma for $40 so he would afford to buy some mac and cheese. Short stints as a bank teller and a waiter followed before his Hollywood career finally took off with The Drew Carey Show.
#7 Charlie Chaplin
When Charlie was just 10, his father, actor Charles Sr. died and his mother, singer and comedienne Hannah, was institutionalized for mental illness. He and his brother were forced to fend for themselves. His story was described as the "most dramatic of all rags-to-riches stories ever told" and it's not difficult to see why. Starting out as a tap dancer, Charlie then embarked on a career in Vaudeville as a comedian before eventually moving to the United States and making it in the big leagues with his hilarious comedic sketches and movies such as The Gold Rush, City Lights, and Modern Times.
#6 Halle Berry
At the age of 21, Halle Berry was living on her own in New York and was down to her last penny. Her mother refused to lend her any money and she ended up having to live in a homeless shelter. Her situation improved when she was cast in the role of Emily Franklin in the ABC Television series Living Dolls and she eventually made her film debut in Jungle Fever in 1991.
Her breakthrough film role was in the romantic comedy Boomerang (1992) and her role in the romantic drama Monster's Ball (2001) won her the Academy Award for Best Actress. Though she admits to resenting her mother and not talking to her for 18 months after she refused to give her money, she has since admitted that the incident taught her to be self-sufficient.
#5 Jennifer Lopez
Lopez always aspired to be a dancer whereas her mom wanted her to go to college because dancing was a "really stupid" idea and that "no Latinos did that". These differences in opinion meant that she moved out when she was just 18 and slept on the sofas at dance studios. She eventually landed a job dancing in Europe and when she moved back to the US, she got booked on In Living Color and became a Fly Girl, her big breakthrough.
With a cumulative film gross of over $2.89 billion and global record sales exceeding 80 million, she is now regarded as the most influential Hispanic performer in the United States.
#4 Jim Carrey
When Carrey was in the eighth grade, his father lost his job as an accountant and had to take up a role as a security guard at a wheel factory in Ontario. Carrey and his brother used to clean the floors of the factory to help the family make ends meet, but when his father lost this job as well, the family became homeless. They had to live in their Volkswagen camper van, sleeping in a different parking lot each night.
In 1977, aged 15, he began touring various Ontario comedy clubs, bombing in every one. He was eventually discovered by Rodney Dangerfield who signed Carrey on as his opening act. Bigger roles soon followed and his big breakthrough came with The Mask, which catapulted him to stardom and confirmed his place in the pantheon of comedians. Those hard days are definitely behind the actor now, who is now a household name across the world.
#3 Sylvester Stallone
One of the more well-known homeless stories, Stallone was so broke at one point that he had to sell his dog to a stranger at a pub so he had enough money to eat. He spent his days sleeping in bus stops and subway stations across New York. After watching a Muhammad Ali fight, he got inspired to write the script for Rocky, but refused to sell it to any studio unless they let him star as the lead. He eventually managed to sell it for $35,000 and the first thing he did with the money was track down the man he sold his dog to and buy it back.
Rocky made $225 million at the box office and made Stallone one of Hollywood's biggest stars, pretty much kick-starting his rivalry with Schwarzenegger that defined the 80s.
#2 Daniel Craig
Now the face of the James Bond franchise, Daniel Craig waited tables and slept on park benches during the early days of his acting career. His break came when he accepted a role in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and then gained national attention after he played a drug pusher in the 1996 BBC miniseries Our Friends in the North.
Though people were skeptical of his casting as James Bond initially, his debut was highly acclaimed and earned him a BAFTA award nomination, with Casino Royale becoming the highest-grossing film in the series. Craig's third Bond film, Skyfall, is currently the highest-grossing film in the series, was the highest-grossing film in the UK until 2015.
#1 Chris Pratt
Pratt dropped out of college after just a single semester in college, accepting his friend's offer for a one-way ticket to Maui. There, he was homeless, either spending his nights in a van or in the beach. While waiting tables at Maui’s Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Pratt met Rae Dawn Chong who offered him a part in Cursed Part 3, a movie she was directing.
He then managed to land a role in Parks and Recreation, for which he received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 2013. Lead roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and then Jurassic Park pretty much confirmed his status as one of the 'big boys'.
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