Here are the strange jobs 10 stars worked before they hit it big.

1. Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt, 2012
Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock
Brad Pitt, 2012

The job: Dancing chicken

Brad Pitt was studying journalism at the University of Missouri when he dropped out to pursue acting.

Until he got his big break as a cowboy hitchhiker in Thelma & Louise, he had to hustle to pay his bills.

Among his many pre-fame jobs was his first paid “acting gig”: dressing up in a chicken suit and dancing outside an El Pollo Loco restaurant to attract customers.

2. Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 2012
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Ellen DeGeneres on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 2012

The job: Oyster shucker

Ellen DeGeneres didn’t become a successful comedian, actress, awards show host and daytime talk show maven overnight.

One of the most interesting jobs she worked during her up-and-coming years was shucking oysters in her home state of Louisiana.

As she's quoted saying in the book Ellen Degeneres: A Biography: "When you live in New Orleans, you're bound to be an oyster shucker.”

3. Channing Tatum

Channing Tatum, 2016
Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock
Channing Tatum, 2016

The job: Stripper

Fans of the Magic Mike movies know they're based on Channing Tatum's early days as a male stripper.

After he dropped out of college at 19, the future Hollywood hunk decided to cash in on his (ahem) assets while trying to break into the acting world.

The stripper moves served him well: His breakthrough role was in the 2006 dance film Step Up.

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4. Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift, 2018
Jamie Lamor Thompson / Shutterstock
Taylor Swift, 2018

The job: Christmas tree exterminator

Taylor Swift grew up on a Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania and had to pitch in.

But young Taylor wasn't strong enough to help with lifting and moving the trees, so her father gave her another, ickier task: removing any praying mantis pods hidden in the branches.

Swift left the farm for Nashville at the age of 14 to start pursuing her career as a singer — and she put her exterminator days far behind her.

5. Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston, 2010
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Jennifer Aniston, 2010

The job: Telemarketer

Before she struck gold with her role as Rachel Green on TV's Friends, Jennifer Aniston worked in off-Broadway productions and paid her way with all sorts of odd part-time jobs.

Her least successful gig was in telemarketing. "I was awful, selling timeshares in the Poconos and upsetting people terribly," Aniston has said. "I just apologized profusely and hung up the phone."

As Rachel might say, Noooo!

6. Beyoncé

Beyonce, 2007
Fabio Diena / Shutterstock
Beyonce, 2007

The job: Hair sweeper

Young Beyoncé was dancing and singing her heart out at every opportunity, but getting famous took a while.

Before she hit the big time, she helped out in her mother’s hair salon, earning cash by sweeping up freshly cut hair.

At the same time, she was auditioning with girl group after girl group, performing all over Houston. Her group Girls Tyme was finally signed in 1996, officially changed its name to Destiny's Child in 1997, and Queen Bey was on her way.

7. Megan Fox

Megan Fox in
Fabio Diena / Shutterstock
Megan Fox in "Friends with Kids," 2011

The job: Banana mascot for a smoothie shop

Silver screen beauty Megan Fox started modeling at the age of 13 and got her first film role at 15. But though she came up quickly, she did have one weird just-starting-out job.

Fox admitted on a talk show that while she was a teenager in Florida, she worked at a smoothie shop — but not as a cashier or smoothie maker.

Instead, she had to stand outside, clad head to toe in a banana costume.

8. Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus, 2013
Debby Wong / Shutterstock
Miley Cyrus, 2013

The job: Underwear retriever

Before Miley Cyrus became a star in her own right, she started out making cash at her dad Billy Ray Cyrus' concerts.

She has said she used to get paid $10 after the shows to go around and pick up all the bras and underwear that had been thrown at her dad by adoring women in the audience.

Whenever she came across the largest undergarments, she’d tease her dad that she'd found his biggest fan.

9. Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp, 2011
PAN Photo Agency / Shutterstock
Johnny Depp, 2011

The job: Pen salesman

Long before he charmed moviegoers with his offbeat characters, Johnny Depp honed his acting skills selling pens over the phone.

“You had to call these strangers and say, ‘Hi, how ya doing?’ You made up a name, like, ‘Hey, it’s Edward Quartermaine from California. You’re eligible to receive this grandfather clock or a trip to Tahiti,’” he explained, to Interview magazine.

Maybe he got in some good practice at make-believe, but Depp was more than happy to move on from the job. "It was just awful," he said.

10. Madonna

Madonna, 2008
Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock
Madonna, 2008

The job: Dunkin Donuts

Back when she was struggling to break in to the biz, the Queen of Pop had a normal day job like the rest of us.

To cover her rent, the future living legend worked at the Dunkin Donuts in the middle of New York's Times Square.

Unfortunately, it didn't end well for Madge: "I was sacked for squirting the donut jelly all over the customers," she has said.

About the Author

Richard Glunt

Richard Glunt

Freelance Contributor

Richard is a personal finance enthusiast and freelance contributor to MoneyWise. He lives in Milwaukee with his wife Eugene and two children Cole and Abby.

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