Surprising Ways Your Favorite Stars Got Their Start in Showbusiness

how stars got discovered

It sounds like a Hollywood fairy tale. Maybe even a scam. But For these famous faces, getting “discovered” by a talent scout helped them become megastars.

mandy moore
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Charlie Hunnam

When he was 17, Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) was shoe shopping drunk on Christmas Eve–like you do–and ran into a production manager for a TV show. He blew a cheeky kiss at her, and she told him he ought to be an actor.

Natalie Portman

At 10 years old, Natalie Portman (real name: Natalie Hershlag) was spotted by a Revlon representative at a pizza parlor. The agent suggested that Natalie should look into modeling, but the brainy beauty wanted to be an actress instead.

She asked to talk to an acting agent instead, which turned out to be the right move for the Oscar winner!

Mandy Moore

When Mandy More was a teenager, she dreamed of being a pop star. She booked time at a studio to record a demo, but that wasn’t what helped her get a break. Instead, a passing FedEx delivery guy overheard her sing.

He just happened to have a connection to a record producer, and the rest is history.

Rosario Dawson

In 1994, Rosario Dawson was hanging out on the stoop of her family’s New York City home, minding her own business. Larry Clark and Harmony Korine–the duo behind the cult classic film Kids–just happened to be walking by at the time and new she was something special.

Charlize Theron

This story sounds fake, but Charlize Theron insists that it really happened. She was just 18 years old at the time and recently arrived in Los Angeles. Charlize got into a shouting match with a bank teller over her paycheck–as she told Oprah later, that check was the difference between being able to pay rent and being out on the street.

A talent agent just happened to be standing in line behind Charlize. Recognizing that she was a star waiting to be discovered, he made sure she left the bank with his business card.

Chris Pratt

The Jurassic Park star wasn’t in a great place before he was discovered. Chris Pratt was living in a van (sadly, not down by the river) and waiting tables at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Rae Dawn Chong knew that he was something special when she saw him at the Maui restaurant and immediately cast him in her upcoming movie.

The film was a flop, but Chris managed to land his breakout role on Everwood shortly afterward.

Jason Statham

Is this life imitating art, or the other way around? Jason Statham was making a living by selling jewelry on the streets of London when he caught the eye of a talent agent. At the time, Statham was also a competitive high diver (with, I might add, a full head of hair).

The agent let his friend Guy Ritchie know that Statham was just what the director needed for his debut film. Ritchie cast Statham in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels… as a London street vendor selling counterfeit jewelry.