actors 15 Famous Actors Who Landed Roles with No Experience at All

Ann Casano
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Imagine being so beautiful that you can simply be walking down the street and a talent agent feels the need to stop you and persuade you to join a modeling agency or try out for a part in a feature film. Don’t think that sort of thing really happens? Well, it actually happens all the time, if a person happens to look like Charlize Theron or Natalie Portman. Here are some famous actors with no experience who got their big break by being in the right place at the right time.

Mel Gibson was simply keeping his friend company while he auditioned for a role in the film Mad Max. Director George Miller spotted Gibson in the background and liked his look. Not only did the Aussie get a role in Mad Max after having no prior film acting experience whatsoever, he got the lead part.

Some of the people on this list are now celebrities who didn't want to be actors in the first place. Rosario Dawson didn't even have to leave her front porch to get noticed. Charlize Theron was just trying to get her last paycheck cashed at the bank. Pamela Anderson received a ton of love when she appeared on a stadium big screen at a Canadian football game.

These charmed stories of how actors caught breaks are fairy tale in nature and almost too impossible to believe. But they’re all true!

Jennifer Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 15 Famous Actors Who Landed Roles with No Experience at All
Photo: Roadside Attractions
It's hard to believe Jennifer Lawrence is so young, considering she's already won an Oscar, pretty much gets nominated for one every year, and is the protagonist in one of the biggest movie franchises in Hollywood history.

Lawrence got her big accidental break while the Kentucky native was vacationing in The Big Apple, when she was just 12 years old. A talent agent spotted her in Union Square and in no time Lawrence was a bonafide teen model. The Hunger Games actress made her debut on the TV series Monk in 2006 and received her first Oscar nod with Winter's Bone in 2010.

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Channing Tatum is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 15 Famous Actors Who Landed Roles with No Experience at All
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Imagine if Channing Tatum had actually accepted that football scholarship and attended West Virginia. Then he probably never would have moved to Miami and been discovered by a talent agent while walking down the street. Tatum did some modeling work for Gap and Nautica, before turning his attention to acting. One of his first acting gigs came as a dancer in Ricky Martin’s "She Bangs" music video. He then hit the small screen with a role on an episode of CSI: Miami. The Alabama native made his feature film debut in 2005's Coach Carter. Tatum already has over 40 acting credits, including blockbusters like Magic Mike and independent critical darlings like Foxcatcher.

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Charlize Theron is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 15 Famous Actors Who Landed Roles with No Experience at All
Photo: Miramax Films
The South African beauty moved to Hollywood when she was 18. Theron was living in a shady hotel room with dwindling wages she earned modeling in New York City. She was discovered in a bank after having a spat with the teller because he wouldn't cash her last paycheck. The Oscar winner told Oprah during an interview for O Magazine, “I’m like, ‘It’s survival, people.’ If I didn’t cash that check, I wouldn’t have had a place to sleep that night. I said to the teller, ‘You don’t understand—please!’ I was begging and pleading, and a gentleman came over and tried to help. I had to fill out a ton of paperwork and open an account, and I cashed the check.”

As luck would have it, a talent agent spotted the blonde bombshell arguing with the teller, and just like that Theron had representation. She landed her first role months later in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest. Within one year, she was cast in Tom Hanks's directorial debut, That Thing You Do!

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Matthew McConaughey is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 15 Famous Actors Who Landed Roles with No Experience at All
Photo: Gramercy Pictures
Texas-born Matthew McConaughey had no interest in following in his father's footsteps and going into the oil business. He did eventually discover that he wanted to be an actor and appeared in a few student films and commercials. While in a hotel bar in Austin, the future Academy Award winner met a producer/casting director who later introduced McConaughey to Richard Linklater, then in the process of casting Dazed and Confused.

It's easy to imagine McConaughey now as "It would be a lot cooler if you did" Wooderson. But at the time, Linklater thought the Texan was too good-looking for the part, especially since the role called for an older sleaze ball who was only interested in partying with much younger high school girls. A simple mustache and longer hair changed Linklater's mind and "all right, all right, all right" found its way into McConaughey's vocabulary and the cultural lexicon.

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Evangeline Lilly is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 15 Famous Actors Who Landed Roles with No Experience at All
Photo: ABC
This sort of thing seems to happen so much that one would think talent agents just walk around looking for beautiful people. Canadian born Evangeline Lilly was doing just that, walking around British Columbia, when a talent agent from Ford modeling stopped her. Lilly had no intention of being a model but needed the dough to pay for school.

She soon got a job in a commercial for Live Links, a sex hotline for Canadian singles. From there she hit the small screen for bit parts on TV series like Judgement Day and Tru Calling. Of course, Lilly would break out in 2004, when she landed the role of Kate on the hit drama Lost.

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Johnny Depp is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 15 Famous Actors Who Landed Roles with No Experience at All
Photo: New Line Cinema
Johnny Depp had nothing better to do one day, so he decided to go with his pal Jackie Earle Haley on an audition for Nightmare of Elm Street. As is the case in these kind of scenarios, Haley didn't get the part, but director Wes Craven saw Depp around the set and asked him to audition. Depp got the part as Glen, who has one of the most disturbing and iconic kill scenes, in horror history. Depp would of course go on to become one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood.

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Marilyn Monroe is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 15 Famous Actors Who Landed Roles with No Experience at All
Photo: 20th Century Fox
Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson, spent most of her childhood in foster homes and orphanages. Perhaps the most iconic blonde sex symbol in American history, was actually born a brunette. Monroe was working at a plant when a photographer just happened to spot her, take her picture, and put it in a magazine. She then dyed her hair blonde and gained success as a model.

From there, Monroe took acting classes with a dream of becoming an actress like Lana Turner. She was cast in her first film in 1947, Dangerous Years, and would go on to appear in several classic Hollywood films, like Some Like It Hot and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

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Mel Gibson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 15 Famous Actors Who Landed Roles with No Experience at All
Photo: Roadshow Entertainment
The Australian actor did have a bit of theater experience in Sydney, however, he had no experience in Hollywood. According to Gibson, he gave a friend a ride to an audition for Mad Max. Gibson had got into a fight at the bar the night before, and his face was bruised up. Director George Miller saw Gibson and thought he would make a good fit for one of the "offbeat or villainous" roles in his post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie. Gibson returned to the set a few weeks later, face cleared of bruises, ridiculously handsome leading man good looks on full display. Miller took one look at him and cast Gibson as the titular hero. The Aussie went on to become one of the biggest movies stars of the 1980s and '90s.

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