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Famous Actors Who Landed Roles With No Experience At All

Updated April 22, 2021 254.7k views20 items

Imagine being so beautiful that you can simply walk down the street and a talent agent will 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 he get a role in Mad Max after having no prior film acting experience whatsoever, but also, 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. Read more about actors that came from nothing and successful actors without formal training below. 

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  • Photo: Frank Driggs Collection / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    John Wayne was initially a USC football player, but he lost his scholarship thanks to a broken collarbone, so he didn't know how to pay for college. His coach frequently gave western star Tom Mix tickets to USC games, so director John Ford hired Wayne to work in the props department of Fox Studios, as a favor to the coach. Wayne continued working in the props department, and as an extra, until his relationship with John Ford paid off, and he got his big break starring in his film, Stagecoach

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    • Photo: David Shankbone / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

      Initially, Ashton Kutcher was a student at the University of Iowa, studying biochemical engineering in the hopes of finding a cure for his twin brother's cerebral palsy and septal heart defect. While out at a bar, he was approached by a model scout who encouraged him to enter the "Fresh Faces of Iowa" contest. After winning the contest, he scored a modeling contract, which led to gigs with Calvin Klein and Versace, and eventually, a role on the popular sitcom That '70s Show, which was his big break. 

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      • Photo: Lost / 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, an adult 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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        • Pamela Anderson

          Photo: Home Improvement / ABC

          Pamela Anderson was leading the life of a simple fitness instructor up in Canada during the 1980s. One day, she went to a Canadian football game wearing a Labatt's T-shirt and suddenly her whole life changed. Up went a picture of the buxom blonde on the stadium's big screen, and the crowd went so crazy for her that they summoned Anderson down to the field for a standing ovation.

          A contract with a beer company followed that made her "The Blue Zone Girl," then a Playboy centerfold in 1989. Hollywood came calling quickly after that. Anderson played bit parts on several television shows, before landing the gig of Lisa on Home Improvement. Of course, the sex symbol then went on to play C.J. Parker for five seasons of Baywatch.

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