Celebrity

13 Celebrities Who Went From Homeless To Hollywood

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It's easy for all of us to sit and judge those who have made it to Hollywood. Sure, some people fell into fame and maybe had some help along the way, but there are also people who worked their butts off to get where they are, all because they had a dream they wanted to follow.

These celebrities all managed to work their way from living on the streets to becoming some of the biggest names in Hollywood, proving that hard work really does pay off.

1. Taylor Kitsch

SIPA

Kitcsch, who we now know from Friday Night lights, True Detective, and Waco, spent nights sleeping in subway cars before he found his big break. The Canadian actor started out as a model, but soon those gigs started drying up. Because he didn't have a working Visa anymore, he couldn't get a job. He briefly had a job as a caterer, but they ended up stiffing him on the money and he quit. He was in New York with nowhere to live.

“I was f****** homeless—literally,” he said. "I’d go to my buddy’s place, stay there ‘til 11 or 12 at night, and then say, ‘Well, I’ll see you in a bit!” says Kitsch. “ Then I’d go to the subway and pass out there in one of the subway cars until five or six in the morning—however long I could—and after that, go to the gym and shower."

Kitsch then decided to try his luck in Los Angeles.

“I was living in my car in L.A. for, like, four months,” he said. “It was a Firefly—a tiny hatchback with 12-inch wheels. Not great to sleep in. And the f****** thing—the window would jam on the side door, and I was so mad at it that I was pulling it one day and it just shattered. Cut to me with clear plastic over the window held down with duct tape.”

The actor returned home to Vancouver, thinking it was over, but he finally started landing roles again, and now has a big name in Hollywood.

2. Shania Twain

BroadImage

Even though she may seem like a powerhouse now, Twain had a difficult childhood growing up. She, her mom, and her siblings managed to escape her abusive father, but found themselves with nowhere to go. In her memoir, Twain recalls staying in homeless shelters in Toronto.

“Mom got out of the car to use a pay phone while we sat and waited in the car, returning a few minutes later with a piece of paper on which she’d scribbled the address of a homeless shelter," Twain wrote. "That night, we slept in a crowded, sweltering place on cot-like beds spread out along the walls of a series of spacious, open rooms designed for large groups.”

Despite her rough start, and rough middle, Twain has become one of the biggest names in country music, and has just started off on a world tour.

3. Jim Carrey

© SBUKLEY | DREAMSTIME

Carrey, always the funny man, spoke about his experience as a homeless teen during one of his stand-up routines. But just because he was making light of the situation doesn't mean it's not true.

"A lot of people don't know this, but when I was about 14 or 15, my father lost his job and I actually became homeless for quite some time," Carrey said. "Of course I grew up in Canada so I thought we had just gone camping. But [my parents] kept me in the dark because they were embarrassed, it was an embarrassing thing."

Carrey also spoke about his time as a homeless teen on Inside the Actors Studio.

“My father was a musician who got a 'regular job' to support his children," Carrey told James Lipton. "When he lost his job, that's when everything fell apart. We went from 'lower middle class' to 'poor.' We were living out of a van. I quit school at age 15 to begin working to help support my family as a janitor.”

Now, Carrey is considered one of the funniest people in Hollywood.

4. Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson
Film Magic

Though she rarely talks about it publicly, American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson was homeless before she became a Grammy-winning artist. While she was in Los Angeles trying to make it as a star, her apartment caught fire and burned to the ground. Unable to afford anything else, Clarkson lived out of her car and in shelters in the city. In 2002, she moved back home to Texas, which is where she heard about auditions for American Idol.

5. Kelsey Grammer

Kelsey Grammer
AP

Grammer's life was filled with tragedy, as his sister and father were murdered and his half-brothers were killed in a scuba diving accident. In a 1994 interview, Grammer admitted that he was at one point homeless, and he lived in an alley behind a theater where he used to perform. All the Frasier actor had to shelter himself was his motorcycle.

6. Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank
AP

Before she was on Oscar-winning actress, Swank lived in her car with her mother. The duo had moved to Los Angeles when Swank was a teen so that she pursue her acting dream. But it wasn't perfect at first, but they made it work.

"We had a friend who was selling their house,” she told CBS News. “And so they said, ‘You know, there’s no furniture, but you can stay there at night. And then, during the day, you have to leave so we can try and sell it. So we got air mattresses. Blew the air mattresses up. Slept on the air mattresses. And left in the morning.”

Within a few months, Swank was landing acting roles and they were able to find more permanent living arrangements.

7. Chris Pratt

CNBC News

Pratt is known as a pretty easy-going guy, and that's always been the case. The difference now is that he has money to be easy-going and isn't living out of his van.

"I had a friend who was like, ‘Dude, you’ve got to come [to Hawaii],'" Pratt said. "We set up camp on the beach and lived the dream."

He lived in a van with a picture of Scooby-Doo and shaggy on it, and after getting his big break, Pratt shared a picture of him and the van.

Facebook

“This is the van I lived in!!! In my hand is the script for the movie that got me out of Maui," he captioned the photo. "Crazy.”

8. Steve Jobs

steve jobs
Biography

The late CEO of Apple may have been worth billions, but in 2005 he revealed that he was homeless while in university.

“I didn’t have a dorm room," he said. "So I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple.”

9. Halle Berry

NBC

Berry was a struggling actress at just 21 years old, and she soon learned that the money she had saved up wasn't going to get her far in New York City.

“I mean three months later, I was out of my cash,” she explained. “I called my mother and asked her to send me some money, and she said no, and that subsequently led to a year of not speaking to her because I was so upset that she wouldn’t help me. That’s probably one of the best things she did for me … She said, ‘If you want to be there, then you work it out.’ And I had to work it out."

But despite her resentment then, Berry says she's used her experience as being homeless to better her life.

"It taught me how to take care of myself and that I could live through any situation, even if it meant going to a shelter for a small stint, or living within my means, which were meager. I became a person who knows that I will always make my own way."

10. Dr. Phil

Dr. Phil

His life may be devoted to helping other people now, but when he was a kid, Dr. Phil was living out of a car with his dad.

"The summer before I became a teenager, I was homeless, living in a car with my dad in Kansas City," he said in an interview. "We eventually got a room at the downtown YMCA for five bucks a week, and then we put together some money for a deposit on a one-bedroom apartment that had no running water, electricity, heat, or air-conditioning."

11. Jewel

Jewel
Wikipedia

The multi-platinum singer was fired from her job after refusing to have sex with her boss, which is outrageous in itself, but it left her homeless for a period of time.

"I ended up homeless for a year," she said on her website. "I kept writing songs, and started singing in a local coffee shop called The Inner Change Cafe. I developed a loyal following. No one knew I was homeless."

12. Jennifer Lopez

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She may be an international triple threat now, but when she was 18, J-Lo was just hoping to find somewhere safe to sleep.

"My mom and I butted heads," Lopez said in an interview. "I didn’t want to go to college -- I wanted to try dance full-time. So she and I had a break. I started sleeping on the sofa in the dance studio. I was homeless, but I told her, 'This is what I have to do.' A few months later, I landed a job dancing in Europe. When I got back, I booked 'In Living Color.' I became a Fly Girl and moved to L.A. It all happened in a year."

13. Sylvester Stallone

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Stallone was so broke, he had to sell his beloved dog while trying to get his career started.

"I tied my dog up at the store with a sign that asked for a hundred bucks," Stallone recalled. "I got $50 from this guy called Little Jimmy. You get nothing without struggle."

Once Stallone sold the script for Rocky, he went to get the dog back from Little Jimmy, but it almost didn't go through.

When I sold the script for Rocky, I went to see Little Jimmy and begged him for giving the dog back. He lined up his children and said, ‘Oh my kids love the dog’. I said, ‘You’ve only had him for a week…’ Jimmy wanted to fight me and said he was gonna kill me, he was a crazy little person. I couldn’t fight him, they’d arrest me, and so I offered him to pay $3,000. I ended up putting him in the movie. Do you remember in Rocky where the little guy goes, ‘Hey, did ya win?’ and I go, ‘What are you, deaf?’ and he goes, ‘No, I’m short.’ That’s him.

All of these celebrities prove that regardless of where you come from or how hard things get, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel...you just have to keep chasing it.

Meagan has been a writer with Shared for two years and has an intense love for Netflix, napping, and carbohydrates. Please feel free to contact me with questions or story ideas! meagan@shared.com