“I kept auditioning, with no savings and no money, credit card debt gaining interest.”
Making it big in Hollywood is no easy feat and the journey to stardom is filled with highs and lows. For some stars, those lows saw them living paycheck to paycheck as they worked tirelessly to land the role that would give them their big break. With just dollars to their names, these celebs had to make it through tough times before they reached star status and thankfully, their breakthrough moment came just in the nick of time.
Find out which celebs got real about their financial hardships…
Right before Jennifer Lopez got her big break, she found herself without anywhere to live. She once explained that her mom wasn’t supportive of her dancing career and when she decided she needed to move out of her family’s home, she had no money to stay anywhere. Instead, she had to sleep on the couch of her dance studio.
“My mom and I butted heads. 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,” Jennifer told W Magazine.
Before landing his life-changing role on “Friends,” Matt LeBlanc was a struggling actor who only had a few dollars left in his bank account. He says that if he hadn’t gotten the role, it wouldn’t have been long before he had no money for food.
“You know when you think, ‘Alright, I got a little money in the bank. I can hold out until the next gig. I think I was down to $11 … Now, that’s holding out too long. I would have starved,” Matt said on “Conan.”
Chrissy Metz admits that before she booked “This Is Us,” she had less than a dollar to her name. Despite having appeared on “American Horror Story,” Chrissy says that she wasn’t landing any other roles and had to rely on friends and family for help.
“I kept auditioning, with no savings and no money, credit card debt gaining interest. I went on unemployment. I bought ramen noodles at dollar stores. I never had to — God forbid — live on the streets; I moved in with a roommate who told me, ‘Stay with me until you can afford rent. Don’t give up.’ People who supported me were like, ‘If you don’t have money for food, I’ll cook you dinner. You don’t have money for acting class? Let’s get together and read lines.’ I am so grateful that I had such an amazing support system, but when I booked ‘This Is Us,’ I had 81 cents in my bank account,” Chrissy told Glamour.
When Chris Pratt was an aspiring actor in Los Angeles, he worked at a “terrible” restaurant to help cover his bills — but only ended up making about $30 a day. He was making so little money that he had to rely on eating other people’s scraps when they were done with their meals.
“That’s how I ate. When you’re in Hollywood, you need a job that gives you your days free so you can try to audition for projects. So I’d work weekends and nights. I had no money. No one was coming to the restaurant so I wasn’t making any tips. I made 20 or 30 bucks a day maybe so it was really a place I’d go to eat. That kitchen fed me,” he said on “The Graham Norton Show.”
As a teenager, Charlize Theron moved to Los Angeles after having to give up her dancing career. Unfortunately, she had trouble getting roles and was living on limited money from a series of catalog modeling jobs. Things got so bad that when a bank teller refused to cash her out-of-state check, she didn’t have enough money to stay anywhere that night.
“I was trying to cash my last check from a modeling job in New York, but because it was an out-of-state check, the bank wouldn’t accept it — and I really needed the money. So I began pleading with this teller to help me…If I didn’t cash that check, I wouldn’t have had a place to sleep that night…I was begging and pleading, and a gentleman came over and tried to help…What I didn’t know is that I was auditioning for a guy who would end up being my manager. On the way out, the man who’d helped gave me his card. He said, ‘If you’re interested, I’ll represent you,'” Charlize told Oprah.
Before Dwayne Johnson was a movie star, he pursued a career as a professional football player. Unfortunately, a series of injuries set him back and he was eventually dropped from his team. At that point in his life, he decided to pivot his career — with just a few dollars to his name.
“The dreams I had, they’re dashed. There is no more football…That was my absolute worst time…I looked in my pocket, and I had seven bucks. Wow. Seven bucks to my name,” Dwayne told THR.
Richard Madden was just weeks away from running out of money and moving back in with his parents when he landed his role on “Game of Thrones.” Prior to getting the role, Richard says he was living on just $5 a day, which he usually ended up spending on beer instead of food.
“I had two options: I could either buy one meal, or a newspaper and a pin. It went the other way usually. Then I got that phone call [about ‘Thrones’] and I was on my last month’s rent. I asked my agent for an advance and that helped me get through the next little bit,” Richard recalled on “The Tonight Show.”
Carmen Electra was in the early stages of her entertainment career when she found herself totally broke because of some bad luck. The actress had just wrapped up a tour dancing for Prince and used the money to pay off debts from her first solo album. She was left with just a few thousand dollars — which was stolen by her then-boyfriend.
“I had a couple of years of being homeless in Hollywood…I remember sitting on a park bench in the valley. I was crying because I was stranded. It was over 100 degrees outside…I remember crying and watching cars drive by and thinking, ‘I would do anything just to be able to get from here to there — to get down the block!’ I was, like, ‘I can’t walk anymore,'” she shared with the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Before Kat Graham was on “Vampire Diaries,” she was a struggling actress and musician. She had just cents to her name when she landed her role — and even after the show started to become successful, she kept living like she was broke because she was afraid it wouldn’t last.
“I think when I booked ‘Vampire Diaries,’ I was sleeping on my mom’s floor and I had 86 cents to my name…I was back home living with my mom in her apartment when ‘Vampire Diaries’ pretty much exploded. I was on an inflatable mattress for the first six months of filming because I just didn’t trust [it would last],” Kat told People.
Early on in Halle Berry’s career, she was living in New York City, paying her rent with money she had made modeling. Unfortunately, she ran out of funds quickly and after just a few months, she had to ask her family for help. After her mom refused to send her any cash, she had to figure out how to live without money. She ended up living at a homeless shelter for some time.
“That was rough. Some fine hours…I was out of my cash. I called my mother and asked her to send me some money, and she said no…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. Giving up was never an option. It was to prove to her and everybody else,” Halle told People.
When Camila Alves moved to America as a teenager to pursue modeling, she left everything she knew behind. She didn’t have a family to support her and had to find a way to get by without any money.
“I came here when I was 15 to live with my aunt in L.A. When I left Brazil, my family, my friends, my culture, I left everything I knew. I was so young…I didn’t speak English…I didn’t have the luxury to call my parents to pay my bills, so I cleaned houses and worked in restaurants as I learned English and saved to go to New York to look for an agency to represent me,” she told ATX Woman.