Famous people's normal jobs: Jennifer Aniston as a bike messenger to Madonna at Dunkin'

From chicken mascots to cabin crew, these famous faces didn't always have the glamorous jobs they're now known for

We know Jennifer Aniston best as one of the US’s most famous actors of the last 25 years, but the Friends star’s CV has its fair share of regular jobs on it, which predate her 10-year run on the sitcom.

Speaking to Jimmy Fallon, Aniston, 52, revealed that before she was famous, she had a much less glamorous jobs, such as as a bike messenger.

“I was a bike messenger for a day in New York City,” Aniston said during her The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon interview.

“I worked at an advertising agency after school. My mum actually worked there. So, to make extra money, I would do odd jobs. And one day their bike messenger just didn’t show up … I just boldly said yes and they gave me this bag, and they put all these cylinders in this bag.”

The job wasn't without risk. “I don’t know how I survived the day,” she said, “... to be on Fifth Avenue with traffic, and all that I was holding.

“I think I might have gotten into a cab just to finish the day.”

Aniston is far from the only star to have worked a regular day job before making it big. Here we round up some jobs A-list Hollywood celebrities had before they were famous …

1. Harrison Ford was a carpenter

When Harrison Ford, 79, was first starting out in Hollywood, he was making extra money as a carpenter, and it was down to a woodwork job that Star Wars director George Lucas considered him for a role.

“I was working on an elaborate portico entrance to Francis Ford Coppola’s offices, working as a carpenter, when George walked in with Richard Dreyfuss to begin the first of the interviews for Star Wars," Ford told Rolling Stone magazine. "Somehow that rang a bell with George, and I became, eventually, Han Solo.”

Hollywood casting director and producer Fred Roos recalled, as mentioned in Chris Taylor's How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise: “Harrison had done a lot of carpentry for me. He needed money, he had kids, he wasn’t a big movie star yet. The day he was doing it, George happened to be there. It was serendipitous.”

2. Angelina Jolie trained to be a funeral director

US actress and humanitarian campaigner Angelina Jolie leaves Lancaster House in central London on April 11, 2013 after speaking during an announcement of funding to address conflict sexual violence on the sidelines of the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting. British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Angelina Jolie spoke at the G8 Foreign Minister’s meeting to announce 10 million GBP (15,340,000 USD) funding to support efforts to tackle sexual violence in conflict and violence against women and girls (VAWG). AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL

It’s no secret that Angelina Jolie has a fascination with the more macabre things in life (and death), so it perhaps comes as little surprise that she had a stint as a funeral director.

The Maleficent star, 46, revealed in a 60 Minutes interview that the job was her backup plan, should Hollywood not work out for her.

"It sounds like this very strange, eccentric, dark thing to do but in fact I lost my grandfather and was very upset with his funeral," she said. "How somebody passes and how family deals with this passing and what death is should be addressed in a different way.

"If this whole acting thing didn't work out that was going to be my path."

In her bid to train for the role, she took an at-home embalming course.

3. Tan France was a flight attendant

Queer Eye’s Tan France, 38, is known for his on-point fashion advice, but he’s also trained to keep his cool at 30,000 feet, as he had a short stint as cabin crew.

The British-Pakistani television personality revealed in his autobiography, Naturally Tan: A Memoir, that he was a flight attendant for Britannia Airways in the early 2000s when he was 19.

"It was meant to be a six-month seasonal job, but I only lasted two months," he wrote. "The 30-day training included some of the hardest moments of my life. It was very difficult, and many people failed ... I felt like a glorified waiter."

4. Madonna worked at Dunkin' Donuts

FILE PHOTO: 2018 MTV Video Music Awards - Photo Room - Radio City Music Hall, New York, U.S., August 20, 2018. - Madonna poses backstage. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

The Material Girl, 63, may be worth an estimated $850 million now, but in the late 1970s, when she was starting in the music industry, Madonna got a job at Dunkin' Donuts to try and make ends meet after she moved to New York City.

Speaking to Howard Stern in a 2015 interview, she was asked about the stint. “Were you fired because you squirted jelly over everyone?” Stern asked.

“I was playing with the jelly squirter machine, yeah,” she replied. She said the management accused her of not “taking the job seriously”.

5. Danny DeVito was a hairdresser

Before he was famous, Danny DeVito, 76, followed his sister into hairdressing.

"I did enjoy it, I loved it," he said in a 2012 Guardian interview. "I can joke about the fact that I was thrust into a bevy of beauties every day and I was one of the straight ones … But kidding aside, I seriously enjoyed it."

6. Margot Robbie worked at Subway

She has starred in The Wolf of Wall Street, Suicide Squad and I, Tonya, but the Australian actor started out in Subway.

Speaking to Delish, the Oscar nominee, 31, made it clear she took the role seriously, saying: “I actually don’t go that often anymore, because I watch them make it badly, and I’m upset."

7. Meghan Markle was a calligrapher

To anyone who has seen cards signed by the Duchess of Sussex, 40, it will come as no surprise that she had a stint as a calligrapher, because her handwriting is flawless.

The royal, who was an actress before marrying Britain’s Prince Harry, worked at Paper Source stationery store for a year, from 2004.

She said in a post on her now-closed blog, Tig: “If given the option between fingers to keyboard, or pen to paper, I will always choose the latter. Because amongst the throwback things that I love… what trumps all is my love of writing (and receiving) a handwritten note.”

In the past, she has also revealed that she penned the invitations for Robin Thicke and Paula Patton’s 2005 wedding.

8. Beyonce worked in a salon

Before the days of Destiny’s Child, Beyonce, 40, was kept busy in her mother Tina Knowles-Lawson’s Texas salon.

Looking back on the time in the salon, she said: “From 6 to 9 years old, I would sing and put on little shows by myself for the women who wanted a hot press and curl and some good conversation.

"I helped sweep hair off the floor for tips to pay for my season pass to Six Flags."

9. Eva Longoria worked at Wendy’s

Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria, 46, is open about her love for cooking, but it may well have started at a Wendy’s.

Speaking to Rachael Ray about Wendy’s burgers, she said: “What we learned at Wendy’s was mayonnaise goes on the bun first, to seal the bun, so the bun stays nice. Then you put the ketchup. And [then] mustard goes on the meat, because it brings out the flavour of meat."

10. Dwayne Johnson was a dishwasher

Long before he was a wrestler, the second most-followed person on Instagram and in-demand movie star, Dwayne Johnson, 49, was a dishwasher.

"My first job, I started working in a pizza shop called Emilio's Pizza," he says in a Masterclass promotional video. "My pay was $3.45 per hour and my job was that of a dishwasher."

He since tweeted about the role, saying: “First job at 13 years old [was] washing dishes from 3pm-11pm daily. Yup, these days I still wash every dish.”

11. Tiffany Haddish worked as airport ground staff

Comedy star Tiffany Haddish, 41, brought the same energy to her role on the ground staff team for Alaska Airlines as she does to her hit films, it seems.

“I would like to think of myself as one of the best customer service agents,” she told Stephen Colbert in 2019. “I worked at the gates and my goal was always to bring happiness and joy to people – still to this day.”

She said that she was particularly good at bringing flair to the Tannoy announcements.

“We would have a flight delayed to Mexico or something, people have bad attitudes and stuff,’ she said. Then when the gate opened, she said she would shout out, “It’s time to go to Mexico!”

12. Brad Pitt was a chicken mascot

Proof that he would take any role in Hollywood at the beginning of his career, Brad Pitt, 57, started out as a chicken mascot at an El Pollo Loco restaurant.

He would stand outside the eatery in the costume to attract customers and, today, the exact restaurant is pointed out on celebrity tours of Los Angeles.

Updated: September 23rd 2021, 4:38 AM