Unless they're lucky enough to tumble out of a Kardashian, most people aren't born celebrities. Before your favorite actors, musicians, and TV personalities got their big break, they had to work for a living just like the rest of us schlubs. And for the most part, these were not romantic careers: waiting tables, pumping gas, artisting sandwiches, taming lions ...
5Christopher Walken Started Out as a Lion Tamer
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With one glance, you know that Christopher Walken has never had a normal life. You don't come out looking like a man-ferret and sounding like a bridge troll who received elocution lessons from the Lost in Space robot after a lifetime spent slinging horse meat at Arby's. So while it was certainly unexpected, we can't really say we were surprised to learn that Christopher Walken worked as a lion tamer in a traveling circus as a teenager.
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He was also a clown as a child. Seriously. That's him.
Actually, he was more of a lion tamer's assistant -- not even Christopher "Makes Broadway Dance Moves Intimidating" Walken could leap, unharmed, directly into the mouth of a great cat straight out of junior high. But that doesn't mean he just did the sweeping up -- it only means that he trained one lion at a time instead of several. According to Walken, it was "more like a big dog than anything."
Think that's an understatement?
Walken found the position advertised in the help wanted section and applied simply because "I've always liked cats."
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Young Walken, pictured here with other things he "likes."
That's like saying you jumped into the volcano because you do well with heat.
Apparently, most of the heavy lion wrangling was done by the owner of the circus, with Walken posing as his son. When the tamer was finished, he'd leave the teenage Walken alone with "Sheba" and Walken would crack his whip to make her do tricks. But as much as you'd like to envision Christopher Walken fighting a lion with nothing but a bit of fancy rope, it was all for show: In reality, Walken and Sheba were best friends. And that's ... actually way more fun to envision anyway. Get on it, screenwriters.
Here's one of Walken during his lion tamer days. You're welcome.
By the way, Christopher Walken isn't the only actor Hollywood dragged out of the circus ...
4Pierce Brosnan Started as a Fire Eater
Pierce Brosnan was a damn fine James Bond in a series of god-awful James Bond films. But that wasn't so much Brosnan's fault as that of the writers who decided to give him an invisible car and have him fight Madonna. But being one-quarter badass and three-quarters ridiculous wasn't a new turn of events for Brosnan: He first got his start in showbiz by swallowing fire in the circus.
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Circus work is one of the more dignified moments on his resume.
Brosnan was studying acting in London's Oval House Theatre as a youth when he happened to pass by a fire-eating workshop. While the more rational of us might have walked away from the class on how best to light your own face on fire, Brosnan saw that there was a bunch of topless women in the class and signed right up. Apparently, part of the act was that the participants would drag the flames across their bare chests, and wearing a bra just got in the way of things. So if you come away from this article with only one interesting bit of trivia, let it be this: Pierce Brosnan loves himself some flaming tits.
Eventually, his talents were noticed by the owner of a circus, who gave him a job and jump-started his career as an entertainer. Brosnan had no more use for the circus life after he started getting film roles, but he did get to display his fire-eating talents a few more times. He did it once in an episode of his pre-Bond TV show Remington Steele, and after GoldenEye, he was invited to do it again on an episode of The Muppet Show. Because breathing fire in a room full of cloth puppets and children couldn't possibly go wrong.
And go wrong it did.
The fact that he never killed anyone this way as 007 is a crime against cinema.
No, Pierce Brosnan didn't spit fire on Miss Piggy as the children screamed; the show's prop department gave him the wrong kind of fuel, so when he attempted the trick, he burned the inside of his mouth out. However, he carried on with his duties valiantly, even though he was dying inside. Much like he did on the set of Die Another Day.