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Behind every great success story lies years of struggle, failure, and disappointment. But for these celebrities, there was also a surprising amount of criminal mischief, substance abuse, and clowns. The following people are lucky they landed careers as iconic entertainers, because they were completely shitty at their first jobs.

Hugh Jackman: Tony And Golden Globe Winner, World's Worst Clown

Universal Pictures

Hugh Jackman started off his career like many young actors do: by taking acting classes. And also like many young actors, he really sucked at them. In his own words, he was a total dunce. Luckily, being a dunce was practically every job requirement for his day job. Everyone, meet Coco the Clown:

Fitzy and Wippa / Twitter
The only sad clown we've ever felt sorry for.

That's Jackman back when he was trying to make a living as a party clown. He and his best friend Stan called themselves "Coco and Bozo," which are as uninspired as clown names can get. They could not have been any lazier if they called themselves "Clown Name TBD" and "Fuck Off, You Think Of Something." To make matters worse, neither of them knew any tricks. At all.

Jackman couldn't juggle or do magic, so he and Bozo passed the time by jumping into garbage cans and hurling eggs at each other. Needless to say, kids were not impressed, and weren't averse to straight-up telling them that they sucked in the middle of their "performances."

Warner Brothers Pictures
A tradition that still lives on today.

The kids' fathers were less direct, as they were almost certainly confused about how all that pancake makeup got on their wives' erogenous zones.

Tom Cruise: Superstar Actor, Shitty Priest

Paramount Pictures

When most people think of Tom Cruise, they think of Scientology. He's become synonymous with the religion known for worshiping a space alien and covering up gay sex. Well, Cruise very nearly became synonymous with a religion known for worshiping a magical man in the sky and covering up child sex.

Yes, Cruise was almost a Catholic priest. He was recruited at the age of 14 for St. Francis Seminary School in Cincinnati. According to Father Ric Schneider, who recruited him, young Tom was "instantly hooked." When Cruise applied to the school, he was required to take an IQ test, which he barely passed with the exact minimum score of 110. So he wasn't an exceptional student, but no priest is going to turn away a 14-year-old Tom Cruise.

The original risky business.

He might still be there, working as a priest and acting in the seminary's theater department, if it weren't for a single night of shenanigans that brought it all to an end. Under the cover of night, far from their God's heavenly gaze, Cruise and his friend Shane Dempler hatched a scheme to steal liquor from the Franciscan fathers. Dempler snagged them while Cruise waited below, catching bottles as they were thrown out the window. The two amateur burglars broke most of them, but managed to save enough to sneak into the woods and get hammered. Everything was going according to plan, until some of the other students got involved and way too fucking drunk, in that order.

Father Ric Schneider
A similar incident later in life led to Rock Of Ages.

The other students got caught staggering home, and caved during interrogation. They snitched on Cruise and Dempler, and the school sent their parents letters saying they'd prefer they didn't return. But as they say in outer space, "God's loss is Xenu's gain."

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Steve McQueen: Legendary Actor, Awful Marine

United Artist

The "King of Cool" himself, Steve McQueen, enlisted in the US Marines out of pure boredom in 1947. What followed were three years of him trying to turn the Marines into an '80s comedy.

Steve McQueen
Sadly, "Louie, Louie" hadn't been written yet.

Assigned to an armored unit, it didn't take long for McQueen to get into trouble. First, he turned a weekend pass with his girlfriend into a two-week vacation. When the MPs finally caught up with him, he decided that the best course of action was to resist arrest. It didn't end well, and he spent the next 41 days in jail. The lesson he learned from this was that he should immediately attempt the exact same thing again.

Steve McQueen
(Drunk) Love conquers all.

McQueen wasn't only a troublemaker when it led to women. He also broke regulations to modify a tank in order to increase its speed. Why? Because he wanted to have the fastest tank in the unit. The faster your tank gets inside the battle zone, the sooner Steve McQueen gets inside the battle zone's women.

He accidentally blew the tank up.

Steve McQueen
"This is not the getting blown I was envisioning."

But it wasn't just military equipment he exploded. He once used an amphibious landing craft's engine to heat up a can of beans and accidentally blew them the fuck up. His hijinks were so ridiculous and constant that he was demoted to Private seven times.

CBS Television
"What's wrong with privates? Some of my favorite parts are privates."

It's a miracle that he wasn't kicked out of the service entirely, but his infractions were never quite enough to warrant it. He exploded by for three years before being discharged in 1950, and he used the money to pay for acting school. And then he became Steve Motherfucking McQueen, so it all worked out in the end.

Kurt Vonnegut: Beloved Writer, Crappy Car Dealer

Whyaduck Productions

Kurt Vonnegut wrote Slaughterhouse Five, the amazing book that confused you in ninth grade. But he didn't always make a living through writing. One day, while he was driving in Cape Cod, Vonnegut happened upon a truck carrying a fancy new car called a "Saab." At the time, the company was mostly known for fighter jets, so the curious Vonnegut followed the truck all the way to the dealer to test drive one of the cars. He did not have a busy schedule that day.

It was apparently the most successful test drive ever, as Vonnegut not only wanted a Saab -- he wanted all the Saabs. He was convinced that everyone on Cape Cod would want one, and told his wife that they should open a dealership as soon as they got home. Before long, Vonnegut was running the only Saab dealership on Cape Cod, and one of the first in the United States. But as with most financial decisions made in the blink of an eye, it ended poorly.

Edie Vonnegut
So it goes.

As it turns out, that one test drive didn't reveal all the problems with the car -- mainly that when started in cold weather, it would, and we quote, "lay down a smokescreen like a destroyer in a naval engagement." More than once, Vonnegut's expensive smoke machines blanketed the town in a cloud of carcinogens.

His salesmanship might have been as bad as his carbon footprint. On the rare occasions on which he could convince a customer to sit in the passenger seat for a test drive, Vonnegut would make them sick "demonstrating" the front-wheel drive by taking corners like a European rally car driver. And if that didn't turn them off of buying the car, Vonnegut's bashing of Swedish engineering probably did the trick. But maybe he was bitter after being kicked out of Saab's mechanic school.

Cape Cod Community College
He had to put "information" in quotes because fart noises and wanking motions technically aren't informative.

Wow. Kurt Vonnegut wasn't just bad at selling cars; he was bad at everything cars. His dealership closed less than a year after it opened. He left with several valuable lessons about impulse control and way too much stationary with his dealership's name on it. He used it for sketches for years to come.

Kurt Vonnegut
Each one worth way more than those Saabs ever were.

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Ice-T: Fine Rapper and Actor, Terrible Soldier

Brad Barket/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

In 1976, rapper Ice-T was 18-year-old Tracy Marrow, and like all teenagers with great decision-making skills, he had a new daughter on the way. Unsure of how to support her, he walked into the local recruiting office and said, verbatim, "Yo, I want to be in the Army." And the United States Army replied, "You had us at 'Yo.'"

Ice T
His followup pitch, "Yo, I also want a general's paycheck" was met with far less enthusiasm.

Ice got through basic and moved on to advanced individual training at Ft. Benning to become an infantryman. While there, one of the commanding officers started recruiting the men who seemed to have the most street smarts. Since that's 90 percent of Ice-T's personality, he was chosen, and he was sent out at night to steal things for his CO. Not necessarily drugs or liquor, but gear that would ordinarily be a hassle to get through normal requisitioning.

The operation was a success ... until the CO decided that he needed a blue rug for his office and sent Ice-T and his gang off on an elaborate floor-covering heist. But while the thieves were inside, their getaway driver took off, and later confessed to the crime. Ice-T soon found himself in jail facing burglary charges. The Army, being a well-oiled machine of logistics and bureaucracy, chose that moment to pay him his $2,500 bonus. So he broke out of jail and went AWOL. He reappeared across the country in LA, then called his CO and "convinced" him to smooth things over.

Mohylek / Wiki Commons
Presumably by reading him a rough draft of the lyrics to "Cop Killer."

In T's own words, "He started to tell me he couldn't help, but I cut him the fuck off. 'You got a lot more to lose than me. You got your retirement on the line. So figure this shit out!' I said. 'Call me when it's smoothed over and I'll come back.'" It's very likely this phone call in the late '70s was the exact moment when not giving a single fuck was first invented.

Ice-T returned to his unit after a month of being AWOL and managed to get off with only an Article 15 -- the military equivalent of a disapproving look. He went on to finish his military obligation at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, where it became clear that he wasn't going to pursue a career serving his country. He got out four months early on a sole parent discharge, then headed to LA to pursue a new musical style called "rappening." The name would later change.

Gerard Butler: Great Actor, Too Drunk For Lawyering

Warner Brothers Pictures

You probably know Gerard Butler as the man who front-kicked a Persian messenger into his city's well in the movie 300. But before he was inspiring Flint, Michigan's drinking water policies, Gerard was drinking his way through law school.

Butler studied law at the University of Glasgow, where he became president of the Law Society and double president of partying. Despite the incredible amount of liquor he filled himself with, he graduated with honors and was on his way to being a functioning alcoholic lawyer. Things took a turn for the worse, however, when Butler took a year after graduation to visit America. And nobody overdoes things like America. Butler spent the next 12 months in Venice Beach drinking, working odd jobs, traveling, drinking, and getting arrested. For drinking.

Overture Films
So other than all the murder, Law Abiding Citizen was shockingly autobiographical.

After seeing our great country, then drinking away the memory of it, Butler returned to Scotland and took a job as a trainee civil lawyer. But he brought too much America back with him. He drank beyond reason, broke bottles over his head, ran in front of cars, and once woke up in Paris, covered in blood and bruises with no idea how he got there. It got bad enough that he was fired one week before he was to receive his full certification as a lawyer. Luckily, he had all the skills needed to become an actor, and was cast in his first film less than a year later.

He could sit there and look whacked-out as fuck with the best of them.

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Believe it or not, not every famous person was born into the limelight, and some career paths to stardom had unusual beginnings. See what we mean in 7 Celebrities Who Had Badass Careers You Didn't Know About and 7 Celebrities With Weird-Ass Pre-Fame Lives.

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