#2. Burt Reynolds
Long before Boogie Nights or even Smokey and the Bandit, Burt Reynolds had no interest in acting at all. Instead he put all his focus into two things: Playing football and diving off airboats onto the backs of deer. Right now you are likely thinking, "What? Football? That's crazy!" We'll get to that in a second. Reynolds earned a reputation in his hometown for jumping off a moving vehicle onto the back of a wild animal, and not just any wild animal, one that's famous for carrying spikes on its head. To give you the appropriate context, in the same decade that actors like Jack Nicholson were graduating high school and moving to Los Angeles to start in the industry on the bottom rung, Burt Reynolds was tackling deer in the Everglades.
"Forget Kevin, man. He's gone. Just go!"
When Reynolds graduated from high school in Florida, it looked like a foregone conclusion that he would play football. He was named First Team All State and had his choice of Division I schools all offering him scholarships. He was even drafted by the Baltimore Colts before a serious injury closed the door on his football career. Without football, he was suddenly open to new life goals and even briefly considered becoming a police officer, partially because his father was a cop and partially because law enforcement is legally obligated to hire anyone who can grow such a breathtaking mustache.
Reynolds started picking up credits at a junior college on the side and during a class, he was asked to read Shakespeare aloud. His professor, Watson B. Duncan, was so impressed with Burt Reynolds handling of the text that he encouraged him to join a play. Duncan was also most likely drunk.
Getty"To be or not to be, baby. What's the hang up?"
The very first play that Reynolds ever did was Outward Bound and his performance was so impressive that he won a scholarship to the Hyde Park Playhouse in New York. From there, opportunities tripped all over themselves just to get in Burt Reynolds' lap. He picked up an agent and was immediately cast in a touring play, while simultaneously becoming best friends with Academy Award Winner Joanne Woodward. From there, his theater career took off and eventually transferred over to film where he made millions of dollars smiling and being overtly sexual. Apparently success is fairly easy to catch after you've spent your childhood running down deer.
#1. Steven Seagal
You may know Steven Seagal from Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, Half Past Dead and countless other movies that promise heaps of deadly dying in three word titles. He's the character who spends 20 minutes of every film killing bad guys with creative martial arts, and the other 70 minutes disguised as a plank of wood. Incidentally, his mastery of both is exactly what caught the eye of Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz when Seagal was still a nobody.
Ovitz was a high-powered talent agent for CAA who was taking aikido classes from Seagal in the late '80s and, purportedly, wanted to prove a theory that he could make anyone a movie star. Ovitz has never officially stated that he used Steven Seagal to test his own power in the industry but some of the rumors go so far as to say that Ovitz made a bet that he could turn even the most uncharismatic person into a celebrity. It's exactly like the plot of My Fair Lady except if Henry Higgins selected Eliza for her ability to break bones.
"The rain in Spain falls mainly ON DEADLY GROUND."
Regardless of the reason Ovitz selected a ponytail connected to a hunk of ground meat, he did everything in his power to make Seagal a superstar. Ovitz brought him to Warner studios where Seagal says, "They gave me a pile of scripts and basically said, 'Pick one and we'll do it with you.'" He picked Above the Law and they gave him a producer credit as a bonus. Miraculously, it worked and Seagal became famous for his portrayal of Nico Toscani. So famous, in fact, that Seagal insisted on playing the same character in every other movie he's made since.
Getty"I don't understand the problem."