It’s easy to forget that working actors and musicians once had normal jobs. You know, just like us. That’s right: Before they blew up, there was many a celebrity who waited tables, cooked in kitchens and served customers from behind the bar. Ahead, seven celebrities who were bartenders…before fame found them.
Before he made a name for himself as a country-western singer, Kris Kristofferson paid his dues working on an oil rig, teaching English and even working as janitor. He also spent time tending bar—all before finding great success as a songwriter in the late ‘60s and ‘70s.
In the mid-‘80s, The Daily Show fixture and funnyman Jon Stewart worked at one of New Jersey’s most famed punk clubs, City Gardens. He told Vulture that being behind the bar during legendary hardcore shows had its advantage: “That's why the hardcore shows were rough, man, because people would just get bloodied. That's why being behind the bar was kind of nice. You could hear the music and you could do your thing."
Before Speed, before Gravity and before Heat, Sandra Bullock was a working actress, paying bills by tending bar while going on auditions. Like Stewart, she learned a thing or two—which likely served her future career quite well. "I learned a lot of accents as a bartender," Bullock told the AP. "A lot of girls came in looking for rich husbands. I learned to imitate them."
It should come as no surprise that a talk show host would have previously worked as a bartender. The ability to listen is a skill neither can fake. In the case of comedian Ellen DeGeneres, she’s pretty much done it all—from waitressing and bartending to hosting her own show and the Oscars—all while taking selfies with Hollywood’s elite. Who says skills can’t transfer between gigs?
Actor John Goodman once called Bruce Willis one of the best bartenders in America, and on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Willis admitted he might have been good—mostly because he was giving drinks away. The trick, Willis said, isn’t the ability to throw bottles around. “I don’t charge anyone,” he admitted.
R&B singer Kelis is a trained chef who’s been featured on Vice Munchies, Cooking Channel and even named her sixth studio album Food. Despite her formal training at Le Cordon Bleu as an adult, Kelis bartended when she was first trying to break into the music biz. Years later, it’s culinary that’s her love, not mixology, but we bet she mixes a mean milkshake.
Actor Michael Fassbender made quite a name for himself in the film Shame, in which he shamelessly bared it all. But before he was cast in the acclaimed film, and just before landing any roles, Fassbender ran a bar. “I was thinking, what if this doesn’t work out? I haven’t been to university, I’m not the most academic person… but then I thought, well, I do know the catering industry, so I’m going to learn as much about making cocktails and running a bar. So I started managing a bar, and then suddenly I was getting auditions,” he said.
Think you know the booze?
Let’s start with some basics.