Celebs Reveal Exactly How Much Money They Had Before Their Big Break
Annie Murphy: $3
The Schitt's Creek star told Kelly Clarkson she had just $3 in her bank account before landing her breakout role as Alexis Rose on the comedy (which just aired its season finale Tuesday).
“Just before Schitt’s Creek, things were quite bleak,” she said. “My house had just burnt down, I had like, $3 in my bank account, I hadn’t worked in close to two years ...
I found myself crying in the Pacific Ocean, a very snotty cry, and the universe was like, ‘Don’t do this anymore. This is not for you!' But then, two days later, I got the audition for Schitt’s Creek."
DWAYNE JOHNSON: $7
The actor and wrestler was named Forbes' highest paid actor in 2016 thanks to his roles in the blockbuster Fast and Furious movies and the action-packed San Andreas. But Johnson had just $7 to his name when he began his career, starting out as a WWE wrestler before appearing on the big screen. In a tribute to the modest cash he had in his pocket when he started his career, Johnson has a company called Seven Bucks Productions.
CHRISSY METZ: 81 CENTS
In a piece for Glamour, the This Is Us actress confessed to being broke just two years ago while trying to make it in Hollywood. Despite landing a small role on American Horror Story: Freak Show, she was still having trouble finding jobs. However, her mother encouraged her to stay in Los Angeles and pursue her dreams. "I kept auditioning, with no savings and no money, credit card debt gaining interest," she said. "I went on unemployment. I bought ramen noodles at dollar stores. I never had to — God forbid — live on the streets; I moved in with a roommate who told me, "Stay with me until you can afford rent. Don’t give up.'"
Metz continued: "I am so grateful that I had such an amazing support system, but when I booked This Is Us, I had 81 cents in my bank account. I could cry right now just thinking about it."
TARAJI. P HENSON: $700
Like the fierce Cookie Lyon she plays on Fox's hit drama Empire, Henson knows what it's like to start with nothing. "People thought I was crazy," the actress told PEOPLE of deciding to leave her lucrative job back home in Washington, D.C. to take a shot at making it big in Hollywood. Henson had graduated from Howard University and was working as a supervisor on a five-star dining cruise when she packed up her son Marcel, now in his 20s, and moved to California at the age of 26. "My dad knew that acting was my calling," added Henson. "One day, he looked at me and said, 'How do you expect to catch fish on dry land?' So I moved out here with my son with $700 in our pocket."
MATT LEBLANC: $11
"Friends, when it came my way, was my fourth TV series — and the other three had failed. I had exactly $11 in my pocket the day I was hired," LeBlanc revealed in a 2011 interview. "I had to go back and read for the part of Joey a total of six times. It was far from certain I would get the role."
CHRIS PRATT: $700
Pratt was living in his van (with a roommate, no less) in Hawaii when he landed his first acting job in 2000's Cursed Part 3. He was paid $700 for his performance, the action star told host Ellen DeGeneres. "That $700 lasted me one year," he said. His break came shortly after when he scored a recurring role in Everwood.
ANDIE MACDOWELL: $2,000
As a college student, MacDowell was spotted by a modeling scout, and she headed for New York City. "I had $2,000 and didn't know anyone or anything," MacDowell told PEOPLE, adding that her modeling resume included working with Calvin Klein and L'Oréal Paris. Despite the big names, she set her sights on an acting career. "At that time it was shunned to try to do both," she shared. The gambit paid off with roles in Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Green Card.