TV Stars Before They Were Famous
THAT SCIENCE DUDE
Though he's a star now, That '70s Show's Ashton Kutcher (right, in New York City in May) "could be happy no matter what I'm doing," he told InStyle in February. In fact, the Iowa native (left, in 1992) studied to become a biochemical engineer before he left college to pursue modeling in 1997.
By the age of 8, Sex and the City's Sarah Jessica Parker (right, at a New York fashion event in June) was a working actress. Four years later, despite her stepfather's warnings that she wasn't up to snuff, she told Barbara Walters in March 2002, the determined teen (left, at a 1979 movie premiere) became a Broadway star in Annie.
As an aspiring comedian, Everybody Loves Raymond's Ray Romano (right, at the SAG Awards in March) took on many odd jobs, including working as a bank teller, to keep his pre-Raymond stand-up career afloat. Romano (left, in his 1975 high school senior picture) "just kept trying," he told Time for Kids in March 2002.
Growing up, American Idol judge Paula Abdul's parents couldn't afford her ballet lessons. So a persevering Abdul (left, in her 1980 senior year high school photo) paid for them "by cleaning up in the classrooms (at school)," she told PEOPLE in May. They certainly paid off for the future Laker Girl and pop singer (right, in Miami Beach in June).
NYPD Blue star Mark-Paul Gosselaar (right, in New York City in May) first found fame on '80s sitcom Saved by the Bell. Yet Gosselaar (left, in an eighth grade photo) admits transitioning from child star to adult actor has its challenges: "Hopefully people will forget while they're watching the show that I was the other character," he told Zap2it.com in 2001.
HE'S GOT GAME
Friends star Matthew Perry (right, in London in April) once had hoop dreams: Perry (left, in a 1986 high school photo) was a top-ranked junior tennis player in his Ottawa-area hometown until moving to L.A. in 1984. "Sweating, running for shots, this is a world I love to be in," he told PEOPLE in September 2002.
Adding an apostrophe to her name might have helped get The Parkers star Mo'Nique (right, in 2002) attention, but "my mother had a problem with it ... until she saw the first paycheck," the actress (left, in her 1985 high school photo) told Entertainment Weekly in May.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler (right, in New York City in April) was 17 when she was cast as Meadow on the smash HBO series The Sopranos. But Sigler (left, on a family vacation in 1989) was not new to performing: She had been dancing since age 3 and by 9 was appearing in musical theater productions in her native Jericho, N.Y., PEOPLE noted in April 2001.
Though she's the epitome of cool now, that wasn't always true for Alias's Jennifer Garner (right, at the MTV Movie Awards in May). "I played saxophone in the (marching) band. I think it was a source of ridicule, but it didn't bother me," the actress (left, in her high school senior year photo in 1990) told Teen People in March.
SHAKE IT UP
Long before playing Mob boss Tony on the hit HBO series The Sopranos, James Gandolfini (right, at a New York City benefit in April; left, in his 1979 senior year high school photo) shook things up by making drinks. "Jim was an amazing bartender," Andrew Silverman, owner of New York restaurant Steak Frites, told InStyle. "He had such a great following."
Jennifer Aniston (right, in L.A. in May) served countless diners and appeared on several failed series before finding Friends in 1994. "There was a part of me that felt like, 'If I'm a waitress for the rest of my life, then I'll be a waitress,' " the actress (left, in her 1987 senior year high school photo) told PEOPLE in December 2002.
Though he plays buttoned-down Niles Crane on TV's Frasier, David Hyde Pierce (right, in Hollywood in June; left, in his 1977 senior year high school photo) once labored as a security guard and tie salesman while trying to make it as an actor, the Ottawa Citizen noted in December 2002.