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10 Celebrities Who Rose to Fame by Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

Millions of people around the world prepare for years to succeed in careers related to the arts, like acting, but very few of them actually manage to make a living from it, let alone become famous worldwide. What makes one fate different from the other is that in most of those cases, it’s not talent, but rather, luck doing its thing. That’s what makes luck so important — it’s unpredictable. In this case, we might as well just “be in the right place at the right time.” This was the case with Harrison Ford, who met George Lucas while working as a carpenter, or Pamela Anderson, who was caught on camera during a football game, or Charlize Theron, who caught the attention of a talent scout during a discussion with a bank employee, among others.

Bright Side compiled a list of actors who, on top of being talented, were in the right place at the right time. That’s perhaps the best combination to be launched to fame.

1. Johnny Depp

Thanks to his then-wife, Lori Anne Allison, Depp met Nicolas Cage, who encouraged him to try his luck as an actor. He attended the audition for A Nightmare on Elm Street and sparked off some very strong emotions from the director’s daughter, calling him “dreamy.” When they saw Depp, they put their trust in him without hesitation and he got his first role on the big screen: Glen Lantz, the main character’s boyfriend.

2. Rosario Dawson

Dawson was born and raised in a low-income neighborhood in New York. Call it luck, but one day they were shooting a commercial near the abandoned building where she lived. She went outside to see a member of the film crew she liked. Photographer and director Larry Clark approached her if she wanted to appear in his movie Kids. Despite being a tough-to-watch film that portrays the life of young New Yorkers dealing with vice and criminality, her family didn’t object. That first role gave rise to a star, and all of that was thanks to her smile. It’s difficult to deny that a smile goes a long way, right?

3. Danny Trejo

It is a known fact that Trejo had several problems with the authorities during his youth and that he has been in prison more than a few times. However, a lesser known fact is that during his time in San Quentin prison, Trejo developed one of his passions: boxing. While competing, he also helped young people overcome their addiction problems and thanks to this combination of the 2, he made it to the big screen. One of the boys he helped, got him to meet on the set of Runaway Train with screenwriter Edward Bunker, who remembered his talent as a boxer and offered him a position training his actors. It was during that job that the director decided to give him a supporting role in the film.

4. Steven Seagal

During his youth he received martial arts training, first in Fullerton, California, and then he went over to Japan, where he originally found work as an English teacher but also continued his martial arts training. He continued his training there and by 1985, already back in the United States, Seagal was working as a choreographer for a number of action scenes in movies. His career in film began thanks to talent agent Michael Ovitz, who had been his martial arts student for years. Ovitz introduced him to producer Andrew Davis, with whom he would eventually make his first film, Above the Law, in 1987.

5. Jason Statham

Statham grew up in Norfolk, England. During his school years he was part of the soccer team, but the sport he actually excelled in was diving. He was actually a professional diver and he even participated in major tournaments and was part of the British National Swimming Team for 12 years. Thanks to a fashion agent who saw him while he was training, Statham got into modeling. During that time, while working for different brands, he got an audition for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels by British director Guy Ritchie, who offered him the first role of his career, that of the character called Bacon. The film was a success for both Ritchie and Statham, launching them to fame.

6. Pamela Anderson

At times, all the effort in the world is worthless if you don’t have a little bit of luck, and that’s exactly what happened to Pamela Anderson. The now-actress and model was caught on camera during a football match where she was wearing a Labatt T-shirt, which caused the crowd to shout. So much so that she was brought down to the field to receive a standing ovation from the crowd. Then Labatt offered her a contract as a model and she accepted. A little while later, she posed for Playboy magazine and moved to Los Angeles to settle as a model and become a movie and TV star.

7. Harrison Ford

Ford dipped his toe in the water of acting after finishing his studies. However, things were far from being easy for him: he tried his hand at acting for a while until he decided to give it up to become a carpenter. Things turned around for him when, thanks to carpentry, he met (again) none other than George Lucas. Ford had been working all night in Francis Ford Coppola’s office when Lucas showed up. It was morning already and he was holding auditions for Star Wars there. Ford had played a small role in American Graffiti, Lucas’ second film, so the director recognized him and started talking to him. At one point Ford was called in to help them cast the auditions: he read a few lines as a practice buddy with over 100 actors and, surprise, he was then asked to audition himself. That’s how he got the part of Han Solo, and the rest is history.

8. Marilyn Monroe

Norma Jeane Baker worked at the Radio Plane munitions factory. At the end of 1944, she met photographer David Conover, who was sent by the Air Force to the factory to photograph the workers and raise their morale. Although none of her photos were used, she stopped working there in January 1945 and started modeling for Conover and his friends. Defying her husband, Norma moved out on her own and signed a contract with the Blue Book modeling agency in August of the same year. According to the agency’s owner, Norma was one of its most ambitious and hard-working models, having appeared on 33 magazine covers by early 1946. Her stage name would come in the early days of her acting career, when she and Ben Lyon, an executive from 20th Century Fox, decided that she would be Marilyn in honor of Broadway star Marilyn Miller, and Monroe, after Norma’s mother’s maiden name.

9. Mel Gibson

When Gibson went to Mad Max’s casting, he wasn’t actually auditioning, he just went to support his sister, who was the one looking to be cast. He caught everyone’s attention because the night before he had been involved in a bar fight, so he still looked a little roughed up. When he saw him like that, director George Miller thought about giving him a role as an extra and told him to come back in a few days. When they met again, Gibson looked very different and attractive, which surprised the director so much that he offered him the lead role in Mad Max, thus making his sudden jump to world fame.

10. Charlize Theron

Born in South Africa, she moved to the United States to become a classical dancer. However, luck played a nasty trick on her, as she broke her knee shortly after arriving in the country. One day she went to a bank located on Hollywood Boulevard to cash a check that her mother had sent her so that she could pay the rent, and the teller refused to give her the money. While Theron was having a heated argument with the employee, John Crosby was standing behind her. He was a talent agent who, after the altercation, handed her his card.

After a long time of unsuccessful castings and playing supporting roles, Theron established a solid reputation on the big screen with her performance in The Devil’s Advocate, a film she starred in with Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves, which was a box office success.

Do you know of any other celebrities who have made it to the top thanks to a stroke of luck? What was the most significant coincidence in your life?

Preview photo credit Mad Max / Crossroads