13 Famous Actors and Actresses That Had to Fight for Their Success

The path to fame is never easy. The ability to deal with failure and not lose faith in yourself are very important qualities in any profession, and acting is not an exception. Even famous and Oscar-winning Hollywood stars had to deal with a lot of rejections at the beginning of their careers and they often saw doors close right in front of them.

We at Bright Side think that these stories are examples of not giving up when chasing your dream.

Carey Mulligan

Carey Mulligan got rejected in all theater schools she applied for. And she later called the audition for the Drama Centre London “torture”. Her representatives recommended that she try to be an anchor on a child show. The future actress was shocked by a rejection.

Now, she is a BAFTA winner for Best Actress in a Leading Role in An Education, and Critics Choice Award for Promising Young Woman. Many people know Carey Mulligan thanks to the role of Daisy in The Great Gatsby.

Lisa Kudrow

Before the success of Friends, Lisa Kudrow was fired from the sitcom Frasier on the third day of rehearsing the pilot. The creators decided to replace her with another actress. Even though Lisa admits that she was really sad, she found the strength to move on.

Several years later, Lisa got an Emmy award as the supporting actress in Friends. Aside from that, Kudrow and her colleagues became the highest-paid TV actors and actresses at the time, making a million dollars for each episode of the 9th and 10th seasons.

Jack Nicholson

In order to be closer to the world of cinema, 20-year-old Jack Nicholson got an assistant job at the animation department at MGM and later started taking classes in acting and speech. At the end of the 50s, he started getting roles in movies but he wasn’t really successful.

Nicholson became famous after the iconic Easy Rider was released and he was already more than 30 years old. This was the breakthrough moment for him.

Hilary Swank

Before she got her first big role, Hilary Swank did small episodes. At the beginning of her career, she portrayed a single mom in Beverly Hills, 90210. But instead of the 2 years she was promised, her character was cut out after 16 episodes. Swank later said that she was devastated thinking that if she wasn’t good enough for Beverly Hills, 90210, she wouldn’t be able to achieve anything at all.

But the following year, the actress got the main role in Boys Don’t Cry which won her an Oscar. And 5 years later, she got her second Oscar for Million Dollar Baby.

Naomi Watts

After a series of roles in movies and TV series in Australia, the actress decided to try her luck in LA. But her first roles in Hollywood didn’t make her popular. Naomi said that she had so little money that she couldn’t even pay for her rent or her medical insurance.

But the worst part was that she got rejected so often that she started thinking she wasn’t any good. So, during auditions, she was often too tense, too giggly, and made people uncomfortable. Mulholland Drive was her breakthrough moment that got her first awards and many job offers.

Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins decided to become an actor at the age of 15 but he became truly popular only after he was 50. He played at the theater in England. In the 1970s, he decided to move to Hollywood but he appeared mostly on TV there. He was discouraged and returned back home thinking that this chapter of his life was closed forever.

And then he was offered the part of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. The director needed a monster and he chose Hopkins. In 1992, he won his first Oscar for the part.

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kailing became famous after the role of Kelly Kapoor in The Office. She was also a writer, executive producer, and director of the show. Mindy, her colleagues, and producers were nominated for Emmy for best comedy show 6 times in a row.

In an interview, the actress once told how she was fired from a sitcom where the producers wanted her to play herself. The reason was that she didn’t seem funny or attractive enough for the show to be centered around her.

Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet took part in amateur plays in school and local theaters when she was young. But her path to glory wasn’t easy. Kate says she suffered from extra weight and her classmates called her fat and made fun of her appearance. And her acting experience only made the unwanted attention stronger. She was often rejected because of her extra weight.

In 1992, she portrayed the part of an overweight woman’s daughter in Anglo Saxon Attitudes. During the shooting, the director said that Kate looked very similar to the actress that portrayed her mother, making the future star lose weight. Her breakthrough role was in Heavenly Creatures and she became famous worldwide after her role as Rose in Titanic.

Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire is the greatest dancer in movie history. But he became famous quite late. Despite all the early dancing successes, a career in the film industry kept slipping away. He did a lot of auditions but he wasn’t able to make producers interested. A studio executive wrote at the time, “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little.

When he was older than 30, he tried his luck in Hollywood one last time and he got lucky. He got a small part that opened the doors for new opportunities. Fred was paired with Ginger Rogers and their dance in Flying Down to Rio stole the entire film.

Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley was born in a family of actors and she appeared in a movie at a very young age. But she became really famous after the part in Pirates of the Caribbean. But even though she was famous, she got rejected many times. She even said in an interview that she wouldn’t recommend her daughter to become an actress because the number of rejections she got was devastating.

“And it doesn’t matter what kind of person you are, it’s impossible for that not to take a toll. Even if you’re successful, you still have to go through a load of rejection.”

Kerry Washington

Before she got the main role in Scandal, Kerry Washington was fired from 2 other shows. The pilots that were with her in them were changed. According to the actress, in both cases, casting directors wanted her to be more stereotypical and she wasn’t okay with that.

Later, she was nominated for an Emmy for Best Actress and a Golden Globe, she appeared in big-budget movies and worked with Quentin Tarantino.

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Throughout her acting career, Maggie Gyllenhaal often had to deal with negative opinions about her appearance. This is why she wasn’t given certain roles, for example, romantic ones. She got the first recognition and her first award for the part in Secretary. But she is still disappointed by many things in Hollywood.

She was 37 when she was told she was too old to portray the love interest of a 55-year-old man. In 2021, Maggie debuted as a director. Her film The Lost Daughter got the award for the best script at the Venice Film Festival.

Reese Witherspoon

Actress and producer Reese Witherspoon, whose career is at its peak right now, said that she was often ignored at the beginning of her career and she heard a lot of "No"s. She was often told she was the second choice for the part. So she was always worse than some other actress. But she kept on trying and never let such things get to her.

Which quality do you think is the most important for an actor?

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