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Six celebrities who had office jobs before they became famous

4 min read

03 November 2015

Whether it was selling products they had little affection for or running errands for superiors, office jobs were the beginning for many a successful entertainer – and we selected six of the best.

Everyone, even the most successful in any profession, has to pay the rent and eat while they’re pursing their dream – or simply working out what they want to do with their lives. For well-known figures it’s no different. In fact, some have had suffer office jobs that most people would regard as soul destroying – or should that be character building?

Gerard Butler, star of 300, The Ugly Truth and Playing for Keeps studied law at Glasgow University and even became president of the University Law Society. He got a job as a trainee at an Edinburgh law firm, but his lifestyle of parties and extra-curricular activities meant that he and his employer parted company soon after. Butler then moved to London to pursue his acting career.

Before his music career took off Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis and leading light of the post-punk music scene had job as a civil servant for the Manpower Services Commission, first in Manchester and later in Macclesfield. His work involved placing people in the right jobs, although he himself found his real calling later in life.

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Johnny Depp, best known for Edward Scissorhands and Transcedence, among other films, spent some time in an office as a telemarketer selling pens. He later said of his experience: “You put on your best fake voice and try and sell them a gross or two of ballpoint pens with their name printed on them…you say, ‘Congratulations, you have just become eligible to win a grandfather clock’…it was just awful.”

Shortly after she moved from New York to Los Angeles to seek fame and fortune, star of Friends and The Bounty Hunter Jennifer Aniston got a job in telemarketing. She lasted just two weeks. “I was awful, selling timeshares in the Poconos and upsetting people terribly and me just being the worst at it, because I just apologised profusely and hung up the phone,” she later said about her time in an office.

Simon Cowell started at the bottom of the music industry. His dad got him a job as post boy at the offices of EMI records. The X Factor Svengali, who is thought to be worth around £300m, wrote in his biography: “From my first day on the job I began planning and scheming my way to the top of the business.” And on that pledge, the former post room boy certainly delivered.

JK Rowling was a secretary at the London office of Amnesty International among other places, but she found the daily grind of typing up reports and booking meetings boring and uninspiring. She did, however, discover one advantage of working in office. “All I ever liked about offices was being able to type up stories on the computer when no one was looking,” she later said.

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