Although we know in our hearts and minds that celebrities wore all born as mortal as everyone else, it's easy to forget when you see them in all their glory, prancing across a stage in a spotlight or larger than life on the silver screen. We forget they all went through potty training, had first kisses, suffered broken hearts, dented the family car, and yes, made career choices.
Many of us had grandiose aspirations as kids and young adults: supermodel, astronaut, rock idol, bestselling author, movie star, a politician bringing peace to the world. Alas, countless among us fell short of those dreams and (hopefully) found alternate career paths that were almost as fulfilling.
There are many celebrities that had a singular vision of their fame and fortune and through hard work, luck and perseverance ultimately reached their goals. However, many of them were grounded and wise enough to have a Plan B to pursue if things didn't work out with their first choice. And since stardom can be a fickle friend, who knows, maybe you'll find them in their second-choice careers down the road.
These celebrities' alternate career choices range from predictable to whoa, what were they thinking! No matter what they wanted to become if stardom eluded them, knowing they weren't all so star struck they never considered alternatives adds a touch of humility and relatability to their profiles. As their lives evolve, watch to see if any of them follow their alternate dreams.
15 Ashton Kutcher
Ever since his early days on That '70s Show, Kutcher has impressed millions as the male version of America's sweetheart. Even his May-December marriage to Demi Moore didn't tarnish his image as a good guy with fans of all ages. He proved his acting chops in a string of movies and went on to join Two and a Half Men when Charlie Sheen left, taking the show to its end after a long and successful run. Kutcher is also a thriving venture capitalist with investments in such booming ventures as Skype, Foursquare and Airbnb. But Kutcher's original plan was to secure a degree in biomedical engineering to help find a cure for his twin brother's heart disease.His brother needed a heart transplant as a child and also suffers from cerebral palsy. Quite an aspiration for the guy who co-starred in Dude, Where's My Car?
14 Natalie Portman
After gaining critical acclaim in several Star Wars movies and over 35 other films including hits like Cold Mountain and The Other Boleyn Girl, Portman won her first Oscar for her portrayal of a psychologically troubled ballerina in Black Swan. Although she started modeling and performing at the tender age of 4, Portman never intended to rely on her beauty and acting prowess to support her throughout her life. In 1999 she enrolled at Harvard and earned her bachelor's degree in psychology in 2002, concurrent with acting in many diverse domestic and international films. Portman claims she still plans to use her degree to practice psychology one day. After playing so many dissimilar roles that delved into a slew of altered and fragmented states of mind, Portman would likely be a good candidate to help people understand and cope with psychological challenges.
13 Brad Pitt
When the outrageously handsome Brad Pitt played a cowboy hitchhiker in the box office smash Thelma & Louise, women from coast to coast took to the highways to try their luck at finding a similar gem on a roadside in need of a ride. This breakout role led to leads in a string of film successes in the next three years including A River Runs Through It, Kalifornia, True Romance, Interview with the Vampire, and Legends of the Fall. But Pitt has consistently followed his second infatuation with architecture while he continues to build his film career. He was a key player in Design e2, a PBS television series focused on global endeavors to build environmentally friendly structures through sustainable architecture and design. He also originated the Make It Right Foundation, which was instrumental in funding and building sustainable, affordable houses in New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
12 Kerry Washington
Best known today as the indefatigable Olivia Pope on the ABC hit Scandal, Kerry Washington's breakout role was in 2002 when she played played Chris Rock's love interest in the spy thriller Bad Company after a string of commercials and roles in some minor TV shows. But the road to acting was not the only career path Washington considered. In a 2013 interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, she said, “I had this dream as a child. What I really wanted to be when I grew up was the woman in the Shamu show with the killer whale at Sea World. I studied really hard, I got into marine biology… and then I got to AP [Advanced Placement] bio in high school, and I was like, ‘Forget the whale, I’ll be on stage by myself.’” However, If Washington ever tires of the acting spotlight, she can always fall back on the double major degree she received in anthropology and sociology from George Washington University where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1998.
11 Denzel Washington
Watching Denzel Washington in so many powerful and diverse roles on film, stage and TV, it's hard to believe he hasn't been perfecting his craft since childhood. But before his big career break came starring as Dr. Phillip Chandler in NBC's hit TV hospital drama St. Elsewhere from 1982 to 1988, in 1977 he earned a B.A. degree in Drama and Journalism from Fordham University. Washington soon went back to Fordham, studied acting at the Lincoln Center campus, and earned title roles in Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones and Shakespeare's Othello. He then continued to graduate school at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, then returned to New York to launch his professional acting career. When and if he retires from acting, maybe we'll see his byline on some serious journalistic pieces or perhaps a bestselling book is on the horizon.
10 Jennifer Aniston
When your mom and dad are accomplished actors, people assume you can just walk into a film or TV career without paying your dues. But Jennifer Aniston did it the old-fashioned way and worked as a telemarketer, waitress, and bike messenger to support herself in her early acting career. After years of hawking such products such as NutriSystem and appearing in off-Broadway plays and several failed TV comedies, Aniston hit the jackpot with her role of Rachel on the decade-long smash comedy Friends. A successful film career followed. But if things hadn't turned out so well, Aniston told Rachael Ray in a 2011 interview she'd be a party planner. With her apparent warmth and positive outlook, chances are she'd be successful in any endeavor but who wouldn't want Aniston to plan a party for them after she's attended some of the most lavish and extravagant celebrations in the world for the past 20 years?
9 Joe Jonas
Joe Jonas was only sweet 16 when he and two of his brothers, Kevin and Nick, broke onto the prepubescent music scene. After a string of pop music hits and world tours, The Jonas Brothers went their separate ways a few years later and brother Joe dabbled in a variety of film, TV and music projects, avenues he still travels today. Even at the young age of 26, Jonas has ideas on what he'd like to do next: open his own restaurant. Unlike many stars who go this route without a clue, he's reportedly an accomplished cook in his own right and if he puts his name as well as his talent into the project, Jonas may well have a second successful career where the odds of success are as slim as being in a wildly successful teenage boy band. Seems like the exciting Las Vegas restaurant scene would be the perfect place to start.
8 Kim Kardashian
It's nearly possible to imagine Kim Kardashian as anything other than the enigma she is today. But Kardashian had goals before her family's breakout reality series inexplicably took the world by storm. Instead of following in daddy's footsteps and becoming a lawyer, Kardashian decided to make her living as a stylist, a wise choice since cutting edge fashion had been her passion since she was a young teenager. She was well on her way when she got a job as a personal stylist for Brandy Norwood. Then fate stepped in when Norwood introduced Kardashian to her brother Ray-J, who was also somewhat of a trendsetter. Oh, and he had a video camera. Had Kardashian not made that (in)famous film, today she might be pulling a paycheck as a stylist to the stars. But probably not if she eventually crossed paths with Kanye along the way.
7 Ryan Reynolds
After starring in several successful TV sitcoms and landing dramatic roles in a variety of television and cable series, Ryan Reynolds broke into movies, eventually starring in over 20 films. He's played everything from superheroes to bad and adorable boyfriends, showing his prowess in both comedies and dramas. His rugged handsomeness has garnered him spots on 3 sexiest men/most beautiful people People magazine lists and he was named People's Sexiest Man Alive in 2010 and chosen as their Sexiest Dad Alive in 2016. Known for his self-deprecating attitude and well-honed sense of humor, his stardom seems to continually rise. Reynolds once divulged that if he hadn't pursued his acting career, he would have probably followed in his one of his brother's footsteps and become a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman. He'd probably kill that role as well and look great doing it. And his nice guy persona would make him perfect for the job.
6 Eva Longoria
Best known for her 10-year role as Gabrielle Solis on the quirky comedy-drama Desperate Housewives, Eva Longoria received her Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology, the study of human movement, from Texas A&M. During her college days, she won the title of Miss Corpus Christi USA in 1998. After she graduated college and won a talent competition that required moving to L.A., Longoria pursued an acting career which began with a spot on Beverly Hills 90210, followed by roles on soaps General Hospital and The Young and the Restless, the latter of which lasted two years. Her career continues to thrive but if she ever needs a change, she can hang out a shingle as a physical therapist or return to being a headhunter, which she worked as to support herself in L.A. while looking for acting jobs. Either would surely be a waste of Longoria's beauty and talent.
5 Tony Danza
Best known for starring in the legendary sitcoms Taxi and Who's The Boss?, Tony Danza had a short but successful career as a professional boxer before becoming a TV star. After graduating college with a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Dubuque, Danza was "discovered" in a New York boxing gym by a producer and cast in Taxi. However, he's always wanted to be a teacher and even starred in a 2011 A&E reality show Teach: Tony Danza, where he co-taught a sophomore English class at Northeast High School in Philadelphia. He also wrote a book based on this experience called I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High. Danza is also an ordained Universal Life Church minister. With all this background, Danza could easily transition to careers in teaching, writing or marrying people…or maybe all three.
4 Selena Gomez
Though it's doubtful pop star Selena Gomez will have to fall back on a second career, she once said in a 2013 interview with Flaunt magazine that she would have ended up working at Cracker Barrel restaurant had her mom not relocated them to Los Angeles from Grand Prairie, Texas to boost her daughter's career when she was young. But in her 23 short years, Gomez has already proved she has many talents. Starting out on Barney and Friends in 2002, Gomez appeared in many acclaimed Disney productions before starting a band and she's now a successful singer with many top Billboard hits that keep on coming. She's also an up and coming actress, appearing in movies in both dramatic and comedic roles. And if those things don't pan out, Gomez launched a fashion line in 2010. Don't expect to see her slinging hash at Cracker Barrel anytime soon.
3 Matthew McConaughey
Ever since his first memorable role in the unforgettable comedy Dazed and Confused, Matthew McConaughey has been on the fast track to movie stardom. He's equally captivating in comedies and dramas and his good looks, swagger, immense talent, humility and sense of humor have made him a beloved actor of both women and men of all ages. But acting wasn't always McConaughey's career goal. He earned a bachelor's degree in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Texas at Austin College of Communication in 1993. McConaughey originally planned to attend law school after his college graduation but suddenly lost interest in that career, deciding law was not his calling after all. He was soon bit by the acting bug after starring in a local commercial for an Austin, Texas daily newspaper, which made him a local star. It would still be fun to see him practicing law using his famous tagline, "Alright, alright, alright!" in closing arguments.
2 Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie continues to be one of the most intriguing Hollywood stars after breaking out in the acclaimed HBO movie Gia in 1998. Her career in movies has often been overshadowed by her personal life with husband Brad Pitt. Known for her slightly dark and mysterious views on life, Jolie once fantasized about launching her own funeral home. She once revealed in a TV interview, “If this whole acting thing didn't work out that was going to be my path. It sounds like this very strange, eccentric, dark thing to do but, in fact, I lost my grandfather and was very upset with his funeral. I thought I could do better, so I got a home course when I was about 14. I did a mail-order degree.” It's unlikely Jolie will ever fall back on her second career choice but her creativity and outlook could change the face of traditional funeral fare.
1 Tom Cruise
Ever since Tom Cruise appeared in the 1981 film Endless Love, his rugged good looks, charming demeanor and acting talent have landed him starring roles in over a dozen blockbuster hits. His first taste of being in the spotlight was in 4th grade when he and a group of 6 other boys improvised a play set to music for his elementary school drama festival and got rave reviews. But before he chose to follow a path to acting, Cruise had a short stint at a Franciscan seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. His enrollment was paid for by a church scholarship and he briefly aspired to become a Catholic priest. Although that didn't work out, Cruise is arguably the world's most famous and outspoken member of the Church of Scientology, a group that would surely welcome him in a more major role if his acting career goes south.