The thing that really stinks about being an actor is that the people in charge of movies don't let you be a star right away. (Even if you ask the director real nicely and tell them how good-looking and talented you are.) Hollywood prefers its actors to work their way up, which can mean starting at the very, very, very bottom of the ladder: being an extra. Here are some famous people who took this path and really did become stars of other movies later on.
1. Brad Pitt, No Way Out.
While your mom was getting her hunk on in 1987 with the latest Kevin Costner thriller, future hunk Brad Pitt was lurking in the background, keenly sticking himself into the world's subconscious. (Did it work? Well, four years later, he'd get his first major speaking role in Thelma & Louise.)
2. Renee Zellweger, Dazed and Confused.
Zellwegger auditioned for one of the main high school student roles in Richard Linklater's movie, which was filmed in Texas. She didn't get it, but the crew liked her enough to cast her in the non-speaking role of "Nesi White"—a character never named or listed in the credits. As part of the posse of mean girls, Zellweger is visible in two scenes: setting up a beer bong for Parker Posey's character at the Moon Tower party, and hazing freshmen.
3. Alexis Bledel, Rushmore.
A couple of years before she got her big break as Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, Bledel's first part was as a high school student in Wes Anderson's second movie, which was filmed in Bledel's hometown of Houston.
4. Bruce Willis, The Verdict.
When Paul Newman gives his final big speech in this Oscar-nominated courtroom drama from 1982, a dude with a mullet looks on respectfully from the third row of the gallery, deeply moved. That man is future Hudson Hawk star Bruce Willis.
5. Charlize Theron, Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest.
She doesn't speak in this weird supernatural horror movie from 1995, but the camera lingers on her for a couple of seconds because she looks like Charlize Theron.
6. Doug Benson, Blade Runner.
He's talked about it on his Doug Loves Movies podcast multiple times, but when this comedian/marijuana enthusiast was just out of high school, he loved movies so much that he moved to L.A. and found work as an extra. He's a dancer in Disneyland's Michael Jackson Captain Eo movie, and he plays a futuristic soldier type guy in Blade Runner.
7. Ron Jeremy, Ghostbusters.
Did you know that there was another movie about Ghostbusters back in 1984 before the new one, and that it was also called Ghostbusters? It follows a similar plot, in which Ghostbusters bust ghosts. At a pivotal point in the movie, some of the ghosts don't get busted and get loose, and the people of the New York get scared, because ghosts are scary. One of those people is porn legend Ron Jeremy.
8. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Breakin'.
Before there was eternal punchline movie Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, there was Breakin', the first entry in the breakdance movie saga. Spoiler: There's a lot of breakdancing in Breakin'. Another spoiler: future martial arts movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme is in Breakin', and gosh does he love it.