It’s hard not to think about the celebrity world without feeling a tinge of envy. From glamorous parties to massive mansions, it seems that every part of stars’ lifestyles is custom-made for comfort. But some famous faces haven’t always enjoyed such an easy life. In fact, many of our favorite celebs spent years enduring poverty, starvation and even homelessness before making their big breaks. And the times these 20 stars spent without roofs over their heads have surely made them appreciate success that much more.
20. Chris Pratt
After leaving home aged 19, future Passengers star Chris Pratt wound up living out of a van in Hawaii. And while he found the experience “charming” – as he labeled it during a 2014 chat with The Independent – the actor eventually settled down upon gaining his first film role in 2000.
19. Drew Carey
Like many teenagers, Drew Carey experienced a painful adolescence. And following a failed suicide attempt aged 18, the Price is Right host hitched a ride to Las Vegas where he lived rough and sold blood to survive. Thankfully, though, a stint in the U.S. Marines led him to stand-up comedy and the successful career he now enjoys.
18. Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig has undeniably earned his superstar lifestyle and estimated $95 million fortune the hard way. In the infancy of his career, in fact, Craig subsisted by waiting tables and, apparently, occasionally sleeping on park benches when he couldn’t afford the rent. Certainly, that’s a stark contrast to the glamorous life of his on-screen alter ego James Bond.
17. Halle Berry
Many struggling actors can rely on their parents for financial support, but Halle Berry didn’t have that luxury. And while living in Chicago aged 21, the Oscar winner moved into a homeless shelter when her mother refused to send her rent money. Soon after, though, she relocated to New York City, where she kick-started her career with Jungle Fever in 1991.
16. Steve Harvey
While starting his comedy career in the late ’80s, Steve Harvey spent years without work. And when crippled by child support payments, the Family Feud host even had to resort to living in his car for three agonizing years. “It was rock bottom,” the star explained to People magazine in 2013. He’s now worth an incredible $100 million.
15. Michael Oher
As depicted in 2009’s The Blind Side, Michael Oher’s life is one of courage and perseverance. After spending his early years moving between foster homes, the then 16-year-old NFL star was rescued from the streets by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy. And that kind gesture turned his life around: with the Tuohys’ guidance, Oher developed an interest in football and eventually joined the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.
Following an unwanted sexual advance from her boss, singer Jewel found herself fired and living out of her car in the mid-’90s. Luckily, the “Hands” singer’s situation only lasted a year, as her 1995 debut Pieces of You would go 12 times platinum shortly afterwards.
13. Jennifer Lopez
It seems crazy now, but J.Lo’s mother disapproved of her daughter’s dreams of stardom. In fact, the two butted heads so much that at age 18 the singer left home and resorted to sleeping at her dance studio. One year later, however, Lopez was cast on In Living Color, and the rest – as they say – is history.
12. Tyler Perry
Thanks to his hit movies featuring character Madea, Tyler Perry is one of Hollywood’s most bankable directors. However, his work hasn’t always been financially successful. His first self-financed play, for one, was such a dud that he was left without money or a home. Nevertheless, the filmmaker continued his craft and today can lay claim to an astonishing $400 million fortune.
11. Hillary Swank
Upon moving with her mother to LA aged 16, Hillary Swank risked everything to jump-start her acting career. And with no money for rent, the two even slept out of a car before finding accommodation in a friend’s vacant house. Ultimately, however, Swank’s gamble paid off; ten years later she would win an Oscar for 2000’s Boys Don’t Cry.
10. Kelly Clarkson
Before winning big on American Idol in 2002, Kelly Clarkson tried to launch her singing career the old-fashioned way. But while gigging in Los Angeles Clarkson’s apartment caught ablaze, leaving the star without a place to stay. Homeless and unhappy, she went back to her native Texas – where she made her life-changing Idol audition.
9. Rose McGowan
Few childhood tales are as traumatizing as that of Charmed star Rose McGowan’s early life. After being sent to rehab aged just 13, the actress ran away and slept under a derelict house. And here, she caught infections and even witnessed a friend’s rape. “Being a teenager was great,” she sarcastically told Dazed magazine in 2000.
8. Martin Sheen
He may be one of America’s most respected actors today, but Martin Sheen spent years struggling to support his craft. In fact, the West Wing star went so far as to sleep in New York City subway carriages while waiting for his break to come. “It never occurred to me that acting was not [a] way to go,” he defiantly told Parade in 2000.
7. Sam Worthington
Although homelessness is a situation few people ask for, Sam Worthington actually decided on a life under the stars. Indeed, while bored with his lifestyle, the actor sold his house and possessions before moving into his car. Just two weeks later, though, the star was cast in James Cameron’s $2.7 billion-grossing hit Avatar.
6. James Cameron
Like Avatar star Sam Worthington, filmmaker James Cameron knows too well what it feels like to live rough. While writing his breakthrough hit The Terminator, for example, Cameron slept in his car and lived off two-for-one Big Mac coupons. Certainly, it’s an inauspicious start for a director now worth an estimated $700 million.
5. Shania Twain
Though she may now be one of pop music’s biggest artists, Shania Twain began life in impoverished surroundings. At her mother’s insistence, the future Grammy winner even spent a night in a homeless shelter aged six to escape her abusive father. And to raise money for her family, Twain began singing in bars before she’d even reached ten – an experience that undoubtedly influenced her musical career.
4. Selma Blair
Like many struggling actors, Selma Blair spent her early career in squalor, often sleeping at a Salvation Army shelter. Yet though her conditions were rough, the Cruel Intentions star wasn’t exactly strapped for cash. As she confessed to E! in 2011, she used what little money she had for designer outfits rather than rent.
3. Dr. Phil
As one of America’s best-loved talk show hosts, Dr. Phil McGraw is adept at handing out hard-hitting life lessons. Fittingly, then, the TV personality has weathered hard knocks, himself having spent part of his childhood in YMCA shelters. “When you grow up poor you are very results-oriented,” he told ABC News in 2011.
2. Lil’ Kim
Many rappers have surmounted great obstacles on their way to success, and Lil’ Kim is no exception. During her childhood, the “Lady Marmalade” star slept in her mother’s car after the two ran from her abusive father. Still, given that her wealth is now estimated at $18 million, it’s unlikely that Kim has ever had to revisit those arrangements.
1. Jim Carrey
After his father lost his job, the then 12-year-old Jim Carrey was forced to move into a van. And if that wasn’t enough hardship to deal with, the hyperactive star had to leave school aged just 15, going on to work as a janitor to help support his family. Luckily, Carrey educated himself in the comedy clubs of Toronto, informing his subsequent $150 million career.