40 Actors Who Were About To Give Up When They Found Their Big Break

When you see stars on the big screen, loved across the world and earning money of which we can only dream, it’s easy to forget that they weren’t always successful. In fact, the road to celebrity almost never runs smooth, and many of them know how it feels to be totally broke, rejected, and close to giving up on their dreams. For some of the industry’s most famous actors, things were so bleak that they almost quit the business entirely — if it hadn’t been for one last-minute change of fortune.

1. Matt LeBlanc

Even if you’ve lived in a cave all your life you’ve probably heard of Friends! In 2019 Matt LeBlanc, who famously played Joey, told Conan O’Brien that his bank account had been down to the wire before he got the multi-million-dollar role. “I had, I think, I was down to $11. That's holding out too long because even if I'd said at that point, I'm gonna go get a waiter job, by the time that $11 ran out, it would've been before the first paycheck [and] I would've starved.”

2. Steve Harvey

Would you believe times were tough for Steve Harvey at one time? He didn’t even have enough money to make it to his audition for It's Showtime at the Apollo. In 2017 he elaborated on Oprah’s Master Class. “My heart sunk because, now how do I get to New York? I've got $35, man… The one time I could finally get on TV, and I can't even get to the gig. ...I don't have no money. I can't eat. I don't have a place to stay. This is horrible, man.” A last-minute stand-up gig netted him enough money to travel though, and you know by now he got the Apollo gig. 

3. Jon Hamm

In 2018 the famous Mad Men star Jon Hamm told ABC News that he’d set himself a career deadline. He explained, “If I’m 30 and I’m still waiting tables, it’s time to move on to something else. I remember I turned 30 on the set of We Were Soldiers.I was totally thrilled. I had a bunch of my old friends fly down to come see me. And I was like, I’m making a living as an actor and I did it. I made it under the wire.”

4. Chrissy Metz

After Chrissy Metz landed a role in American Horror Story the well of roles ran so dry that she almost gave in. She told Glamor in 2017 that she “almost moved back to L.A.” She continued, “I kept auditioning, with no savings and no money, credit-card debt gaining interest. I went on unemployment. I bought ramen noodles at dollar stores. I never had to — God forbid — live on the streets; I moved in with a roommate... but when I booked This Is Us, I had 81 cents in my bank account. I could cry right now just thinking about it.”