ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

Sure, everyone knows that Michael J. Fox got his break on Family Ties, Ron Howard started out on Happy Days, and that kid who played Urkel was...on Urkel.

But what about the megastars? The super-celebrities? The guys and gals that set paparazzi abuzz wherever they go? They must have started out somewhere too, right?

Oh, you better believe it.

As it turns out, those tabloid stories are nothing compared to the real life shows that gave some of the biggest names out there their start.

And we don't mean brief, embarrassing cameos, here. We're talking full blown starring roles. Occasionally with nude bath scenes.

First up...

Jennifer Lawrence Was a Teen Sitcom Star...on Cable TV

Yup, that Jennifer Lawrence. Most of us probably first remember her from her breakout movie role in 2010's Winter's Bone, or when she burst into the stratosphere with X-Men: First Class, The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook in the two years following it.

That, though, wasn't the first we saw of the artist currently known as JLaw.

Keen-eyed TBS viewers way back in 2007 might have spotted that there was something slightly special about The Bill Engvall Show. There was just something about that eldest daughter. Something almost...on fire...

That's right, before she was Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence got her big break - at the tender age of 16 - playing Lauren Pearson in The Bill Engvall Show. It wasn't until after the show ended - in 2009, after three seasons - that she would go on to become the adorably klutzy movie icon she is today.

  Fine, so she was adorable then too...
Fine, so she was adorable then too...

The best part? She was far and away the best thing about the show. At 16. Which, in fairness, explains a lot.

Some things, though, there's really no explaining:

Chris Hemsworth Was a Low Budget, Teenage King Arthur

Because sometimes, playing the Norse God of Thunder isn't the strangest role you're going to have to play in your career. Just ask Hemsworth.

After all, his first proper gig was as King Arthur. In a Canadian/Australian show about a girl who realizes she's the reincarnation of Guinevere. Which seemed to have a similarly sized budget to most Sunday picnics.

Meet Guinevere Jones:

The show didn't last more than a year after its debut in 2002, though managed to cram two seasons into that time. It still took Hemsworth another year or two to make it in Australia, though, and it wasn't until 2009's Star Trek that his Hollywood ascendance really began.

  Could it have had something to do with the hair?
Could it have had something to do with the hair?

But, on the plus side, it definitely prepared him for all the silly (read: awesome) outfits in Thor and The Avengers...

Plus, at least he didn't have to get totally naked, unlike a certain Walking Dead star:

Andrew Lincoln Was a Naked, Naked Lawyer

We all know and love Andrew Lincoln from his award-winning turn as Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead - or for fans of Richard Curtis comedies, from 2003's Love Actually.

Back in the day, though, long before he ever blew the head off a 'Walker', Lincoln was just making his way in the world of British TV - and eventually, back in 1996, found himself a hit show.

And by 'found himself', we of course mean 'got butt-naked':

Lincoln played aspiring lawyer Edgar 'Egg' Cook - the kind of name only British TV characters could ever possibly have - in This Life, one of the iconic shows of Britain's 'Britpop' era. A huge hit in its native country, the show eventually only lasted two seasons - despite containing more sex, drugs, barristers and shots of Andrew Lincoln's buttocks than you could ever need.

(Plus, a bonus celebrity before they were famous. Look, it's Jack Davenport from Pirates of the Caribbean - back when he was basically a baby.)

  Being British, it looked like this...
Being British, it looked like this...

And then it was just 13 short years from the show's end till Lincoln got The Walking Dead...

A gap he didn't share with a certain Vampire Diaries alum:

Ian Somerhalder was a Sexually Confused Teen in a Dawson's Creek Spin-Off

That's right, long before he was Damon, Somerhalder cut his teeth in the world of TV with Young Americans, 2000's attempted spin-off to Dawson's Creek. Because back in 2000, that seemed like a great idea.

The show saw him fall in love with one of his classmates at a prestigious boarding school in New England. The twist? It was a boy. Who was secretly a girl.

(Note that the girl he accidentally fell in love with is both very obviously female, and totally Katherine Moennig from the L-Word. Also that everything is better when dubbed into Spanish)

  Presumably she later moved to LA to find herself...
Presumably she later moved to LA to find herself...

Sadly, despite the raw power of a 22 year-old Ian Somerhalder, the show didn't make it past the 8 episodes screened in the summer of 2000.

  Much to Dawson's distress.
Much to Dawson's distress.

Thankfully, though, the WB, which originally showed the series, eventually became the CW, and - obviously realizing the error of their Somerhalder-cancelling ways - cast him in The Vampire Diaries in 2009.

Sometimes, though, you get the feeling stars would have been happier if their breakout show had actually been cancelled:

Oh yes, that's right. We saved the weirdest one for last...

Megan Fox Was in the Worst (and most Swedish) Soap Opera of All Time

This one gets a little weird, gang, so bear with us.

Back in 2002, the Swedish production company Kajak decided that it would be a good idea to make a soap opera. Based in Miami. About a detective investigating a prostitute-murdering serial killer. Which they filmed in both English and Swedish. And called Ocean Ave.

And, because the universe is a wonderful place, they cast a 16-year-old Megan Fox in a leading role.

It then ran for 146 episodes.

Sadly, the series was never screened outside of Sweden - and virtually no footage from it seems to be on the internet.

Even the episodes where Victoria Silvstedt played a sexy detective...

  Pictured: the ultimate police officer.
Pictured: the ultimate police officer.

So, either it's completely fictional and designed to taunt us with the infinite possibilities within it, or Megan Fox has done a reeeeeeally good job of keeping it from the public eye.

Since it is very much not mentioned on her Wikipedia page, we're going to go with the latter. Especially because her uncredited, ultimately cut role in Bad Boys II, 'Stars-and-Stripes Bikini Kid Dancing Under Waterfall', is totally still on there.

Honestly, how bad must the series be?

Sadly, we have no way of knowing, but here's a video of Fox in the mid-2000's sitcom she also starred in, Hope and Faith, to make it up to you:

I mean, I guess it helps, but the pain - the pain just never leaves...

Still want more Celebrity stuff? Well look no further...


What do you guys think? Which celebrity TV start do you find the most surprising?


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