These faces ought to be familiar from the big screen, but these actors, actresses and directors saw their fair share of rejection and failure before they made it big.
- Jerry Seinfeld: Just about everybody knows who Seinfeld is, but the first time the young comedian walked on stage at a comedy club, he looked out at the audience, froze and was eventually jeered and booed off of the stage. Seinfeld knew he could do it, so he went back the next night, completed his set to laughter and applause, and the rest is history.
- Fred Astaire: In his first screen test, the testing director of MGM noted that Astaire, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” Astaire went on to become an incredibly successful actor, singer and dancer and kept that note in his Beverly Hills home to remind him of where he came from.
- Sidney Poitier: After his first audition, Poitier was told by the casting director, “Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?” Poitier vowed to show him that he could make it, going on to win an Oscar and become one of the most well-regarded actors in the business.
- Jeanne Moreau: As a young actress just starting out, this French actress was told by a casting director that she was simply not pretty enough to make it in films. He couldn’t have been more wrong as Moreau when on to star in nearly 100 films and win numerous awards for her performances.
- Charlie Chaplin: It’s hard to imagine film without the iconic Charlie Chaplin, but his act was initially rejected by Hollywood studio chiefs because they felt it was a little too nonsensical to ever sell.
- Lucille Ball: During her career, Ball had thirteen Emmy nominations and four wins, also earning the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors. Before starring in I Love Lucy, Ball was widely regarded as a failed actress and a B movie star. Even her drama instructors didn’t feel she could make it, telling her to try another profession. She, of course, proved them all wrong.
- Harrison Ford: In his first film, Ford was told by the movie execs that he simply didn’t have what it takes to be a star. Today, with numerous hits under his belt, iconic portrayals of characters like Han Solo and Indiana Jones, and a career that stretches decades, Ford can proudly show that he does, in fact, have what it takes.
- Marilyn Monroe: While Monroe’s star burned out early, she did have a period of great success in her life. Despite a rough upbringing and being told by modeling agents that she should instead consider being a secretary, Monroe became a pin-up, model and actress that still strikes a chord with people today.
- Oliver Stone: This Oscar-winning filmmaker began his first novel while at Yale, a project that eventually caused him to fail out of school. This would turn out to be a poor decision as the the text was rejected by publishers and was not published until 1998, at which time it was not well-received. After dropping out of school, Stone moved to Vietnam to teach English, later enlisting in the army and fighting in the war, a battle that earning two Purple Hearts and helped him find the inspiration for his later work that often center around war.