Stars You Love — and the Skeletons They’d Prefer You Didn’t Uncover
No matter your career, a time comes when you have to put the dream on hold and simply pay some bills, suck up to the boss, or work on a less-than-honorable project to show you’re a team player.
It’s no surprise, then, that even our most beloved movie stars have ugly skeletons in their back catalog. Read on for some little-known efforts from big-name stars, and perhaps gain inspiration for that next time you need to swallow some pride, take off the tie and spend your spare hours in a Starbucks apron.
Imagine a project starring Will Smith alongside Queen Latifah, Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep and super-producer Quincy Jones. How fast would you fork over your $12 for that ticket? Not nearly as quickly if you knew it was 1990’s “The Earth Day Special,” a cringe-worthy TV one-off with its heart in the right place but its entertainment value severely missing in action. Jones and others involved in the special also went on to play major parts in Smith’s ascension to global superstar, so it was a smart career play. But still, is it ever a good idea to have dancing grannies and a creepy E.T. look on while you rap about recycling paint cans?
Most people think that Leo’s skeleton is “Growing Pains,” the sitcom he appeared in before launching his formidable film career. But sometimes you have to work a job before you can even land that embarrassing job — and in DiCaprio’s case, that gig was the straight-to-video horror sequel “Critters 3.” Battling hairballs from outer space sure is a long way from three Oscar nominations and a supermodel on each arm — but everybody has to start somewhere, right?
These days, it’s difficult to imagine a more beloved actress than Betty White. But with 74 years in show business, it’s no surprise there were some lean times between “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls.” White made countless appearances on long-gone game shows, hosted the Tournament of Roses and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades, and made enough ill-advised career moves (“The Golden Palace,” anyone?) to bury the career of any mere mortal. It’s what makes the 90-year-old America’s sweetest survivor.
Jon Bon Jovi
He has sold 130 million albums and acted in nearly 20 films. But would you believe that Jersey rocker Jon Bon Jovi got his start … singing a Christmas song to a robot? Track down 1980’s “Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album,” and if you read the fine print on the credits you’ll see a “Jon Bongiovi” credited for vocals on “R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” As the story goes, 17-year-old Jon was sweeping floors at his cousin’s recording studio when opportunity knocked — and now he’s gone from outer-space balladeer to rock-arena legend, proving that the force was indeed with him.
Search “celebrity commercials” and you’ll enter a spiral of suckiness featuring everyone from Bruce Willis to Brad Pitt to Tina Fey. But for pure embarrassment, nothing is worse than this Burger King ad — shot by future Oscar-winning actor/director Ben Affleck when he was a teenager — which packs a mind-boggling number of leaps in logic into a mere 30 seconds, not the least of which is the fact that Burger King doesn’t deliver food. As far as long-forgotten efforts to advance a career are concerned, this one is a whopper.