17 Actors You Had No Idea Started Out as Models

Models are more than just pretty faces — sometimes people get into modeling as a stepping stone to becoming an actor. Some of your favorite movie stars used to model, and a few have made it from selling clothes to winning Oscars. From embarrassing childhood photos to campaigns for high-end designers, these 17 celebrities have some interesting back stories.

Ashton Kutcher

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Ashton Kutcher intended to be a biochemical engineering major at the University of Iowa, but he dropped out after winning the Fresh Faces of Iowa modeling competition. In a talk at Colgate University, Kutcher said, “Hey, listen. I was a college dropout. Then I became a male model. Then an actor, and a film producer and TV producer. Then an entrepreneur. I didn’t know what the f–k I was doing!” It doesn’t matter where you start, you can still make it work and reach your goals.

Charlize Theron

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Charlize Theron’s mom Gerda encouraged her to enter a modeling competition in Johannesburg, South Africa at age 15. She won first place and went on to represent her country and ultimately win the International New Model Today contest. This experience could explain why so many top fashion designers have asked her to model for their campaigns. Oh, and the fact that she’s insanely gorgeous.

Channing Tatum

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Channing Tatum was discovered by a modeling scout when he was walking around in Miami. This led to him posing for Abercrombie & Fitch, Sean John, and Nautica before he caught his big break as a dancer in the 2006 movie Step Up.

Cameron Diaz

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Cameron Diaz was a successful teenage model. A photographer discovered Diaz when she was 16 at a party. Diaz appeared on the cover of Seventeen in addition to modeling for big brands including Coca Cola and Calvin Klein.

Kellan Lutz

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Kellan Lutz posed shirtless for some Abercrombie & Fitch ads. The Twilight star is actually still signed to Ford Models and models on a regular basis.

Josh Duhamel

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Back in 1997, Josh Duhamel won the Male Model of the Year title. He beat Ashton Kutcher, who placed second in the contest. Duhamel said that it felt like “the happiest moment of my life.”

Jennifer Lawrence

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Jennifer Lawrence started off with modeling before she crossed over into acting. She even had a brief stint with Abercrombie & Fitch — very brief. Lawrence told Conan O’Brien, ”I did stuff for Abercrombie & Fitch, but you’d never know because none of my pictures ever got released.” But of course the photos were released after she hit super stardom years later.

Ian Somerhalder

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Ian Somerhalder had an illustrious career as a teen model. The Vampire Diaries star modeled for big fashion brands like Calvin Klein, Versace, and Nautica.

Lindsay Lohan

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Before she stole our hearts in the Parent Trap, Lindsay Lohan was a very successful child model. She modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch (like pretty much everyone else, apparently) and even appeared on a shopping bag. She also posed for Calvin Klein.

Robert Pattinson

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Robert Pattinson’s mom worked at a modeling agency so it’s no shock that he started modeling at the young age of 12. However, his success started to wane and he explained in an interview with Closer years later: “When I first started I was quite tall and looked like a girl, so I got lots of jobs, because it was during that period where the androgynous look was cool. Then, I guess, I became too much of a guy, so I never got any more jobs. I had the most unsuccessful modeling career.” I think his manly looks are doing very well for him at this point in his life — clearly.

Leighton Meester

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Leighton Meester signed a contract with Wilhelmina Models at age 10 and appeared in Ralph Lauren ads. She moved to New York City at age 11 and hasn’t looked back since.

Djimon Hounsou

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Before getting nominated for Academy Awards, Djimon Hounsou was an international fashion model. Hounsou was noticed by a Paris photographer who invited him to audition for famous French designer Thierry Mugler and the rest was history.

Alexis Bledel

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Alexis Bledel was the epitome of a ’90s girl back in her modeling days. She was the face of sparkling lip gloss, headbands, and another lip product called “Sweet Treat Lip Gloss.” Those pictures will never get old — well, maybe for Alexis Bledel herself.

James Marsden

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Before melting our hearts as a charming actor, James Marsden was a Versace Model. Marsden has attempted to down play his good looks, telling Out, “I’m actually less comfortable being the smoldering hot guy. I’d rather play a goofball or a rube than a steamy leading-man role.” I’ll watch him in any role, to be honest.

Angelina Jolie

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Angelina Jolie had plenty of fashion modeling gigs, but she also appeared in a bunch of music videos for artists including Meat Loaf and Lenny Kravitz. It’s crazy to think that she went from being a young model to a famous movie star and philanthropist.

Amanda Seyfried

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Most of us were extremely awkward tweens, but Amanda Seyfried was an exception as tween model. She appeared in ads for the store Limited Too and on the cover of three Sweet Valley High books.

Mark Wahlberg

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Of course, I had to include this one. This may not be the biggest “surprise” on the list, but come on, you know you just Googled ”Mark Wahlberg Calvin Klein.” You’re welcome.