Hard for the Money

Horrible Bosses’ Jason Sudeikis, J.K. Rowling and More Stars’ Worst Jobs

From Barack Obama’s ice cream scooping to Brad Pitt’s chicken costume, see celebrities’ horrible jobs.

Stars’ Worst Pre-Fame Jobs

In honor of Horrible Bosses, in theaters Friday, see celebrities’ worst job experiences before they were famous, from Barack Obama’s carpal tunnel-inducing ice cream scooping to Brad Pitt’s stint in a chicken suit for El Pollo Loco.

Jason Merritt / Getty Images; Wilfrid Newton / Getty Images

Jason Sudeikis: Costumed Male Servant

“I remember back in Kansas, my friend Corey was like, ‘Hey, this girl I know wants to hire us to do this job at a corporate event. It’s $200 for one hour,’” Horrible Bosses star Jason Sudeikis told Newsweek. “I was like, ‘Hell yes!’ Because that’s a lot for a 19-year-old kid. We show up and they have all these Egyptian slave outfits—we’re shirtless. Think ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’-type outfit. Me, Corey, and two other guys had to carry the CEO of the company as Cleopatra, and I was just like, ‘This is awful!’ I was super embarrassed. I was in much better shape then, and I still hated it!”

Seth Wenig / AP Photo; PR News Foto / Baskin-Robbins

Barack Obama: Baskin-Robbins Employee

Before he had to deal with GOP dissent and an endless barrage of criticism, President Obama had to endure his first summer job: scooping ice cream at a Honolulu Baskin-Robbins. “Chocolate ice cream gets real hard,” Obama told New York Magazine.  “Your wrists hurt. [Carpal tunnel syndrome, although] they didn't call it that.” The President also hated his first job because he ate too much ice cream, and consequently doesn’t like it anymore.

George Pimentel / Getty Images; Newscom

Amy Adams: Hooters Waitress

Three-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams is now America’s sweetheart, but she once worked as a waitress at Hooters. “Everyone would agree, if they could see me, Hooters isn’t necessarily the best way to describe me,” Adams told Parade magazine.  “I was a dancer, and I used to run around in a leotard and tights. I really didn’t quite get it. I was so naïve about that. And I just thought, ‘Well, it’s a leotard and tights and shorts; it’s not a big deal.' But there is a difference, and I learned it. I was 17, and then when I was 18, I waited [tables] for about a month. I wasn’t cut out to be a waitress, and I certainly wasn’t cut out to be a Hooters waitress. That was a short-lived ambition."

Chris Jackson / Getty Images; iStockphoto.com

Brad Pitt: Chicken for El Pollo Loco

In addition to working as a furniture mover and chauffeuring a limo for a strip-o-gram service, now-famous family man Brad Pitt also dressed up as a chicken for bills. He dropped out of the University of Missouri’s journalism school to pursue an acting career in Hollywood, but wound up withstanding 100-degree temperatures outside of an El Pollo Loco restaurant on Sunset Boulevard. Pitt handed out flyers for the chain restaurant, according to People magazine, in full poultry garb.

Dan Steinberg / AP Photo ; William Thomas Cain / Getty Images

Jerry Seinfeld: Light Bulb Telemarketer

"I was a telephone salesman pitching light bulbs," comedian Jerry Seinfeld told People. "It was 1976, and I was just looking for some grocery money. I hated the job, it was horrible. It was all lying, outrageous prices and phony names. I called myself Dave Wilson—you had to come up with a name so people would think they knew you. I'd call and say, 'Hey, Bill, remember I talked to you 18 months ago? It's Dave Wilson.' And the other person doesn't want to insult me, so they'd say, 'Yeah, I think I remember.' I only had the job a couple of weeks and knew it was time to leave as soon as I could afford a loaf of bread."

Zhu Liangcheng / Imaginechina ; Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Kanye West: Sales Assistant at The Gap

Although the rapper and fashion icon probably wouldn’t be caught wearing their clothes today, Kanye West, used to work as a sales assistant at The Gap when he was younger. West, who now counts style gurus Carine Roitfeld and Anna Wintour as friends, rapped about the retail job in the song “Spaceship” off his debut album The College Dropout. These lyrics pretty plainly explain how he felt about it: “Let's go back, back to the Gap / Look at my check, wasn't no scratch / So if I stole, wasn't my fault / Yeah I stole, never got caught / They take me to the back and pat me / Askin' me about some khakis / But let some black people walk in / I bet they show off their token blackie / Oh now they love Kanye, let's put him all in the front of the store / Saw him on break next to the 'No Smoking' sign with a blunt and a Mall' / Takin' my hits, writin' my hits / Writin' my rhymes, playin' my mind / This fuckin' job can't help him / So I quit, y'all welcome.”

David Cheskin / PA Wire; H. Armstrong Roberts / Retrofile / Getty Images

J.K. Rowling: Secretary

Before amassing a $1 billion fortune from her Harry Potter series of wizardry novels, author Joanne “Jo” Rowling was a single mother on welfare. Shortly after her split from Portuguese television journalist Jorge Arantes, she was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and contemplated suicide, which inspired the soul-sucking Dementors in the Potter books. Rowling took a series of secretarial positions, but said she “proved to be the worst secretary ever,” according to J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter.  “All I ever liked about offices was being able to type up stories on the computer when no one was looking. I was never paying attention in meetings because I was usually scribbling bits of my latest stories in the margins of the pad or thinking up names for my characters. This is a problem when you’re supposed to be taking minutes of the meeting.”

Kevin Winter / Getty Images; Aaron Lindberg / Getty Images

Danny DeVito: Hair Stylist/Mortician

He’s best known as the bald, diminutive character actor in films like Twins or the F/X series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but in his younger days, Danny DeVito worked as a morbid hair stylist. “They called me ‘Danny,’ but if you were going to get an article in the paper about you, they tried to pump it up a little bit and called you ‘Mr. Danny,’” DeVito said on Lopez Tonight.  “My sister, Angie, was a hairdresser and I was 18 years old, just out of high school. I wasn’t going to go to college and I needed a job, and she said, ‘Why don’t you come work for me?’” In return, she agreed to pay for his schooling. However, young DeVito wouldn’t just cut living people’s hair, he also styled the deceased. “I used to go in there to the mortuary… it was only women’s hair I did, and it was usually a really old lady, and she didn’t talk back!” DeVito joked.

Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images; Michel Boutefeu / Getty Images

Kristen Wiig: Costumed Caterer

“I used to work at Universal in the executive dining room and I used to cater when I could because it’s good money,” Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig told Newsweek. “I was catering a party for The Scorpion King… We got there and there were all these costumes like burlap sacks, belts, and stuff, and we had to walk around in those costumes. And I saw the guy that was my boss at the first restaurant I worked at in L.A. three years before. I quit that job and was like, ‘See ya later!’ And then I see him three years later wearing a burlap sack and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m doing good!’”

Tammie Arroyo / AP Photo; William Thomas Cain / Getty Images

Hugh Jackman: Professional Clown

This X-Men star might have been the sexiest clown ever. Before kicking ass as the hard-bodied, titanium-clawed Wolverine and dazzling crowds as a celebrated magician in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, actor Hugh Jackman worked as a professional clown, earning around $50 per party. “I am really bad at magic. I in fact used to be a clown at kid's parties,” Jackman confessed to In The News.  “I was Coco the Clown and I had no magic tricks and I remember a six-year-old standing up at a party saying 'Mummy this clown is terrible, he doesn't know any tricks' - and he was right."

Jordan Strauss / WireImage; Mark Humphrey / AP Photo

Madonna: Dunkin’ Donuts Cashier

Before she transformed into the iconic Material Girl and the Queen of Pop, Madonna—or Madonna Louise Ciccone, as she was called then—dropped out of college and moved to New York City to pursue a career in dance. But she wound up working the register at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Times Square. She was reportedly fired on her first day for squirting the donuts’ jelly on customers. “I had a lot of jobs that lasted one day," Madonna told the New York Daily News. Her first band, coincidentally called The Breakfast Club, was shunned by all the record labels, prompting Madonna to strike out on her own. Considering her incredible physique, it seems like she hasn’t touched a doughnut since.

Ian Gavan / Getty Images; Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Channing Tatum: Exotic Dancer

Now he’s known for melting hearts onscreen in Dear John and dancing circles around people in the Step-Up franchise, but Channing Tatum once flaunted his moves in a much more risqué venue. The actor was a Chippendales-style stripper at a club called Male Encounter in Tampa, Florida. The now-married man danced under the name “Chan Crawford.” “I just heard it on the radio and just went in, that was it,” Tatum told Access Hollywood. of his stage name. “You know, 18-years-old in Tampa and you’re broke, you’re pretty much willing to do anything at that time.” Tatum routinely broke it down to Usher or Ginuwine’s “Ride it (My Pony),” but said he usually only took in “like 150 bucks” a night. “[Women] are incredibly cheap when it comes to giving money for sex!” explained Tatum. He later showed off some of his moves on Ellen DeGeneres, giving her a lapdance on her show.