21 Actors Who Almost Quit Hollywood Just Before Their Big Break, In Case You Needed Something To Inspire You Today

1. Robert Pattinson

Edward looking at Bella in Twilight
Summit Entertainment

Pattinson’s audition for the role of Edward in Twilight went so terribly, he apparently called his parents afterward and said he was done torturing himself. However, he got called back in and eventually nabbed the role!

2. Ashleigh Murray

Josie performing onstage in Riverdale
Katie Yu / The CW / Courtesy Everett Collection

Murray was about to take a six-month break from acting to make money and get out of debt when she won the part of Josie on Riverdale.

3. Monique Coleman

Taylor in school in High School Musical
Fred Hayes / Disney Channel / Courtesy Everett Collection

Coleman told BuzzFeed that she was on the brink of giving up on acting because she didn’t think it would happen for her. She debated with her agents and manager about the audition for High School Musical, but ended up going and securing the part of Taylor!

4. Chrissy Metz

Kate smiling in This Is Us
Ron Batzdorff / NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

“Literally, I was going to quit acting and move back home,” Metz told the Today show about how she felt before booking the role of Kate on breakout NBC hit This Is Us. Metz was nominated for an Emmy for the role in 2017.

5. Elizabeth Olsen

Martha/Marcy/Marlene looking in the mirror in Martha Marcy May Marlene
Jody Lee Lipes / 20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

After seeing how the media covered Mary-Kate and how the paparazzi affected both of her sisters’ lives, Olsen considered quitting acting. However, she soon starred in Martha Marcy May Marlene, a performance that generated Oscar buzz, and of course today she’s an integral part of the MCU.

6. Noah Centineo

Noah playing Jesus next to Mariana in The Fosters
Ron Tom / Freeform / Courtesy Everett Collection

Centineo almost quit acting after shooting a role for a Disney Channel pilot. It wasn’t picked up, but he was still barred from auditioning for six months. However, soon after his short hiatus, he was cast on The Fosters!

7. Gal Gadot

Wonder Woman standing in front of Superman and Batman
Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Gadot considered quitting acting before Wonder Woman, telling her husband that she wasn’t sure how much more she could take after putting up with so many “almosts.” However, she soon got a call from Zack Snyder to audition for a secret role — one guess as to what that role was.

8. Kristen Stewart

Sam on a payphone in The Safety Of Objects
IFC Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

As a kid, Stewart auditioned for a year without getting any commercials and decided to stop auditioning. Her mother convinced her to go to her last scheduled audition, which was for The Safety of Objects — and she landed it.

9. John Krasinski

Jim being interviewed in The Office

Krasinski recounted to Stephen Colbert how his mom told him to give it two and a half to three years to try out acting. At the end of the two and a half years, he called his mom to tell her he was done and to ask her to pick him up in New York. However, she encouraged him to wait it out until the end of the year, and two weeks later, he was cast in The Office.

10. Melissa McCarthy

Sookie in the kitchen in Gilmore Girls
Warner Bros. Television / Courtesy Everett Collection

McCarthy had been telling herself for years that she was going to quit acting and move into a different industry once she turned 30. The week she turned 30, she was cast in Gilmore Girls.

11. Jenna Fischer

Pam being interviewing in The Office
Chris Haston / NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

Fischer planned to return to Missouri after seven years if the business didn’t lead to any breakout success, but her manager convinced her to audition for one more season. She did, ultimately getting cast as Pam in The Office.

12. William Jackson Harper

Chidi looking back in The Good Place
Justin Lubin / NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

Harper was planning on giving up on acting and decided to do one last pilot season. He said this helped him be more relaxed in the audition, which is part of the reason he thinks he got the role of Chidi in the critically acclaimed comedy The Good Place.

13. Courtney Henggeler

Amanda holding a martini in Cobra Kai
Curtis Bonds Baker / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

Henggeler wanted to quit acting, but her husband asked her to keep at it until they could figure out new health insurance, since at that time they got it through the Screen Actors Guild. She kept on auditioning, eventually booking the role of Amanda LaRusso in Cobra Kai.

14. Joshua Bassett

Ricky playing guitar in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
Eric McCandless / Disney+ / Courtesy Everett Collection

Bassett almost quit acting before discovering he’d been cast on the Disney+ show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. He soon got a record deal at Warner Records and recently released an EP.

15. Bradley Cooper

Sack stands next to Claire at a table in Wedding Crashers
New Line / Courtesy Everett Collection

After his role got reduced on Alias, Cooper quit the show, then tore his Achilles tendon soon after and basically had to spend a year on the couch. However, after being able to audition again, he quickly landed Wedding Crashers.

16. Millie Bobby Brown

Eleven with a nosebleed walking menacingly down the road in Stranger things
Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

After failing to get a role on Game of Thrones, Brown considered quitting acting — however, she persevered, and two months later she booked the role of Eleven in Stranger Things.

17. Amy Adams

Amy as Ashley lying pregnant on the couch in Junebug
Amy as Giselle in Enchanted
Sony Pictures Classics / Courtesy Everett Collection, Buena Vista Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Adams was about to turn 30 when she went to film Junebug, and had just discovered she’d been dropped from the TV show Dr. Vegas. She planned to find a new career after the film, and even after shooting it, she was trying to figure out what to do next. However, she soon booked Enchanted and she garnered an Oscar nomination for Junebug, turning her into a star.

18. Chris Hemsworth

Curt standing in a basement in a Letterman jacket in The Cabin In The Woods
Diyah Pera / Lionsgate / Courtesy Everett Collection

Hemsworth was sick of dealing with rejection and decided to go home to Australia. However, he first auditioned for The Cabin in the Woods, gaining the part of Curt in 2009. Two years later, he’d play Thor in the MCU.

19. Jon Hamm

Jon Hamm as Captain Matt Dillon in We Were Soldiers
Paramount Pictures

Like Melissa MCarthy, Hamm had promised himself if he didn’t make it by 30, he’d quit. He ended up turning 30 on the set of We Were Soldiers and says that he “made it under the wire.”

20. David Harbour

Jim Hopper talking to Jonathan in Stranger Things
Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

Harbour was ready to give up on taking film acting seriously when he was cast in Stranger Things, saying that he would do it to make money on the side while pursuing theater but wouldn’t put his heart in it. He thought he’d never get the Stranger Things role, and after he got it, he decided that it would be the last film or TV role he cared about. It ended up reinvigorating him and encouraging him to pursue more film and TV acting. This year, he’ll star alongside Scarlett Johansson in Black Widow as Marvel character the Red Guardian.

21. And finally, Mark Ruffalo

Paul sitting at a table in  in The Kids Are All Right
Suzanne Tenner / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

After his brother was murdered in 2008, Ruffalo got rid of his agent and manager and moved to upstate New York with his family, saying he’d “had it with acting.” He ended up taking a role in The Kids Are All Right, and this helped him fall in love with acting again, especially when he saw it at the Sundance Film Festival.

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