11/27/2013 02:14 pm ET

Celebrity Discovery Ages: When Did These Stars Get Their Big Break?

Young as they might be, some of your favorite actors and singers have actually been in the biz for a very, very long time. Check out how old these 12 well-known stars were when they first broke big in Hollywood.

  • 1 Britney Spears: 11
    Spears burst onto the scene at age 16 with the mega-hit "...Baby One More Time." But she had actually been steadily performing and working as a singer since age 11, when she got her first major break as a cast member in the Disney show "Mickey Mouse Club," alongside Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling and Christina Aguilera.
  • 2 Shirley Temple: 3
    America's singing and dancing sweetheart was a mere toddler (age 3) when she was cast in her first film. The child actress' first hit came two years later, in 1934, with the film "Bright Eyes."
  • 3 Jodie Foster: 13
    The actress was just 13 years old when she was cast in the star-making role as a teenage prostitute in Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver," opposite Robert De Niro. Foster got her first Oscar nod for the performance. Prior to the movie, Foster was already a veteran in the biz, having acted in numerous commercials and TV shows since the age of 3.
  • 4 Drake: 15
    Rapper Drake got a rather kiddie-friendly start when he was cast in the Canadian TV show "Degrassi: The Next Generation" at age 15.
  • 5 Justin Bieber: 13
    By now, everyone knows the Justin Bieber story like the back of their hand. The ultimate teen pop star was discovered online at age 13 by future manager Scooter Braun, who had watched several YouTube videos Bieber's mother had put online. Bieber would later be mentored by Usher.
  • 6 Natalie Portman: 11
    Natalie Portman was eating pizza at a restaurant in New York when a Revlon agent approached her. Eleven-year-old Portman passed on the modeling gig but pursued acting instead -- landing an agent that led to her breakout role in 1994's "The Professional."
  • 7 Leonardo DiCaprio: 15
    DiCaprio's career looked promising from the get-go, having acted in a handful of television commercials and bit roles since age 5. His first major break came when he was cast in the soap "Santa Barbara" and "Parenthood" at age 15.
  • 8 Chlöe Sevigny: 17
    Originally from upper-crust Connecticut, Chloe Sevigny was 17 years old and skateboarding in Manhattan's East Village when a fashion editor from Sassy magazine happened to pass by. She asked Sevigny to model for the mag, then made her an intern. Two years later, in 1994, Sevigny was cast in the cult indie film "Kids," and The New Yorker published a seven-page article on Sevigny titled "Chloé's Scene" .
  • 9 Jennifer Lawrence: 14
    At age 14, the "Hunger Games" star was on vacation in New York with her mother when a talent scout approached her in Union Square. "It wasn't creepy, he didn't ask to take me anywhere, he just wanted to take a picture. And then all these agencies started calling and then we just kind of went (to do cold readings) out of boredom," she told the New York Daily News.
  • 10 Rosario Dawson: 15
    Born and raised in the Lower East Side, a 15-year-old Dawson was allegedly just hangin' on her front porch when Larry Clark and Harmony Korine noticed her and talked to her about doing a role in their upcoming film. That movie would become "Kids," in which Dawson starred with Chloe Sevigny.
  • 11 Charlize Theron: 19
    Already an aspiring model from South Africa, Charlize Theron got her lucky break at age 19 in Los Angeles when she freaked out on a bank teller. Standing behind her in line? Talent agent John Crosby, who became her manager.
  • 12 Katherine Heigl: 9
    The actress' aunt allegedly thought a 9-year-old Katherine Heigl would make a good model for a hair-care product she was trying to sell. She was right: The photos landed Heigl early television commercial work.


Celebrity Commercials Before They Were Famous
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