Recently, Reddit user Certain_Guitar6109 asked about "actors that were truly 'discovered.'" They elaborated, "I'm wondering what actors out there were truly 'discovered' by someone in the industry and how? Not actors who made their way through family connections or that simply worked their way up, ones that were completely unknown but someone saw their talent and they made it big from that." Here are the best and top-voted responses:
1."Charlize Theron famously was discovered while arguing with a bank teller over an out-of-state check. She wasn't getting anywhere in LA at the time when she moved there in 1994. Talent agent John Crosby was behind her in line, cashed her check for her, and gave her his card."
2."Edward Furlong was discovered at a Boy’s Club in Pasadena, California. No prior acting experience or ambition."
3."Danny Trejo. He boxed in prison and was an Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous sponsor for a guy doing this movie set in a prison. The guy calls Trejo and says that his sobriety is threatened by being on set around all this booze and drugs. When Trejo gets there, someone brings up that the lead actor needs more boxing lessons. The guy Trejo was sponsoring said, 'This guy Danny knows how to box.' So Trejo was hanging out on set and advising the lead between takes. The director spots him, likes his look, and asks him to stand in as an extra. Trejo takes his shirt off, revealing that big tattoo across his chest, stands in the background, and the rest is history."
4."Angus Cloud. He was just walking down the streets of Manhattan when someone who was casting for what turned out to be Euphoria approached him. He initially thought it was a scam."
5."Rosario Dawson was spotted by a pre-production group that was scouting locations for the film Kids while sitting outside her home in New York. Eventually, the film's writer and director approached her and asked her to audition for the film."
6."Johnny Depp drove a friend to audition for A Nightmare on Elm Street. Wes Craven's daughter saw him just hanging around and insisted that her dad give the 'most beautiful boy I've ever seen' an audition."
7."Matthew McConaughey was discovered by the Dazed And Confused casting director in a hotel bar. He had only done a commercial before that."
8."Haley Joel Osment was discovered in an IKEA with his mom. A casting director saw him and asked him to describe the biggest thing he’d ever seen. He described the Grand Canyon and they used him for a Pizza Hut commercial about big pizzas."
9."Shelley Duvall was a waitress in Texas when she met Robert Altman at a party. He was fascinated by her appearance and personality, so she got on a plane to Hollywood that night to film Brewster McCloud. She’d never been out of Texas."
10."Chris Pratt was waiting tables at a Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant in Hawaii when Rae Dawn Chong discovered him and put him in a movie she was directing."
11."Mr. T was a bouncer who impressed Sylvester Stallone during his appearance on a TV show called Games People Play. Mr. T was part of an 'America's Toughest Bouncer' contest and he tossed two stuntmen about really easily."
12."Kelly MacDonald was working in a bar when friends gave her flyers advertising open auditions for Trainspotting."
13."Dolph Lundgren had a master's degree in chemical engineering and was slated to begin a Fulbright scholarship at MIT but was discovered in a bar by Grace Jones and was hired as a bodyguard. Becoming a couple, they moved to New York where he got involved with modeling before switching to acting."
14."Jennifer Lawrence was on a trip to NYC with her family when some talent scout found her (when she was 14 years old) and asked her to start auditioning for talent agents."
15."Jason Statham was a competitive diver when he was spotted by a modeling agency. He then went on to audition for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."
16."Natalie Portman was discovered in a Long Island pizza restaurant by someone looking to cast for a Revlon campaign."
17."Chris Klein. He was discovered by the director of Election, Alexander Payne, while still in high school. He was scoping out the area to film the movie and the principal introduced him to Chris, who had done a bunch of school plays, and cast him in Election."
18."Topher Grace was acting in a school play when the creators of That '70s Show found him."
19."Steven Spielberg saw Alden Ehrenreich in a video skit taped for some bar mitzvah."
20."Norman Reedus was partying in a bar, and someone asked him if he wanted to be in a play."
21.Finally, "Harrison Ford moved to LA for a voiceover job which didn’t pan out, then worked as an extra for a while before giving up on acting to become a carpenter. He met a casting director through his carpentry work which led to him landing an audition for and being cast in American Graffiti."
Note: some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.