Celebrities

Sylvester Stallone, Hugh Jackman and More Celebrities Who Were Teachers Before They Got Famous

These stars went from the classroom to superstardom, but not without punching a student (well, one of them) first

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Gene Simmons

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Before performing in front of thousands in full makeup and tight leather pants, the Kiss bassist and co-lead singer spent several months teaching sixth grade at a public school in New York City’s Upper West Side neighborhood.

“The reason I quit after six months is that I discovered the real reason I became a teacher,” Simmons explained during a June 1978 interview with the Lakeland Ledger. “It was because I wanted to get up on stage and have people notice me. I had to quit because the stage was too small. Forty people wasn’t enough, I wanted 400,000.”

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J.K. Rowling

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After conceiving the idea of Harry Potter while sitting on a train from Manchester to London King’s Cross in 1990, Rowling spent the next five years mapping out her highly successful series. During that time, she gathered up her notes and moved to northern Portugal to teach English, according to her website.

In those years, she got married, had a daughter, got divorced and headed back to the U.K. to teach in Edinburgh schools while writing at any chance she could on the side. Although choosing to teach helped her get by, her decision to continue working on the Harry Potter series proved to be the wiser one.

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Sylvester Stallone

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At 18, the creator of the hit Rocky series was hired by a Swiss boarding school for girls as a gym teacher and dorm bouncer. The teaching gig helped him discover his love of acting. He took that passion and applied it to studying drama at the University of Miami before moving to N.Y.C. to make his dreams come true.

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Sheryl Crow

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The “Soak Up the Sun” singer got her start teaching music during the week and playing gigs on the weekends back in the ’80s, according to The Telegraph.

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Liam Neeson

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Being an action star in Hollywood for decades is nothing compared to the two years Neeson took to train to become a teacher. Neeson called it the “most difficult job” he’s ever had to master, before opening up about the time he had to punch a 15-year-old kid for pulling a knife on him during a 2012 interview with ESPN.

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Billy Crystal

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Among the many interesting tidbits that make up the notable actor’s fascinating life — such as hosting the Academy Awards nine times and being Jay Leno’s very first guest on The Tonight Show — fans may be surprised to know that Crystal worked as a substitute teacher at Long Beach Junior High School in New York, according to CNN.

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Stephen King

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Known for his supernatural horror novels, King chipped away at building his career as a writer while teaching high school English at Hampden Academy in Maine in the fall of 1971, according to his website. King kept teaching until the spring of 1973, when a major sale of his novel Carrie would allow him to quit his job and write full-time.

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Hugh Jackman

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Before Broadway and Hollywood got a hold on him, Jackman spent one year working as a teaching assistant at a top British boarding school called Uppingham School in 1987. He was “an 18-year-old Aussie teaching English to a bunch of English kids,” he recalled, according to BBC. “I thought, if that was my school fees, I’d be pretty annoyed.”

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