You Won't Believe Where These Famous Actors Got Their Start

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"I'll start in adult film, and then transition into a mainstream acting career." So goes the old cliche. But it turns out that it isn't always a false hope. These ten celebrities all got their start on the seedy side of showbiz. So whether you're excited or disgusted, there's plenty of surprises here. You'll never look at them the same way again.

1. Sylvester Stallone

A 24-year-old Stallone, desperate for money, signed on to play the titular role in the softcore skin flick The Party at Kitty & Stud's. He received a whopping $200 to appear in the film. He was sleeping at a bus station at the time, so it was a good deal. Stallone doesn't regret it.

"You know, when you’re hungry, you do a lot of things you ordinarily wouldn’t do, and it’s funny how you can readjust your morality for the sake of self-preservation. … In a way, though, it was either do that movie or rob someone, because I was at the end – the very end – of my rope."

After Rocky became a hit, the movie was re-released as Italian Stallion.

2. Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren, who continues to turn heads at age 70, played Milonia Caesonia, Caligula's wife, in the 1979 erotic film Caligula. The movie, the only one ever produced by Penthouse, was originally meant to be a fully explicit adult film, but its hard edges were softened for mainstream theatrical release. Those edges are still pretty hard, and the film was banned in a few countries.

3. Cameron Diaz

Before she was a romantic comedy darling, Cameron Diaz was an actress in an adult film. At age ninteen, she was hired onto the softcore title She's No Angel. Around the same time, she was also photographed nude by a man named John Rutter, who attempted to blackmail her after she became a celebrity. He was arrested for it, and sentenced to three years and eight months in prison. The photos were never released.

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Schwarzenegger, man's man to end all men's men, once appeared in a 1977 issue of the gay men's erotic magazine After Dark. He posed nude for the 'Musclebound and Glory' feature. It was the same year that Pumping Iron was released - his career as an Olympic bodybuilder was in full swing, but his days as an actor were just beginning. It wasn't until 1982 that he got his first big break in film, in Conan the Barbarian.

5. Matt LeBlanc

Matt LeBlanc, famous for playing Joey on the massive hit show Friends, came from humble beginnings. He appeared on two episodes of the softcore erotic television show Red Shoe Diaries, a late-night offering on Showtime. In one of the episodes, he gets frisky with a secretary in an elevator.

6. Sasha Grey

Okay, so this isn't exactly a shocker. Sasha Grey isn't a mainstream actress who had a dalliance with adult film, she's an adult film star who dabbles in straight acting. She appeared in an episode of Entourage and got some critical finger snaps for her starring role in the film The Girlfriend Experience. She no longer does adult work, and is acting full-time with her clothes on.

7. David Duchovny /

The X-Files and Californication star checked himself into sex addiction rehab in 2008. Duchovny starred in the first Red Shoe Diaries movie, released in 1992. In it, he played a man recovering from his wife's death, who solicits other women to send him their erotic diaries.

8. Jackie Chan

Stallone isn't the only action star who turned to adult work for money in hard times. Jackie Chan, despite his squeaky-clean image, once appeared in a 1975 adult feature titled All In the Family. He played a rickshaw driver in Hong Kong who slept with a married woman behind her husband's back. He co-starred with his friend Sammo Hung.

9. Marilyn Monroe

It is common knowledge that Marilyn Monroe posed for nude photographs as a young woman. What you may not be aware of is that she also made an erotic film in 1946 or 1947. The film, which shows some steamy scenes, sold at auction to a New York businessman for $1.5 million. There is also an alleged film of Monroe engaging in a threesome with John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, though the auction was squelched and the film seized by the police.

10. Jon Hamm

Gawker Gawker

Although he never actually appeared on camera in an adult property, actor Jon Hamm of Madmen fame got his start as a set dresser for erotic films. He worked for the company Skinemax, making $200 a day arranging sets for adult films. He called the experience "depressing."


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