Celebrities are often depicted living a lavish lifestyle. From red carpets to making millions from their latest project, there’s no shortage of stories and images in the media. There’s lots of dirt and gossip, too, of course, but the message is pretty clear: being a celebrity has some great perks. However, while we tend to see the finished product, the success, what we don’t always see is how they got to where they are today.
There’s no such thing as an overnight success, and many famous people dealt with serious problems to get to where they are today. Here are five celebrities who turned their lives around for the better:
1. Danny Trejo
To say Danny Trejo was a troublemaker would be an understatement. During his teens and twenties, Trejo was in and out of prison, and even served time at San Quentin. It was there he became very good at boxing, rising to the top of San Quentin’s welterweight and lightweight division.
Trejo would eventually have success getting off drugs and overcoming his alcohol addiction while in prison and, got his big break in the movie Runaway Train in 1985. First an extra, with his background as a champion boxer, Trejo would end up training the star of the film, Eric Roberts, for some boxing scenes.
Trejo has since amassed nearly 300 acting credits and been the star of such blockbusters as Machete and Machete Kills.
2. Robert Downey, Jr.
On the surface, Robert Downey, Jr. had a lot of great things going for him. His father was an accomplished filmmaker, who got him into the business at a very young age. However, Robert’s father would also introduce him to drugs, which became a destructive habit. Starting in 1996, Downey, Jr. was arrested multiple times for drug charges through 2001, and was also in and out of rehab during that time.
In 2001, he finally managed to get clean and sober. Today, Robert Downey, Jr. is at the top of his profession, and the heart of Marvel’s multibillion-dollar superhero movie franchise.
3. Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron, known for such roles in The Italian Job and Prometheus to name just a couple, had an extremely traumatic experience at the age of 16. One day, her father was drunk and got into a physical fight with her mother. Protecting herself, Theron’s mom shot and killed him. It was ruled as self-defense, and the two did their best to move on.
After being awarded a modeling contract shortly thereafter, and working throughout Europe, Theron moved to New York to study as a ballerina, something she began practicing at an early age. Unfortunately, a knee injury would cause her to drop out and, in 1994, she reached a breaking point.
While attempting to cash a check from her mother, Theron was told it wasn’t possible due to the check being from out of state. It was then that Theron had an outburst, which grabbed the attention of none other than John Crosby, a talent manager. As they say, the rest is history.
4. Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey may not be in the limelight as much as he used to, but he’s arguably one of the top comedic actors of all time. Carrey was a top standup comedian in the 80s, also appearing in some films during that time, and landed a major role on the now iconic television show In Living Color in 1990.
However, before all this and his meteoric rise through the 90s and the new millennium, Carrey dropped out of school at the age of 15 to help his family pay the bills. They lived out of a van for a while, and it would be a trip to Yuk Yuk’s, a popular comedy club in Toronto, that would be the catalyst to an amazingly successful career in comedy.
There’s not a whole lot to be said about Eminem. The highest selling rapper of all time, he’s remained a controversial artist. While things had been going great commercially and financially, Eminem faced an addiction to prescription painkillers. In 2007, it would reach a breaking point.
Overdosed on methadone, the rapper collapsed, and was reportedly within hours of death. It wouldn’t be until April of the following year he’d become completely sober. Perhaps surprising, Elton John was a mentor during this rough patch.
Success is a journey, not a destination. We all deal with adversity, and these five celebrities are a good reminder that even in the worst of times, there’s the ability to overcome.