Louis de Funès, Kad Merad… 10 French actors who practiced improbable professions before being known

While some were scouted as teenagers, many actors took time to rise to stardom and first had to earn a living outside of acting. Between odd jobs and amazing careers, here are 10 French actors who had another job before finding success.

Gérard Depardieu – bodyguard for prostitutes

© EuropaCorp

Rough formwork, bon vivant and fine poet, Gérard Depardieu has proven to us throughout his career that he can do anything. Cop or thug, scholar or simpleton, cad or sweet romantic, the French actor has slipped into the skin of characters all as different from each other. A real chameleon talent, which he worked to exercise from an early age. As a teenager, the latter thus multiplied odd jobs, excelling in infiltrating any environment.

A native of Châteauroux, he quickly got into various trades (cigarettes, alcohol, clothing) by buying products at the American military base next to his home, which he then resold at a higher price. From there, his relations with the GIs intensified, so much so that he became the bodyguard for the Parisian prostitutes who went to the base on weekends. A particularly original job, which he then abandoned to try his luck in the cinema.

Leïla Bekhti – clothing saleswoman

leila bekhti

© Mars Films

If she broke through early enough with Everything that shines in 2007, Leïla Bekhti was still forced to go through the odd job box in order to pay for her theater lessons. In her youth, while she was learning the profession of actress at school, the young woman worked in parallel as a saleswoman in the clothing store run by her brother in Orléans. Enough to confront the harsh reality before being propelled into a life of rhinestones and sequins.

Camille Cottin – English teacher

camille cottin

© Focus features

Before playing the bitches on television, then the agents of stars in the series Ten percent, Camille Cottin first opted for an ordinary course. After spending five years in London during her teenage years, the young woman studied to obtain her master’s degree in English. With her diploma in hand, she then taught the language of Shakespeare for some time in secondary school, before taking the plunge and choosing to devote herself exclusively to her passion, the theatre.

There followed a few years of small roles in plays, series or films, before getting noticed and starting a real ascent in the world of French and American cinema. Like what, learning English will not have been useless, far from it! In 2021 alone, the actress was on the bill of Stillwater alongside Matt Damon, then House of Gucci with Lady Gaga and Adam Driver.

Fabrice Luchini – from hairdresser to actor

fabrice luchini

© Gaumont Distribution

We no longer present Fabrice Luchini! Between his career in cinema, theater and his antics on television sets, the latter has forged an image of a multi-faceted artist. Still, the actor didn’t always intend to go down the comedy route. As a child, he did not like school and barely got his school certificate.

Having no desire to continue with high school, he then found a place as an apprentice at a hairdresser where he worked for a while. It is also from this period that he got the first name Fabrice – his real name is Robert – which he then kept for the rest of his life. Attracted by the party, the young man also spent time in nightclubs, where he ended up being spotted by Philippe Labro, who then offered him his first role in the film Everything can happen.

François-Xavier Demaison – from tax expert to actor



A very good student who passed his schooling perfectly, François-Xavier Demaison quickly turned to law and economics, while taking theater lessons. After high school, he therefore obtained a master’s degree in law, as well as a master’s degree in political science, while following the free class of Cours Florent. A double apprenticeship, which he finally abandoned when he entered the Institute of Political Studies in order to devote himself 100% to his studies in the eco-finance section.

Once immersed in the world of work, the latter then did a little auditing, then was recruited by Landwell and associates, for whom he went on a mission to New York in the summer of 2001. A few weeks later, he witnessed the attack on the World Trade Center from his office. A violent trauma, which then pushed him to leave everything to return to his true love, comedy. Terribly daring, this 180 degree turn finally succeeded, allowing him to live his dream and start a career as a comedian and actor.

Blanche Gardin – educator in the suburbs

white gardin

© Gaumont Distribution

While she is now one of France’s most famous comedians, Blanche Gardin could have had a completely different life. Once high school was over, the young woman obtained a DEA in sociology, before starting as an educator in the Paris suburbs. A difficult job that she did not ultimately exercise very long, having been spotted by Karl Zéro, host at Canal +. Thanks to him, the budding comedian was able to make himself known little by little with his sketches, until he became a stand-up star and even a film actress.

Actor Dany Boon – street mime

dany boon

© Pathé Distribution

Far from having always been the star of the comedy that we know now, Dany Boon started at the bottom of the ladder and had to redouble his work and patience before finding success. Originally from the North, the latter therefore began by doing mime in the street when he arrived in Paris in 1989. A small job which is not surprising knowing the talent of the artist for his particularly expressive sketches. From the outdoor scene to the indoor scene, it only takes one step, and the young man quickly took it, then getting noticed with his various one-man shows.

Julie Ferrier – dancer

Julie Ferrier

© Mars Distribution

If the public now identifies her as an actress and comedian, Julie Ferrer started her career in dance. A high-level artist, she has worked with choreographers such as Redha, Philippe Decouflé and even Rick Odums and even took part in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Albertville in 1992. For fifteen years, she is therefore produced on stage in various dance shows and even in Michel Drucker’s shows, in which she was part of the ballet. Gradually, she then moved closer to comedy, embarked on stand-up, then entered the world of cinema.

Louis de Funès – from furrier to actor



Considered one of the greatest French comic actors, Louis de Funès took many years to find his way. Rather bad student, the latter was known to be turbulent and often disturbed the order of the group. Having left school quite early, he then began training as a furrier, but was fired for a matter of heckling. However, he worked for a while with various furriers afterwards, before moving on to other odd jobs.

Decorator, accountant, window dresser or even bar pianist, he has tried his hand at many professions, without ever finding a shoe that suits him. It was not until the age of 28 that he decided to become an actor and therefore began to take acting lessons. A change of direction that will turn his life upside down, gradually propelling him towards an incredible acting career, which will result in an appearance in more than 150 films.

Kad Merad – GO at Club Med


© Pathé Distribution

Before exploding at the cinema with Welcome to the Ch’tis, Kad Merad also went through a more complicated period, earning his living through various odd jobs. Among them, that of animator at Club Med, which allowed him to take his first steps on stage and to test his comic potential in front of a real audience. Ideal therefore for trying out small sketches and finding your voice, before really embarking on comedy several years later.

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Louis de Funès, Kad Merad… 10 French actors who practiced improbable professions before being known