40 Celebs Who Were Friends Before They Became Famous
Bonds that preceded fame and fortune—and weathered it, too
Some friends start businesses together. Some friends start bands together. And some friends go the whole nine yards and get famous together. And we’re not talking mildly famous—we’re talking magazine-cover, Dolby Theater regular, household name famous.
DiCaprio and Maguire. Apatow and Sandler. Kidman and Watts. As it so happens, a whole lot of the Hollywood star-power friendships you know and love fomented in the fires of pre-fame youth. Herein, we’ve rounded up some most long-lasting friendships of the red carpet crowd.
Nick Kroll and John Mulaney
If you’ve seen Big Mouth or heard of Saturday Night Live, then you’re probably familiar with John Mulaney and Nick Kroll. But what you might not know is that before these two could take the comedy world by storm, they first had to conquer the Georgetown improv scene via the Georgetown Players Improv Group—and it was this college experience that helped both Mulaney and Kroll to become the famous funny men they are today.
Liv Tyler and Kate Hudson
It’s no secret that these ladies were both born into fame (Liv Tyler is the daughter of Steven Tyler, and Kate Hudson’s mother is Goldie Hawn), but they have a stronger connection than that. The two went to high school together at Crossroads School of Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, before co-starring in their first breakout film, Dr. T. & the Women.
Adam Levine and Jonah Hill
Before Adam Levine became the lead singer for Maroon 5 and before Jonah Hill caused audiences coast-to-coast to laugh in Superbad, the two knew each other as middle schoolers. Reportedly, they even carpooled to school together. What’s more, their moms are friends, too. Patsy Noah (Levine’s mom) and Sharon Feldstein (Hill’s) recently got together and cofounded Your Mom Cares, a charity dedicated to supporting pediatric mental health for underserved children.
Conan O’Brien and Jeff Garlin
Long before Conan O’Brien was hosting shows on late night television and Jeff Garlin was starring alongside Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm and Alia Shawkat in Arrested Development, the two men were just struggling comedians in Chicago. And since struggling artists aren’t exactly known for making the big bucks, the future stars found themselves sharing an apartment. On an episode of Conan, O’Brien recalled that Garlin would “make me do impressions and skits for him for his amusements—and for some reason, I did. He has that power. I didn’t say no. I just was like, this guy is yelling at me to perform, I better do it.”
B.J. Novak and John Krasinski
Before they co-acted as Dunder Mifflin paper salesmen in The Office, B.J. Novak and John Krasinski were pretty close. The actors first met playing Little League baseball in Newtown, Massachusetts, their hometown. Soon enough, the two ditched the baseball diamond for the TV set, after Novak did some convincing to get Krasinski to even consider an acting career.
Robert Downey Jr. and Keifer Sutherland
Robert Downey Jr. and Keifer Sutherland shared a Los Angeles bachelor pad for three years in the ’80s while they were still working to get their acting careers up off the ground—which, several Iron Mans and seasons of 24 later, it’s conclusive to say they succeeded at.
Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler
You’ve heard the saying, “Birds of a feather flock together,” right? Something of the same sort seems to be true for comedians. Back when Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler were still struggling to make a name for themselves, they shared an apartment (and many half-written stand-up scripts) with each other in Los Angeles.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Maya Rudolph
Gwyneth Paltrow and Maya Rudolph were practically destined to become best friends. The two actresses’ fathers met as students at Tulane University in New Orleans, before both making the move to Hollywood post-graduation—and sending their daughters (enter: Gwyneth and Maya) to the prestigious Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences.
Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman
“We have a strong respect and love for one another,” actress Naomi Watts has said about her relationship with longtime friend Nicole Kidman. The two actresses grew close when they were both cast in the 1991 film Flirting, but they were already acquainted well before that, having attended the same high school and theater company in Australia.
Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson
Today, filmmaker Wes Anderson seldom makes a movie without actor Owen Wilson in it in some capacity—and this likely has to do with the fact that the two were college roommates before they were red-carpet regulars, having bonded in a playwriting class at the University of Texas at Austin.
Connie Britton and Lauren Graham
Prior to landing starring roles as iconic television series mothers, in Friday Night Lights and Gilmore Girls respectively, Connie Britton and Lauren Graham were housemates. Graham has laughingly since revealed, on an episode of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, that she and Britton weren’t even actually supposed to be living in the house at the time.
Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera
Yep, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera knew each other in their pre-shaved head and platinum-dyed-hair days. These two soon-to-be pop stars initially met through appearances on Disney Channel’s The Mickey Mouse Club as young pre-teens.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the late 1970s, young Matt Damon and Ben Affleck attended elementary school together, not knowing what the future would entail. Fast forward, and within a few years of graduating high school, the two friends would go on to collaborate on Good Will Hunting, winning two Academy Awards and launching both their careers in the film industry.
Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato
Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato go way back to the dinosaur era—the green-and-purple dinosaur era, that is. Even before Gomez and Lovato co-starred in Disney Channel’s original movie, Princess Protection Program, they became friends from appearances on the children’s TV show, Barney and Friends.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire
Though Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire portray characters experienced with life in the lap of luxury from time to time (as evidenced by their somewhat recent co-starring in the 2013 version of The Great Gatsby), their upbringing was anything but easy. The two, who were both raised by single mothers, first met at an audition when they were both 12 years old and hoping to get their start in the movie industry. The rest is cinematic (and tabloid) history.
Mel Gibson and Geoffrey Rush
Even some of the big-name stars once had to scrape by to make it from day to day—and Geoffrey Rush and Mel Gibson are no exception. The two shared an apartment in Sydney, Australia, in 1979 while acting in a local production of Waiting for Godot.
Amanda Seyfried and Mae Whitman
While Amanda Seyfried is best known for starring in films like Mean Girls and Mamma Mia! and Mae Whitman shines in television series like Parenthood and Arrested Development, the two have been friends through all their acting careers. Before they both made it big, the two used to walk the red carpet together.
Adele and Jessie J
Adele and Jessie J became fast friends (and even occasionally sang together) when they attended the London-based BRIT school, a prestigious performing arts academy, as teenagers.
Ryan Gosling and Justin Timberlake
Before becoming international heartthrobs, Ryan Gosling and Justin Timberlake were just your average Mouseketeers. In the early ’90s, when Gosling and Timberlake were in their teens, the two bonded (and, according to People, their families even shared a house at one point) while appearing on Disney Channel’s The Mickey Mouse Club, just like Spears and Aguilera.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
Funnily enough, it was comedy that brought Tina Fey and Amy Poehler together—even before they became the first female dynamic duo to co-host Saturday Night Live, the two met at Chicago’s ImprovOlympic comedy theater. And that was just the start of their lifelong friendship. Poehler once told PopSugar that she thinks of herself and Fey as “chosen sisters.”