Prior to gaining fame, fortune, and fans, many celebrities are proud to admit that they were once humbly employed by the home of the Big Mac. Whether they flipped burgers, deep-fried salted spuds, worked behind the register, or fulfilled janitorial duties, McDonald’s often became a stepping stone to bigger and better opportunities. (Heck, even Donald Trump did a commercial for them.)
While many of these stars admit that working at your favorite fast food joint wasn’t their greatest accomplishment (or even enjoyable, to say the least), others beg to differ, proudly revealing that the chain shaped their values and instilled lifelong lessons.
Find out which comedian worked 70-hour weeks to support his family and which tech giant founder started out cracking eggs for McMuffin production in our list below. And since you’ll probably crave a visit to your local Mickey D’s after scouring our report, be sure to consult our compilation of Every Menu Item at McDonald’s—Ranked! before you hit the drive-thru.
Long before she landed the role of The Plastics’ queen bee, Rachel McAdams “had a small-town life,” she told The New York Times. “I worked at the local McDonald’s for three years. I’m not sure why they kept me: I am something of a daydreamer and a dawdler, so they would only let me be the ‘friendly voice’ that greeted you when you entered the restaurant. I was slow—I would be organizing the sweet-and-sour packets in the customer’s takeout bag while the line snaked out the door.”
In the early 70’s, Jay Leno used to charge his friends just a buck for 15 hamburgers and 10 orders of fries at the McDonald’s in Andover, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, we can’t confirm whether he inspired the dollar menu three decades later.
Prior to scoring gigs as a Ford model and then landing her famous roles in Total Recall and Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone worked behind the McDonald’s counter part-time.
Even at age 16, Jeff Bezos was as determinedly time-efficient as he is as Amazon’s famous founder. “One of the great gifts I got from that job is that I can crack eggs with one hand. My favorite shift was Saturday morning,” he told Fast Company about his cook position at a Miami McDonald’s as a high schooler. “I would get a big bowl and crack 300 eggs in it.”
The “Kiss From A Rose” singer admitted to The Guardian that he absolutely despised his job at the golden arches. “The worst job I ever had was in McDonald’s in Kentish Town. I was 16 and they gave me a brown uniform that was two sizes too small. I stayed two weeks, until I got my first paycheck, then I was outta there.”
Although Macy Gray preceded her soulful singing career with burger stacking, she also appeared in a McDonald’s commercial fresh out of college in 1996. “I worked as a McDonald’s crew person and there is so much more to working at McDonald’s than people know,” she admitted in a press release. “The action, the fun, the people, the sense of accomplishment—it truly was my first big break!”
The country crooner worked at a McDonald’s joint in Ontario, Canada during her high school years. At night, she frequented bars to practice her singing, she told US Weekly.
After dropping out of college and being coerced by his parents to find a job, James Franco landed working the late shift at the drive-thru and later moved on to the front counter during daylight hours. Unlike many ex-fry fryers, Franco is forever grateful for the gig. “All I know is that when I needed McDonald’s, McDonald’s was there for me. When no one else was,” he wrote in an article for The Washington Post.
Keenan Ivory Wayans
The White Chicks star also starred as a Mickey D’s manager before graduating high school. But rather than working to finance his own expenses, Keenan Wayans honorably struggled through 70-hour workweeks to support his parents.
“Sometimes I dream I am back there, broke and working at McDonalds. It’s like the worst nightmare because I would never want to be back there. I’ve worked hard to get where I am,” P!nk said, according to Business Insider. Perhaps the popstar’s positions at Pizza Hut and Wendy’s served her better.
Before starring in the wildly successful Broadway musical Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda worked the Mickey D’s register. He revealed on Twitter that it was one of his first seven jobs.
“The manager didn’t think I had the social skills to work the counter, and now I’m in Congress!” Paul Ryan admitted to Business Insider about his time as a McDonald’s employee. He even tweeted, “If you work at McDonalds, someday you too can be Speaker of the House.”
Pharrell Williams wasn’t too “Happy” when he tried to make ends meet at McDonald’s—and was fired three times! “I was lazy. I was very lazy,” he once admitted on Late Night With Seth Meyers, adding that the only task he was good at was eating McNuggets. In an unexpected twist of events, the producer ended up co-writing the I’m Lovin’ It jingle years later.
Winner of 10 Olympic medals in track and field, Carl Lewis attributes learning vital life skills to his fast food job when he was just 16 years old. “Time is very important … you couldn’t let the fries get cold,” Lewis said, according to Fox News. “If I was 10 seconds off, I’d have no gold medal.”
The former co-host of The View, Star Jones got her hands greasy as a French fry fryer. She was later promoted to cashier.
James D’Arcy, or better known as the butler in Agent Carter, must’ve picked up on those impressive food service skills while he worked in a McDonald’s in England.
Sure, he’s the frontman of 90’s rock band Limp Bizkit, but before his big break as a rockstar, Fred Durst worked the morning shift in a Florida-based McDonald’s.
“One of the most popular and highly recognized standup comedians,” according to his website, has kicked off his career cleaning the Mickey D’s lobby. Apparently, he didn’t share the fast food chain’s core values, as once he tweeted, “It’s funny that McDonalds uses a heart in their commercials, When u consider how many hearts their food has stopped! #TeamDl”
Andrew Card, Chief of Staff under George W. Bush, and notably known as the one who whispered the 9/11 news to the former president’s ear, also worked for the fast food joint in South Carolina in 1967. “I remember thinking that McDonald’s was unique as a great equalizer. Wealthy and poor, black and white all came to McDonald’s and stood in the same lines and sat at the same booths,” he revealed, according to Bloomberg.
Andie MacDowell, better known as Rita in Groundhog Day, scored a part-time position at a South Carolina Mickey D’s, as well as in a Pizza Hut, as a teen. We’re wondering if she prefers patties over pies.
Prior to releasing his smash hit “Keep Your Head Up,” Andy Grammer took a job at the golden arches.
Standing at six feet tall, former baseball player Chris Sabo not only batted professionally, but also worked the counter at a McDonald’s in Tampa, Florida. Psst, before you pick up a McDouble, find out How Healthy is Your Fast Food Meat? in our exclusive report.