After 5 intense seasons, the cast of The Walking Dead are pretty solidified in their fame. They all attend conventions annually, where their fans turn up in the thousands. The show has broken records on Twitter during episodes and people pretty much freak out when any news about the show is leaked. We may never look at Norman Reedus again without thinking of his classic Daryl Dixon crossbow, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a life before TWD. What was he (and the rest of this now-famous cast) up to back in the day? A few of these famous faces had some not-so-Hollywood names originally.
Before she was singing sad songs on TWD, Emily Kinney attended New York University for a semester. She went on to graduate from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater. She moved to NYC to pursue an acting career on Broadway and wound up working in coffee shops. Her time as a barista helped her meet people from the industry and she began working in plays, being cast in the play Spring Awakening. Some of her early film work includes Hot For Teacher, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and It’s Complicated.
When Sonequa was in the 10th grade, she originally planned on becoming a psychologist. She wound up changing her mind and attended the University of Alabama, getting her degree in theater. She actually met her husband Kenric Green while working on a play in Princeton, New Jersey. Some of her early work includes Army Wives, Toe to Toe, and The Good Wife – which is where she gained a lot of traction in the business before TWD.
Out of everyone on this list, Scott Wilson was pretty much famous from the get-go. Way back when he started, he began his career by playing multiple different characters suspected of murder in several movies like In The Heat of the Night, In Cold Blood, and Castle Keep. At the time, he was cast in In Cold Blood, a film based on a real-life murderer, because he was widely unknown.
Like a lot of her former co-workers (RIP Lori), Sarah Wayne Callies went to school for acting. After living in Hawaii as a child, she attended school in the U.S., graduating from Denver's National Theater Conservatory, where she obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree in 2002. She moved to New York to pursue her dream of acting and landed her first few roles in Queens Supreme, Law & Order: SVU, and Tarzan - the TV series, not the animated Disney classic.
Laurie Holden was born to two actors and in turn, wound up being one her self – though unintentionally. Holden received her first film role when she was a young child. While visiting her stepfather, director Michael Anderson, on set, the young actress hired to play Rock Hudson's daughter in The Martian Chronicles never arrived, so Laurie stepped in. When she was a teenager, she won The Look of the Year modeling contest in Toronto and was then given a minor role as a babysitter in Anderson's comedy Separate Vacations. She may have later become a full-time actress, but Holden actually graduated from the Bishop Strachan School, she attended McGill University, where she studied economics and political science.
Originally, Chad L. Coleman had intentions to take up a career in track and field, but a leg injury led him to study drama. He attended Virginia Commonwealth University on a scholarship shortly, but dropped out to serve in the United States Army. While he was in the army, he worked as a video camera man. He found his way back to acting after that, starting out with small roles in Law & Order, New York Undercover, and Speed of Life.
Michael Cudlitz was born and raised on the east coast, but wound up attending school at the California Institute of Arts. Before he gained fame from Band of Brothers, he was one of the jerks on the opposing team in D3: The Mighty Ducks.
At a very young age David Morrissey became interested in film, television and Gene Kelly musicals. He decided to become an actor while he attended St. Margaret Mary’s School. He was the Scarecrow in his school's production of The Wizard of Oz. But the following year, while attending a different school he feared the pressure of what bullies might say about his acting so he quit for a while. He eventually joined the Everyman Youth Theatre. Some of his early professional acting work includes One Summer (his film debut), Drowning by Numbers, and of course, he was Little John in Robin Hood in 1991.
Michael Rooker is one of 9 children in his family. When his mother and father divorced, he moved with his mother to Chicago, Illinois where he studied at the Goodman School of Drama. He landed his first film role as he was working in a play. The director was set to work on prosthetics for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and decided to tell Rooker about the film. Rooker apparently didn’t care if the script was good or bad, he just accepted the role because he wanted to challenge himself. His role in that film wound up being the spark that got him noticed in the film industry and led to many future roles.
In the early 1970s Jeffrey DeMunn moved to England and received theatrical training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He came back stateside fairly soon and performed in a Royal Shakespeare Company National Tour's production of King Lear and A Midsummer Night's Dream. This led him to work on off-Broadway productions, including Bent and Modigliani. Some of his early film work includes The Last Tenant, Sanctuary of Fear, and King Crab.
Irone Singleton is actually Robert Singleton, born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from the University of Georgia, where he majored in Speech Communication and Theatre. He later played on the Georgia Bulldogs football team. Some of his earliest film work includes Fled, Remember the Titans, Dead Wait, and The Longest Yard. One Tree Hill fans might recognize him as a homeless man that Dan Scott speaks to.