Celebrity Gap Years Before They Were Famous
Not even the stars can handle all work and no play…
We’ve all been tempted by the idea of dropping all our responsibilities and flying off to some remote part of the world to discover ourselves, and celebrities are no different.
It might seem like they lead perfect lives now, but no doubt taking a year (or more) out has made them into the stars they are today!
Whether gaining valuable experience, studying abroad or travelling across the seven continents, you might be surprised by who put taking a little time out above fame and success.
A true icon ever since her breakthrough into the acting world as the fierce Hermione Granger, she spent her pre-university gap year at fashion brand People Tree designing an ethically-sourced clothing range.
A couple of years ago, she then announced that she’d be taking a break from acting to focus on reading and studying gender and feminism to help her advance her HeForShe campaign.
Could we love Emma Watson any more than we already do?
You might have seen Gwyneth in her role as Spanish teacher Holly Holliday in hit TV show Glee, but did you know that she really does speak it fluently?
After spending her gap year in a tiny village in Central Spain, she still visits her host family every year and claims that her time as a teenager in Talavera de la Reina, near the historic city of Toledo, changed her life.
As though Bradley Cooper needed any other charming qualities, he also speaks perfect French thanks to his year out in the gorgeous university town of Aix-en-Provence.
He was inspired by the film Chariots of Fire to learn the other official language of the Olympic Games and ended up in one of France’s most idyllic regions.
When the young lads who grew up to be the legendary Beatles left secondary school, they took an opportunity in up-and-coming Hamburg to gain experience as music apprentices.
This modern city has certainly changed a lot since then, but the fantastic music scene and Beatles’ legacy remains, as John Lennon said: “I was born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg”.
Australian Isla Fisher made the journey of a lifetime as a young student when she left for Paris to study Theatre at L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq.
It was here in the City of Lights that she decided to pursue a career in acting, which has taken her even further across the globe.
He might be a worldwide superstar, but we know Mr. Sheeran is as humble as ever – he doesn’t even have a phone – and so it didn’t surprise us when he decided to have a break from his astounding success to go travelling instead.
However, there are some perks to a mid-fame gap year: for Ed, this involved a New Zealand adventure and being strapped to a plane belonging to Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson. As you do.
Way before he became one of the world’s hottest basketball players, Kobe’s family moved to Italy, where he began shooting hoops with adult players aged just 12.
We always knew there was something about that Mediterranean diet…
Our Greatest Showman’s gap year experience – on our very own beloved Blighty, no less – wouldn’t necessarily lead you to think he’d become the incredibly talented and versatile performer he is today.
Pre-Wolverine, he worked as a teaching assistant at a secondary school in Rutland.
Sometimes you even need to escape from Hogwarts – renowned author J.K. Rowling spent several years in the enchanting city of Porto teaching English as a foreign language.
Rumour has it that this is where the magical creation of the Harry Potter series materialized, which goes to show that feeling homesick might actually have some benefits!
Following in her father’s footsteps (President Obama’s gap year included trips to India, Kenya, and Bali), Malia Obama mixed business with pleasure by improving her Spanish, working first at the US Embassy in Madrid and then going on to explore the sights and history of Bolivia and Peru before beginning her studies at Harvard.
It was the lively cobbled streets of Dublin that called to actress Olivia Wilde, who studied performance at the Gaiety School.
Born and raised between New York and Washington D.C., she stayed true to her Irish roots after spending summers in County Waterford.
She was accepted to college in the States but deferred three whole times to continue her acting career instead.
The Duke of Cambridge had no qualms about interrupting his studies to gain alternative experience.
He spent his gap year in Belize training with the Welsh Guards and teaching English in Chile, before starting at St. Andrews and, of course, meeting Kate.
He also returned to university later to take on further studies in agriculture. You can’t say the Royals don’t know how to keep busy!
Just like her future husband, the Duchess of Cambridge took a year out before embarking upon university life in Scotland to embrace Italian culture in the artistic haven of Florence, Tuscany.
She studied the history of art and literature as well as enjoying Florence’s young and vibrant nightlife scene – including supposedly a short-lived romance pre-Wills.
YouTube sensations JacksGap, the online alias of identical twins Jackson and Finnegan Harries, managed to pay for their entire gap year escapades – in Thailand, no less – thanks to the popularity of their videos.
As well as managing to holiday in Ibiza and travel to India, the boys enjoyed massive internet success before heading to uni. That’s certainly an alternative to your typical gap year job…
After finishing school, the star of Sherlock is thought to have saved up in order to travel to Darjeeling, India, teaching English to monks in a Tibetan monastery.
Perhaps that’s how one of the UK’s most recognisable faces learned to keep his cool in the spotlight!
Featuring in Forbes’ list of highest paid models, having Taylor Swift as a best friend and being a Victoria’s Secret angel is all well and good, but Karlie Kloss didn’t get there by chance – in between graduating high school and starting college, she took a gap year to pursue her modelling career (which appears to have been worth it).
She eventually began and completed her studies at New York University and now also runs an educational non-profit, Kode with Klossy.