Some stars even got their start working for Disney — many of whom you probably had no idea about!
When it comes to stars associated with Disney, there are plenty of obvious ones who have come to be synonymous with characters, movies, and even rides. We’re looking at you Tom Hanks, aka Sheriff Woody! And honestly, our favorite role EVER for Dame Judi Dench is as narrator of Spaceship Earth.
But then there are the stars whose Disney origins go WAY back! Aside from the ICONIC and well-known performers from The Mickey Mouse Club like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Justin Timberlake, there are plenty of other stars who first broke into the biz via Disney too!
Here are 10 celebrities who you DIDN’T know started out on Disney!
It might be hard to imagine the star of The Notebook as being on The Mickey Mouse Club, but Ryan Gosling has proven to be QUITE the career chameleon!
Before he was racking up Oscar nominations for heavy-hitting movies like Blue Valentine and La La Land, he was performing right alongside Britney Spears! 13 years old at the time, he was on the show from 1993-94, before branching out with other nostalgic tween fare like Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Nowadays, Olivia Rodrigo is one of the MOST popular new musical talents — did you see her win those Grammys this year?! She’s also CLEARLY a Disney fan, considering she has a documentary film on Disney+!
But pre-“Drivers License” and pre-radio domination, she had a role on the Disney Channel series Bizaardvark, followed by a role on the much more well known High School Musical: The Musical: The Series!
Starring in mega-movies like Dune and Spider-Man has made Zendaya one of the most prolific young superstars of our time. But she wasn’t born playing Mary Jane Watson!
In fact, Zendaya’s first role was playing Rocky Blue in the Disney series Shake It Up, followed by the Disney Channel movie, Frenemies!
This young starlet has emerged as one of the most dynamic multi-talented actresses on the scene, earning acclaim for shows and movies as diverse as Heroes, Nashville, and Scream 4!
Before all that, though, her first foray into film was with Disney voice acting! She got her start as the adorable lil’ Dot in A Bug’s Life, followed by the voice of Suri in Dinosaur! Can we please get Hayden Panettiere incorporated into the Dinosaur ride some how? Please?!
As one of the stars of Beverly Hills, 90210, Jason Priestley has become synonymous with Americana teen heartthrobs at their cultural PEAK.
That role — and that series — was so gargantuan, that it overshadows the fact that he initially got his start acting in the Disney Channel series Teen Angel. A pretty far cry from 90210, this short-lived 1989 series starred Priestley as a teenager who died in a car crash, but comes back as a guardian angel.
Keri Russell is someone who has always come back to Disney. From Felicity to Mission: Impossible III, her resume runs the gamut of TV, movies, action, adventure, and romance!
But it all started when she was a Mouseketeer at the age of 15, staring on The Mickey Mouse Club in 1991! She went on to star in Disney’s Honey, I Blew Up The Kid as one of her first movie roles, and lately she’s come full circle with a brief (but THRILLING) appearance in Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker!
Before she was getting Oscar noms for playing Princess Diana, before she was canoodling vampires in Twilight, and even before she broke out in a HUGE way in Panic Room, Kristen Stewart was on Disney!
Sure, it was a small role, but technically Stewart’s first on-screen work came as a background character, “girl in the fountain line” lol, in 1999’s The Thirteenth Year on Disney Channel! Although it wasn’t technically produced by Disney, she also famously starred as live-action Snow White in the gritty origin story, Snow White and the Huntsman!
Here’s one you may have forgotten! Considering her varied — and, umm, colorful — career in the spotlight, from Mean Girls to Freaky Friday, Lindsey Lohan’s breakthrough movie might have slipped your mind…
…a little thing called The Parent Trap! Not only was she the star of it, but she basically starred in in TWICE, as both Annie and Hallie in the remake of the Disney classic!
Most of us know and love Katherine Heigl for Grey’s Anatomy, Knocked Up, and a whole SLEW of pitch-perfect rom-coms!
However, before she was the rom-com queen, she played a high schooler in the 1996 Disney TV movie, Wish Upon a Star! Based on the movie’s tagline “I Wish I May, I Wish I Might, Become My Sister For A Night,” it was basically a Freaky Friday for sisters, wherein Heigl swaps bodies with her sister after wishing upon a star!
Working alongside ANOTHER Disney legend, Joe Jonas, Demi Lovato’s showbiz break-through was in the 2008 TV movie Camp Rock.
From 2007 to 2008, too, Lovato also played Charlotte Adams on the Disney Channel series As the Bell Rings! Fun fact: Before Disney, Demi was one of the kids on Barney & Friends. Look how far they’ve come!
Clearly, beyond the popular Disney icons, many stars actually have surprising roots with the company! From short-lived TV series to underrated movies, they helped pave the way for success and stardom in more ways than one!
Which actor do you MOST associate with Disney? Let us know in the comments!