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Hollywood celebrities recall when they were broke
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NEW YORK — Not every actor suffered through lean times on their way up, but origin stories are full of tight-money moments.

Patrick Wilson said recently on the red carpet that he once scraped for change at the Lincoln Tunnel. Greta Gerwig said her bank account was nearly drained when she drove past a Los Angeles movie theater with her face on the marquee.

Rosamund Pike and Kate McKinnon can relate.

“It was lentils every day. Lentils are a gorgeous staple. I still eat a lot of lentils, actually,” said McKinnon, a “Saturday Night Live” cast member who voiced Lupe in “Ferdinand.”

Pike, in “Hostiles” with Christian Bale, remembered a particularly joyful money moment.

“I lived in a house with about five boys when I started out and, yeah, I didn’t have any money, never had taken a taxi,” she said. “Everything was walking, trying to save every penny you had, and I remember when I did get a job and suddenly I thought, ‘I can afford a taxi.’ It was the most incredible feeling.”

Timothee Chalamet is just 23, but the co-star of “Call Me by Your Name” struggled after a small role in “Interstellar” turned out not to be the big break he had expected.

“The year I left college, I was living in the Bronx in New York,” he said. “I had done ‘Homeland’ at that point but a lot of my acting money had gone toward tuition for school, so that was a scary time, and ‘Interstellar’ was coming out. I figured there’d be a lot of roles after that and there wasn’t. That was the scariest time in my life. A first-world problem, but whatever.”

Willem Dafoe, at 62, recalled working lots of jobs in the early years “just to keep a roof over my head,” but the lean times didn’t last long. Besides, he had a safety net.

“I had a family that I knew if I really got in trouble I could go to them, so it wasn’t a real cycle of poverty, but I’ve had a taste of what it’s like not to have money,” said Dafoe, a star of “The Florida Project.”

Wilson, in the upcoming thriller “The Commuter,” was straight out of college and working the ensembles of musicals in Pittsburgh when he amassed about $1,500 for a move to New York City. He loaded up a rental truck with about $4 in cash to spare and off he went.

“This was when the Lincoln Tunnel was about $4 if you were a car — $2 each additional axle,” he explained. “That’s important because my U-Haul truck had an additional axle and we only had $4, so we had to pull over to the little side there and go through change and had to give them change out of my backpack in order to be allowed into New York, so literally my first trip in New York I was scraping for change.”

Gerwig’s tight-money moment came after she appeared in the 2010 film “Greenberg,” a turning point.

“I was staying in L.A. for auditions and I had no money. I had very little in my bank account and I had used the last of it to get a rental car, and I remember driving past a marquee in Los Feliz — there’s a cinema there — and my face was on it and I didn’t have a place to stay that night,” Gerwig said.

Luckily, a family friend offered a place to stay, “then I ended up getting two jobs and then it was fine, but it was that moment of, ‘There I am!’ and ‘Where am I gonna stay tonight?’”

Dermot Mulroney, star of the recent Hallmark holiday movie “The Christmas Train,” is among the lucky ones.

Mulroney always worked, starting with a paper route as a 13-year-old, but “I got a hot start coming out of college and starting a career, so I didn’t really spend grueling months trying to get a foothold or anything like that,” he said.

His father pitched in, offering to pay his rent for a year. He only had to help for two months so, Mulroney smiled, “I’m gonna ask him about that: Are you still good for it?”

Leanne Italie is an Associated Press writer. Associated Press writers Ryan Pearson, Jill Dobson and Brooke Lefferts contributed to this report.

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