What Justin Chambers did before Grey’s Anatomy

Justin Chambers is best known for his role as Alex Karev on the ABC hit series Grey’s Anatomy. He first joined the cast in 2005 and remained an original cast member for more than 15 years – first as a surgical intern at Seattle Grace Hospital and later as one of the hospital’s lead physicians. Over time, viewers really fell in love with Karev and his character’s transformation. Of course, fans were devastated when Chambers announced he was leaving Grey’s Anatomy in 2020.

“This is not a good time to say goodbye to a show and a character that have defined so much of my life over the past 15 years,” the actor said in a statement to Deadline. “However, for some time I’ve hoped to diversify my acting roles and career choices.” Chambers also thanked ABC, Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, his close friends, family and, of course, his fans who cheered him on supported his way. However, he noted “now is the time” to essentially go out there and see what the future holds for his career.

While it may be difficult to think of Chambers outside of Grey’s Anatomy, he had a big career prior to the show that might surprise some.

Justin Chambers had a modeling career before acting

Justin Chambers is no newcomer to the Hollywood scene. According to Us Weekly, Chambers was actually a model for luxury brands like Calvin Klein, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana before becoming an actor. Chambers explained in an interview that he was spotted while vacationing in Paris after a woman approached him about commercials. “Well, I have,” he said. “I ended up living there for a couple of years and making money and travelling. You know, I had a great time.”

Back in December 2018, the actor shared a rare throwback photo from his modeling days in New York City on Instagram. “Me in front of me. Late ’90s Calvin Klein billboard on Houston Street,” he wrote. According to the New York Post, while Chambers was already making a name for himself in the fashion industry, he also aspired to be an actor and found time to take classes at the same time.

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In 1995, he landed his first gig on the television series Another World, and from there he starred in several notable shows and films such as Four Corners, The Wedding Planner, and The Zodiac, to name a few, per IMDb . Though most people know him from Grey’s Anatomy, Chambers returns to where it all began and begins to make a name for himself outside of the series.

Modeling for Calvin Klein opened doors for Justin Chambers

Justin Chambers may have been spotted in the ’90s, but his career came full circle decades later. In 1999, Chambers starred in a black and white Calvin Klein commercial promoting their new men’s fragrance Contradiction. “The scent didn’t do that well, but it did,” Calvin Klein told Interview magazine in 2013. The fashion designer also opened up about his first thoughts upon first seeing Chambers. “I saw a photo of him somewhere that reminded me of a young Marlon Brando,” he said.

Fittingly, the actor debuted his role as Marlon Brando in the Paramount+ limited series The Offer in April 2022 — an in-depth story behind the making of the iconic 1972 film The Godfather, according to the official synopsis. “These are very big shoes to fill,” Chambers told USA Today.

Modeling for Calvin Klein not only opened many doors for Chambers, but also helped him cross paths with the love of his life. According to Closer Weekly, the actor met his wife Keisha Chambers in the early ’90s while she was working as an agency booker and he was modeling for the high-end brand. “Every relationship has its ups and downs, but I’m glad I can go through the ups and downs with her,” he told Good Housekeeping in 2007. “I just feel very fortunate to have found someone who will be my partner on this journey.”