From Small Screen to Silver Screen
Television has long been a proving ground for future film stars. While some achieve instant movie stardom, others needed years of TV roles before making the leap to major motion pictures. Many of today’s hottest movie stars actually got their start on the small screen.
Let’s take a look at some of today’s highest-paid, most acclaimed actors who can trace their success back to humble television beginnings. From comedy sitcoms to gritty dramas, these stars leveraged their small screen credentials to become some of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood. Their stories demonstrate how TV fame can launch major movie stardom.
Before becoming a huge movie star, George Clooney played Dr. Doug Ross on the hit medical drama ER from 1994 to 1999. His TV fame helped launch his film career that includes acclaimed movies like Out of Sight, Ocean’s Eleven, Michael Clayton, Up in the Air, and Gravity.
Jennifer Aniston is best known for playing Rachel Green on the sitcom Friends from 1994 to 2004. She leveraged her TV stardom into a successful movie career with films like The Good Girl, Bruce Almighty, Marley & Me, Horrible Bosses, and Cake.
Before becoming an Oscar-winning actress and Hunger Games heroine, Jennifer Lawrence got her start on TV. She played a rebellious teenager on The Bill Engvall Show from 2007 to 2009. The sitcom role helped showcase her talent and set her up for breakout movie roles like Winter’s Bone and the X-Men films.
Melissa McCarthy starred in the hit comedy series Gilmore Girls and Mike & Molly before becoming a major film star. She broke out with her scene-stealing role in Bridesmaids and has since starred in popular movies like Spy, The Heat, Ghostbusters, and Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Leonardo DiCaprio got his start on TV shows like Growing Pains and Santa Barbara in the early 1990s. He then transitioned to iconic film roles in movies like Titanic, Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator, The Departed, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and The Revenant.
Scarlett Johansson landed early TV roles on Manny and Greg the Bunny before becoming a top Hollywood actress. She’s starred in Lost in Translation, Match Point, The Avengers films, Her, Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit.
Jessica Chastain guest-starred on ER and Veronica Mars before becoming an acclaimed movie actress. Her extensive filmography includes Zero Dark Thirty, The Help, Interstellar, The Martian, and Molly’s Game.
Kerry Washington earned recognition for her roles on shows like Boston Legal and Scandal. She leveraged her TV fame into major movie roles including Django Unchained, MotherFatherSon, and The Last King of Scotland. Washington is now considered one of Hollywood’s most versatile leading actresses.
Donald Glover rose to fame writing for 30 Rock and starring on Community. He parlayed his TV credentials into an impressive film career with roles in Magic Mike XXL, The Martian, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and as the young Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story.