We appear to be in a golden age for series television — even if the majority of the most critically acclaimed shows aren’t on conventional TV at all, but are offered by streaming services that can be accessed from computers and mobile devices as well as actual TV sets.
Given the quality of so many shows these days, it’s hardly surprising that movie stars on the order of Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Helen Mirren, Matthew McConaughey, and Don Cheadle have gravitated to the small screen in recent years.
Traditionally, however, it worked the other way: Many actors and actresses who gained fame in films got their start in TV series, then made the jump to movies. In fact, some, like Steve Carrell and Jennifer Aniston, will probably always be best-known for their iconic television roles (in “The Office” and “Friends,” respectively), no matter how many movies they star in. (These are the longest-running prime time shows in history.)
To assemble a list of TV stars who made the jump to movies, 24/7 Tempo reviewed credits for scores of prominent actors and actresses on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon. Only performers whose first major acting credit was on a TV show or TV movie were selected, though some of them may have had uncredited or very minor roles in films before gaining prominence on television.
Click here to see the TV stars who made the jump to movies
Because they played numerous characters instead of one major role, the countless actors and actresses who went on to movie stardom after stints as regulars on “Saturday Night Live” have been omitted from the list. But see our list of the SNL cast members with the most successful movie careers.
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