BREAKING NEWS

From The Small Screen To The Big Screen: 21 Actors Who Got Their Big Break On TV Soaps

//celebrities big break tv soap opera photos pp sl

Dec. 1 2015, Updated 12:27 p.m. ET

Link to FacebookShare to TwitterShare to Email

They may be big names now but did you know that many of Hollywood’s most successful actors got their big break in soap operas? Here is a list of a few stars who went from small screen success to big screen glory.

Article continues below advertisement
//celebrities big break tv soap opera photos pp sl

They may be big names now but did you know that many of Hollywood’s most successful actors got their big break in soap operas? Here is a list of a few stars who went from small screen success to big screen glory.

Meg Ryan

//tcdasth_ec
Source: Getty

Back in the ‘90s Meg Ryan shared the crown for America’s Sweetheart with Julia Roberts. But the “When Harry Met Sally” star actually made a name for herself from 1982 to 1984 playing Betsy Stewart in “As The World Turns.” Five years after she left, she was faking an orgasm on the big screen.

Article continues below advertisement

Sarah Michelle Gellar

//
Source: Getty

Before she was Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar played Kendall Hart – the long-lost daughter of Susan Lucci’s character Erica Kane – in All My Children.

Article continues below advertisement

Brad Pitt

//
Source: Getty

Movie fans got their first proper glimpse of Brad Pitt when he played a roguish hitchhiker in the 1991 classic “Thelma & Louise.” But hardcore daytime soap fans would have spotted the actor four years earlier when he made his TV debut in two episodes of “Another World.”

Article continues below advertisement

Demi Moore

//lo
Source: Getty

Yes, Demi Moore was a key player in Hollywood’s Brat Pack. But before she appeared in movie hits like “St. Elmo’s Fire,” she played investigative reporter Jackie Templeton in “General Hospital” in the early 1980s.

Article continues below advertisement

Eva Longoria

//
Source: Getty

Eva Longoria got her break on a couple of daytime soap operas. She made a guest appearance on “General Hospital” in 2000 before joining the cast of “The Young and The Restless” as Isabella Brana in 2001. Eva left the series in 2003 and went on to become a household name by playing Gabrielle Solis in “Desperate Housewives” a year later.

Article continues below advertisement

Ryan Philippe

//
Source: Getty

Ryan Philippe became a household name when he appeared in the movie Cruel Intentions with his future wife – and now ex – wife Reese Witherspoon in 1999. Ryan Philippe became a household name when he appeared in the movie Cruel Intentions with his future wife – and now ex – wife Reese Witherspoon in 1999. But in the early ‘90s the blond actor was better known to “One Life to Live” fans as Billy Douglas – the first gay teen on a daytime soap.

Article continues below advertisement

Josh Duhamel

//amc
Source: Getty

Josh Duhamel is another Hollywood heartthrob who honed his craft in a daytime soap opera. The future “Transformers” star played lovesick Leo du Pres in “All My Children” from 1999 until his character’s death in 2002. When he returned, briefly, in 2011 to appear in a dream sequence he told Entertainment Weekly: “It was just my way of saying thank you to go back and do an episode.”

Article continues below advertisement

Leonardo DiCaprio

//
Source: Getty

Only people of a certain age will remember the now defunct soap Santa Barbara. Back in 1990 former child star Leonardo DiCaprio appeared in one episode of the once popular series.

Article continues below advertisement

Kevin Bacon

//
Source: Getty

The list of movies that Kevin Bacon has been in is astonishing. But before he was cutting a rug in Footloose or keeping fans gripped in Mystic River or his current hit series The Following, he worked on two daytime soaps. In 1979 he appeared in Search For Tomorrow, before appearing in seven Guiding Light episodes in the early ‘80s.

Article continues below advertisement

Marisa Tomei

//
Source: Getty

Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei appeared in two episodes of As the World Turns before she got her real big break, playing opposite Lisa Bonet in the sitcom A Different World.

Article continues below advertisement

Julianne Moore

//
Source: Getty

Clearly As The World Turns was the place to be in the 1980s. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay actress Julianne Moore played two half-sisters – Frannie and Sabrina Hughes – in several episodes of the soap in 1985 and 1986.

Article continues below advertisement

Ray Liotta i

//
Source: Getty

Goodfella Ray Liotta is another daytime soap veteran. He played Joey Perrini in Another World in the early 1980s.

Article continues below advertisement

Susan Sarandon

//
Source: Getty

Back in the 1970s Susan Sarandon appeared in two daytime soaps, Search for Tomorrow and A World Apart.

Article continues below advertisement

Tommy Lee Jones

//
Source: Getty

Tommy Lee Jones is another Oscar winner who has soap under his belt. The No Country for Old Men actor appeared in two episodes of One Life To Live back in the 1970s.

Article continues below advertisement

David Hasselhoff

//
Source: Getty

Former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff has done it all in his career. Not only has he shared a screen with a talking car in Knight Rider, he played a doctor – William ‘Snapper’ Foster – in The Young and the Restless from 1975 to 1982 and again, briefly, in 2010.

Article continues below advertisement

James Earl Jones

//
Source: Getty

Darth Vader was in a soap opera? Really? Yes, James Earl Jones played Dr. Jim Frazier in an episode of Guiding Light back in 1966.

Article continues below advertisement

Cicely Tyson

//
Source: Getty

The Help’s Cicely Tyson briefly played Martha Frazier, the wife of James Earl Jones, in Guiding Light back in the ‘60s.

Article continues below advertisement

Larry Hagman

//dallas
Source: Getty

The late Larry Hagman will forever be associated in our minds with the role of J.R. Ewing in Dallas and as Anthony Nelson in I Dream of Jeannie decades before that. But in 1957 he appeared in the series Search for Tomorrow – a long forgotten soap that went off the air in 1986.

Article continues below advertisement

Christopher Reeve

//
Source: Getty

In the mid-1970s – before he donned the red cape to become Superman – Christopher Reeve played Ben Harper in the series Love of Life.

Article continues below advertisement

Kelsey Grammer

//
Source: Getty

Known around the world as his most popular character Dr. Frasier Crane, Kelsey Grammer actually played a physician long before he stepped into the bar on the sitcom Cheers. In the mid-1980s he briefly played Dr. Canard in Another World.

Article continues below advertisement

Calista Flockhart

//
Source: Getty

Ally McBeal actress Calista Flockhart is another member of the Guiding Light alumni. She appeared in the soap in a 1989 episode.

Advertisement

© Copyright 2022 Radar Media Group LLC. Radar and RadarOnline are registered trademarks. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.