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11 Best Film Actors Who Became Famous on TV First (2023)

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Here’s an exciting rundown of renowned film actors who skyrocketed to fame on TV, as acknowledged by experts and fans alike. These actors took various paths to success, with some starting in the captivating world of theater and others in the glamorous realm of modeling. Many exceptional actors, however, kick-start their careers on television.

Television used to be the ultimate gateway to silver screen stardom, and in some ways, it still holds true. Nowadays, though, we witness film actors like the incredible Steve Buscemi and the extraordinary Laura Dern achieving tremendous triumph on popular TV shows. Before the advent of cable and high-quality programming, actors had to toil away on low-rated sitcoms and average dramas, waiting for that one movie script to launch them into the stratosphere of superstardom. However, there are instances when an actor attains colossal worldwide fame through television, which effortlessly paves the way for spectacular film roles.

This fascinating list features some of the greatest actors who first captured the spotlight on TV, including the legendary Tom Hanks, the charismatic George Clooney, and the iconic Clint Eastwood. It might astonish the younger generations of film and TV fans to discover that Denzel Washington began his journey as a cast member on the beloved series “St. Elsewhere,” or that the Academy Award-winning actress Melissa Leo starred in the gripping drama “Homicide: Life On The Streets.” Perhaps this compilation will inspire them to dive into a few vintage episodes on Netflix.

Indulge in this collection of top-notch actors who shot to TV fame before conquering the silver screen, and feel free to appreciate their incredible journeys. If your beloved TV-turned-film actors are missing, don’t hesitate to include them so that others can celebrate them.

Note: Kristen Wiig is the most intriguing actor on this list.

1. Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis

Moonlighting (1985-1989)

2. Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp

21 Jump Street (1987-1991)

3. Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington

St. Elsewhere (1982-1988)

4. Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox

Family Ties (1982-1989)

5. Woody Harrelson

Woody Harrelson

Cheers (1985-1993)

6. George Clooney

George Clooney

ER (1994-1999)

7. Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood

Rawhide (1959-1966)

8. Danny DeVito

Danny DeVito

Taxi (1978-1983)

9. Will Smith

Will Smith

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)

10. Bill Murray

Bill Murray

Saturday Night Live (1977-1980)

11. Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey

In Living Color (1990-1994)

Michael Bennett
Michael Bennett
With over 5 years of experience, Michael Bennett is an experienced entertainment blogger recognized for straightforward reviews. His research expertise and thoughtfully crafted blog posts make him a source for readers seeking movie and tv show recommendations.


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