actors The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps  

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List Rules Famous Actors Who Got Their Start On Soap Operas

This is a list of the best actors to start their careers on soap operas, as voted on by experts and fans alike. Like the best film actors who got famous on TV first, one can take many routes to become Hollywood stars. Some actors start out on in theatre, while others start out in modeling. Many notable actors though start their careers on daytime soap operas. Famous actors that started on soaps gained credits and notoriety on daytime television so they could move on to land bigger roles. While many of them are now bigshots in Hollywood, to some, they will always just be old soap opera stars. 

Soap operas are a guilty pleasure among many television viewers, whether they are during the daytime or at night. The stories may be far-fetched -- with the dead returning as their own twin and heiresses who have been switched at birth -- and even sexy, with several characters bedding one another at the same time -- but they are nonetheless intriguing escapism. The plots keep viewers glued to their television sets and the acting is larger than life. No one has ever said that a soap opera is boring.

The list contains many notable actors. Actors like Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Pitt, and Sarah Michelle Gellar all appeared on soap operas before moving on in their professional acting career. Latter generations of film and television fans will be surprised to find out a top-notch actor like Kevin Kline and Susan Sarandon got their starts as part of the cast of the long-forgotten "A World Apart"

This answers the question "What actors got their starts on soaps?" and "What actors started out in soap operas?"

Vote for the greatest actors who got their start on soaps. If you don't see your favorite performers on this list, feel free to add them so that other voters could chime in. And when you're done, please check out this list: Best Film Actors Who Got Famous On TV First.

Check out more lists like the actors who became musicians, actors who hate what made them famous, and the most intense method actors in the business
list ordered by

1
614 158
Morgan Freeman is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Morgan Freeman Another World (1982-84)

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2
476 149
Tommy Lee Jones is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Tommy Lee Jones One Life to Live (1971-75)

3
596 216
Jensen Ackles is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Benjamin Dunn added Jensen Ackles Days of Our Lives (1998-2002)

4
499 169
Leonardo DiCaprio is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Leonardo DiCaprio Santa Barbara (1990)

5
386 131
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
James Earl Jones Guiding Light (1966)

6
388 144
Tom Selleck is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Tom Selleck The Young and the Restless (1974-75)

7
362 144
Brad Pitt is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Brad Pitt Another World (1987)

8
339 139
Kevin Bacon is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Kevin Bacon The Following, Bored to Death, The Closer

9
320 130
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Julianne Moore As the World Turns, Game Change, I'll Take Manhattan

10
312 143
John Stamos is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
John Stamos Full House, ER, General Hospital

11
283 133
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Susan Sarandon You Don't Know Jack, Frank Herbert's Dune, Search for Tomorrow

12
251 111
Ian McKellen is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
persongee added Ian McKellen Coronation Street, Vicious, The Prisoner - Started of in Coronation street back in the day. (British ongoing tv drama)

13
272 130
Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Laurence Fishburne Hannibal, black-ish, Pee-wee's Playhouse

14
276 136
Sarah Michelle Gellar is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ringer, The Crazy Ones

15
241 114
Ray Liotta is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Ray Liotta Another World, Smith, Our Family Honor

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16
265 132
Meg Ryan is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Meg Ryan Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief, Wildside, One of the Boys

17
300 159
Nathan Fillion is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Nathan Fillion Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Castle

18
243 126
Marisa Tomei is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Marisa Tomei Seinfeld, A Different World, Game Over

19
226 113
Christopher Reeve is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Christopher Reeve Love of Life, Faerie Tale Theatre, The Carol Burnett Show (1991)

20
217 107
Shemar Moore is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
JimJennings added Shemar Moore Criminal Minds, The Young and the Restless, Birds of Prey

21
147 54
Chris Hemsworth is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Chris Hemsworth Home and Away, Guinevere Jones

22
204 107
Josh Duhamel is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Josh Duhamel Fanboy & Chum Chum, Las Vegas, All My Children

23
221 125
Courteney Cox is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Courteney Cox Friends, Family Ties, Cougar Town

24
111 35
Heath Ledger is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Heath Ledger Roar, Home and Away, Ship to Shore

25
195 110
Viggo Mortensen is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Viggo Mortensen Search for Tomorrow, Filmland, Cinema 3

26
92 26
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
MarybethKramer added Kathy Bates American Horror Story, Six Feet Under, NYPD Blue

27
191 116
Hayden Panettiere is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Hayden Panettiere Heroes, Nashville, Malcolm in the Middle

28
182 117
Kathleen Turner is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Kathleen Turner The Doctors

29
197 134
Demi Moore is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Demi Moore If These Walls Could Talk, Eric B, The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet

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30
164 106
Christian Slater is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Christian Slater My Own Worst Enemy, The Forgotten, Breaking In

31
165 108
Ed O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Ed O'Neill Modern Family, Married... with Children, Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil

32
146 91
Lori Loughlin is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
hiitsjustme added Lori Loughlin Full House, 90210, The Edge of Night

33
179 124
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Ving Rhames Another World, Zombie Apocalypse, Monday Mornings

34
152 103
Robin Wright is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Robin Wright House of Cards, Santa Barbara, A TV Dante

35
88 41
Russell Crowe is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Russell Crowe Neighbours, The Late Show, The Young Doctors

36
167 121
Kyra Sedgwick is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Kyra Sedgwick The Closer, Amazing Stories, Another World

37
154 119
Kevin Kline is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Kevin Kline Great Performances

38
99 63
Liam Hemsworth is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Liam Hemsworth The Elephant Princess

39
157 125
Eva Longoria is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
ginac02013 added Eva Longoria Desperate Housewives, General Hospital, The Young and the Restless

40
145 113
Kelsey Grammer is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Kelsey Grammer Cheers, Frasier, Medium

41
140 111
Angela Bassett is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Angela Bassett American Horror Story, ER, Ryan's Hope

42
150 123
Teri Hatcher is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Teri Hatcher Desperate Housewives, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Capitol

43
76 51
Naomi Watts is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Naomi Watts Sleepwalkers, Hey Dad..!, Brides of Christ

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44
64 40
Amanda Seyfried is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
MarybethKramer added Amanda Seyfried Veronica Mars, Big Love

45
132 116
Ryan Phillippe is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Ryan Phillippe Damages, Secrets and Lies

46
133 124
Phylicia Rashād is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Phylicia Rashād The Cosby Show, Little Bill, Do No Harm

47
104 95
Donna Mills is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
hiitsjustme added Donna Mills Knots Landing, Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, Alice in Wonderland

48
58 46
Simon Baker is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Simon Baker The Mentalist, The Guardian, Into the West

49
116 115
Amber Tamblyn is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Amber Tamblyn House, Two and a Half Men, General Hospital

50
60 53
Isla Fisher is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Isla Fisher Home and Away, Oliver Twist, Paradise Beach