The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps People In TV

The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

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List Criteria: 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
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  1. 1
    + 486
    - 99

    The Twilight Zone, Another World, Madam Secretary

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  2. 2
    + 404
    - 91
    Tommy Lee Jones is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Tommy Lee Jones Lonesome Dove, The Executioner's Song

  3. 3
    + 398
    - 122

    Roseanne, Growing Pains, Santa Barbara

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  4. 4
    + 324
    - 97
    James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    James Earl Jones The Simpsons, Merlin, Jesus of Nazareth

  5. 5
    + 333
    - 102
    Tom Selleck is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Tom Selleck Blue Bloods, Magnum, P.I.

  6. 6
    + 300
    - 103
    Kevin Bacon is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Kevin Bacon The Following, Bored to Death, The Closer

  7. 7
    + 279
    - 95
    Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Julianne Moore As the World Turns, Game Change, I'll Take Manhattan

  8. 8
    + 275
    - 101
    John Stamos is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    John Stamos Full House, ER, General Hospital

  9. 9
    + 296
    - 116

    Freedom: A History of Us, His Way, Glory Days (1990)

    ;
  10. 10
    + 257
    - 101
    Jensen Ackles is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    added by Benjamin Dunn
    Jensen Ackles Supernatural, Smallville, Dawson's Creek

  11. 11
    + 238
    - 102
    Sarah Michelle Gellar is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ringer, The Crazy Ones

  12. 12
    + 243
    - 106
    Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 12 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

  13. 13
    + 195
    - 77

    added by JimJennings
    Criminal Minds, The Young and the Restless, Birds of Prey

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  14. 14
    + 241
    - 109
    Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Laurence Fishburne Hannibal, black-ish, Pee-wee's Playhouse

  15. 15
    + 266
    - 129

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Castle

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  16. 16
    + 213
    - 93
    Ray Liotta is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Ray Liotta Another World, Smith, Our Family Honor

  17. 17
    + 237
    - 110

    Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief, Wildside, One ...

    ;
  18. 18
    + 209
    - 93
    Ian McKellen is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    added by persongee
    Ian McKellen Coronation Street, Vicious, The Prisoner Started of in Coronation street back in the day. (British ongoing tv drama)

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  19. 19
    + 200
    - 91

    Love of Life, Faerie Tale Theatre, The Carol Burnett Show (1991)

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  20. 20
    + 212
    - 101
    Marisa Tomei is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Marisa Tomei Seinfeld, A Different World, Game Over

  21. 21
    + 181
    - 81

    Fanboy & Chum Chum, Las Vegas, All My Children

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  22. 22
    + 189
    - 98
    Courteney Cox is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Courteney Cox Friends, Family Ties, Cougar Town

  23. 23
    + 100
    - 32

    added by dee123
    Home and Away, Guinevere Jones

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  24. 24
    + 128
    - 63

    added by hiitsjustme
    Full House, 90210, The Edge of Night

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  25. 25
    + 164
    - 93

    Search for Tomorrow, Filmland, Cinema 3

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  26. 26
    + 163
    - 96
    Hayden Panettiere is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Hayden Panettiere Heroes, Nashville, Malcolm in the Middle

  27. 27
    + 159
    - 93

    The Doctors

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  28. 28
    + 61
    - 12
    Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    added by MarybethKramer
    Kathy Bates American Horror Story, Six Feet Under, NYPD Blue

  29. 29
    + 177
    - 111
    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 ...

  30. 30
    + 161
    - 101

    Another World, Zombie Apocalypse, Monday Mornings

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  31. 31
    + 142
    - 87

    Modern Family, Married... with Children, Kick Buttowski: Suburban ...

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  32. 32
    + 143
    - 88

    My Own Worst Enemy, The Forgotten, Breaking In

    ;
  33. 33
    + 65
    - 20

    added by dee123
    Roar, Home and Away, Ship to Shore

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  34. 34
    + 79
    - 36

    added by dee123
    The Elephant Princess

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  35. 35
    + 131
    - 83
    Robin Wright is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Robin Wright House of Cards, Santa Barbara, A TV Dante

  36. 36
    + 148
    - 101
    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. 37
    + 136
    - 98

    Great Performances

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  38. 38
    + 140
    - 102
    Eva Longoria is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    added by ginac02013
    Eva Longoria Desperate Housewives, General Hospital, The Young and the Restless

  39. 39
    + 132
    - 102

    Desperate Housewives, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, ...

    ;
  40. 40
    + 54
    - 26

    added by dee123
    Neighbours, The Late Show, The Young Doctors

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  41. 41
    + 120
    - 92
    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. 42
    + 122
    - 96
    Kelsey Grammer is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Kelsey Grammer Cheers, Frasier, Medium

  43. 43
    + 116
    - 92

    Damages, Secrets and Lies

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  44. 44
    + 47
    - 23
    Amanda Seyfried is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    added by MarybethKramer
    Amanda Seyfried Veronica Mars, Big Love

  45. 45
    + 94
    - 71

    added by hiitsjustme
    Knots Landing, Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, Alice in Wonderland

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  46. 46
    + 122
    - 101

    The Cosby Show, Little Bill, Do No Harm

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  47. 47
    + 45
    - 25

    added by dee123
    The Mentalist, The Guardian, Into the West

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  48. 48
    + 106
    - 92
    Amber Tamblyn is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Amber Tamblyn House, Two and a Half Men, General Hospital

  49. 49
    + 55
    - 38

    added by dee123
    Sleepwalkers, Hey Dad..!, Brides of Christ

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  50. 50
    + 108
    - 103
    Jane Krakowski is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps

    Jane Krakowski 30 Rock, Ally McBeal, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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