The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First People In Film

The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

By 7.9k votes 709 voters 19k views 76 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Notable Actors Who Made It Big On TV Before Jumping To Movies

This is a list of famous film actors who got famous on TV first, as ranked by experts and fans alike.

There are many routes an actor can take to make it big. Some actors start out on in theatre, while others start out in modeling. Many notable actors though start their careers in television.

Television, at one time, was the main gateway to film stardom. In some ways, it still is but now many film actors, like Steve Buscemi and Laura Dern have gone the other direction and found a very lucrative career on hit TV shows. Before the advent of cable -- and quality programming -- actors had to toil on low-rated sitcoms and mediocre dramas before finding that one movie script that could shoot them to superstardom. But sometimes, the actor finds superstardom on television. Massive, worldwide superstardom that easily parlays into film roles.

Many on this list can be considered the greatest actors who were famous on TV first. Actors like Tom Hanks, George Clooney, and Clint Eastwood. Latter generations of film and television fans will be surprised to find out a top-notch actor like Denzel Washington got his start as one of the cast members of "St. Elsewhere" or that Academy Award-winning actress Melissa Leo was one of the stars of "Homicide: Life On The Streets". Maybe this list will prompt them to Netflix a couple of those old episodes.

Please check out this list of top actors who had TV fame before becoming film stars and rank them. And if you don't see your favorite TV-turned-film actors here, feel free to add them so that others can vote for them.
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  1. 1
    + 424
    - 41

    Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Toy Story

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  2. 2
    + 93
    - 45
    Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Sally Field Forrest Gump, The Amazing Spider-Man, Mrs. Doubtfire

  3. 3
    + 84
    - 39

    Back to the Future, Back to the Future Part II, Mars Attacks!

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  4. 4
    + 131
    - 74

    Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack

    ;
  5. 5
    + 131
    - 76
    Clint Eastwood is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Clint Eastwood Good, Unforgiven, Dirty Harry

  6. 6
    + 140
    - 83
    Denzel Washington is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Denzel Washington Remember the Titans, Glory, Training Day

  7. 7
    + 104
    - 57
    Woody Harrelson is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Woody Harrelson The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, No Country for Old Men

  8. 8
    + 147
    - 90
    Robin Williams is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Robin Williams Aladdin, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society

  9. 9
    + 190
    - 123
    Morgan Freeman is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Morgan Freeman The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

  10. 10
    + 77
    - 37
    Billy Crystal is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Billy Crystal The Princess Bride, Monsters, Inc.

  11. 11
    + 77
    - 37
    James Garner is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    James Garner The Great Escape, The Notebook, Atlantis: The Lost Empire

  12. 12
    + 94
    - 50

    American Beauty, Seven, The Usual Suspects

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  13. 13
    + 133
    - 80

    Pulp Fiction, Die Hard, The Sixth Sense

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  14. 14
    + 117
    - 68

    South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Batman & Robin

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  15. 15
    + 92
    - 49
    Danny DeVito is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Danny DeVito Men in Black, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Batman Returns

  16. 16
    + 82
    - 42
    Dan Aykroyd is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Dan Aykroyd Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

  17. 17
    + 80
    - 41
    Michael Douglas is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Michael Douglas One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct

  18. 18
    + 148
    - 94
    Johnny Depp is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Johnny Depp A Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Edward Scissorhands

  19. 19
    + 132
    - 83
    Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Will Smith Men in Black, Independence Day, Men in Black 3

  20. 20
    + 99
    - 60
    Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Eddie Murphy Shrek, Mulan, Beverly Hills Cop

  21. 21
    + 82
    - 47
    Marisa Tomei is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Marisa Tomei My Cousin Vinny, The Wrestler, Crazy

  22. 22
    + 64
    - 33

    Death Becomes Her, Overboard, Seems Like Old Times

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  23. 23
    + 73
    - 42
    Christopher Lloyd is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Christopher Lloyd Back to the Future, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Who Framed Roger ...

  24. 24
    + 92
    - 59
    Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Ray

  25. 25
    + 90
    - 58
    Jim Carrey is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Jim Carrey Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Batman Forever, Dumb and Dumber

  26. 26
    + 78
    - 48
    Jennifer Aniston is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Jennifer Aniston Office Space, The Iron Giant, Bruce Almighty

  27. 27
    + 87
    - 56

    Pulp Fiction, Grease, Carrie

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  28. 28
    + 69
    - 42
    Steve Carell is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Steve Carell Little Miss Sunshine, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The ...

  29. 29
    + 61
    - 39
    John Belushi is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    John Belushi The Blues Brothers, National Lampoon's Animal House, 1941

  30. 30
    + 65
    - 44
    Tim Allen is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Tim Allen Toy Story, Toy Story 3, Toy Story 2

  31. 31
    + 55
    - 38
    Greg Kinnear is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Greg Kinnear Little Miss Sunshine, As Good as It Gets, We Were Soldiers

  32. 32
    + 62
    - 45

    X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ted, Green Lantern

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  33. 33
    + 62
    - 46

    Chicago, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Stranger than Fiction

    ;
  34. 34
    + 52
    - 37
    ;
  35. 35
    + 20
    - 7
    Michelle Pfeiffer is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    added by CraigAlarm
    Michelle Pfeiffer Scarface, Batman Returns, The Prince of Egypt

  36. 36
    + 59
    - 45

    Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Prometheus

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  37. 37
    + 70
    - 58

    Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Elf, Wedding Crashers

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  38. 38
    + 63
    - 52

    The Departed, Beetlejuice, Pearl Harbor

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  39. 39
    + 54
    - 44
    Ryan Gosling is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Ryan Gosling Remember the Titans, The Notebook, Drive

  40. 40
    + 13
    - 4
    J. K. Simmons is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    added by CraigAlarm
    J. K. Simmons Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

  41. 41
    + 13
    - 5
    Robin Wright is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    added by CraigAlarm
    Robin Wright Forrest Gump, The Princess Bride, Unbreakable

  42. 42
    + 46
    - 39

    The Karate Kid, Mulan, Midway

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  43. 43
    + 62
    - 56
    Adam Sandler is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Adam Sandler Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, The Wedding Singer

  44. 44
    + 14
    - 7
    Chevy Chase is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    added by CraigAlarm
    Chevy Chase Caddyshack, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Vacation

  45. 45
    + 55
    - 49
    Cher is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    Cher Moonstruck, The Witches of Eastwick, Stuck on You

  46. 46
    + 13
    - 6
    Mary Tyler Moore is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    added by CraigAlarm
    Mary Tyler Moore Ordinary People, Moon, Flirting with Disaster

  47. 47
    + 13
    - 6
    Teri Garr is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

    added by CraigAlarm
    Teri Garr Young Frankenstein, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Dumb and Dumber ...

  48. 48
    + 13
    - 6

    added by CraigAlarm
    Goodfellas, Field of Dreams, Identity

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  49. 49
    + 50
    - 45

    Wayne's World, Billy Madison, Tommy Boy

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  50. 50
    + 51
    - 49

    Grown Ups, 50 First Dates, Hitch

    ;
77 +

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