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

The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

By 8.7k votes 747 voters 21k views 80 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
    + 446
    - 45

    Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Toy Story

    ;
  2. 2
    + 154
    - 85

    Remember the Titans, Glory, Training Day

    ;
  3. 3
    + 96
    - 44

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

    ;
  4. 4
    + 144
    - 79

    Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack

    ;
  5. 5
    + 145
    - 81

    Good, Unforgiven, Dirty Harry

    ;
  6. 6
    + 160
    - 93

    Aladdin, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society

    ;
  7. 7
    + 131
    - 72

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

    ;
  8. 8
    + 102
    - 51

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

    ;
  9. 9
    + 205
    - 126

    The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

    ;
  10. 10
    + 102
    - 52

    American Beauty, Seven, The Usual Suspects

    ;
  11. 11
    + 145
    - 84

    Pulp Fiction, Die Hard, The Sixth Sense

    ;
  12. 12
    + 162
    - 97

    A Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Edward Scissorhands

    ;
  13. 13
    + 113
    - 61

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

    ;
  14. 14
    + 84
    - 40

    The Princess Bride, Monsters, Inc.

    ;
  15. 15
    + 101
    - 53

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

    ;
  16. 16
    + 145
    - 87

    Men in Black, Independence Day, Men in Black 3

    ;
  17. 17
    + 110
    - 63

    Shrek, Mulan, Beverly Hills Cop

    ;
  18. 18
    + 82
    - 42

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

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  19. 19
    + 88
    - 47

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

    ;
  20. 20
    + 84
    - 47

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

    ;
  21. 21
    + 89
    - 52

    Office Space, The Iron Giant, Bruce Almighty

    ;
  22. 22
    + 80
    - 46

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

    ;
  23. 23
    + 97
    - 62

    Pulp Fiction, Grease, Carrie

    ;
  24. 24
    + 98
    - 63

    Django Unchained, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Ray

    ;
  25. 25
    + 96
    - 62

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

    ;
  26. 26
    + 85
    - 53

    My Cousin Vinny, The Wrestler, Crazy

    ;
  27. 27
    + 66
    - 38

    Death Becomes Her, Overboard, Seems Like Old Times

    ;
  28. 28
    + 74
    - 46

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

    ;
  29. 29
    + 72
    - 47

    Toy Story, Toy Story 3, Toy Story 2

    ;
  30. 30
    + 65
    - 44

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

    ;
  31. 31
    + 68
    - 47

    X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ted, Green Lantern

    ;
  32. 32
    + 24
    - 8

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

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  33. 33
    + 58
    - 39
    ;
  34. 34
    + 59
    - 42

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

    ;
  35. 35
    + 20
    - 7

    added by CraigAlarm
    Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

    ;
  36. 36
    + 70
    - 54

    The Departed, Beetlejuice, Pearl Harbor

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  37. 37
    + 65
    - 50

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

    ;
  38. 38
    + 19
    - 8

    added by CraigAlarm
    Goodfellas, Field of Dreams, Identity

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  39. 39
    + 20
    - 9

    added by CraigAlarm
    Forrest Gump, The Princess Bride, Unbreakable

    ;
  40. 40
    + 75
    - 62

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

    ;
  41. 41
    + 20
    - 10

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

    ;
  42. 42
    + 59
    - 48

    Remember the Titans, The Notebook, Drive

    ;
  43. 43
    + 61
    - 50

    Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Prometheus

    ;
  44. 44
    + 19
    - 10

    added by CraigAlarm
    Boogie Nights, Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit

    ;
  45. 45
    + 68
    - 59

    Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, The Wedding Singer

    ;
  46. 46
    + 17
    - 9

    added by CraigAlarm
    Ordinary People, Moon, Flirting with Disaster

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  47. 47
    + 18
    - 11

    added by CraigAlarm
    Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Happy Gilmore, There's Something ...

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  48. 48
    + 58
    - 53

    Moonstruck, The Witches of Eastwick, Stuck on You

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  49. 49
    + 16
    - 10

    added by CraigAlarm
    Top Gun, When Harry Met Sally..., Sleepless in Seattle

    ;
  50. 50
    + 48
    - 43

    The Karate Kid, Mulan, Midway

    ;
81 +

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