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

The Best Film Actors Who Got Famous on TV First

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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
    + 270
    - 30

    Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Toy Story

    ;
  2. 2
    + 133
    - 76

    Remember the Titans, Glory, Training Day

    ;
  3. 3
    + 184
    - 114

    The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

    ;
  4. 4
    + 140
    - 82

    Aladdin, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society

    ;
  5. 5
    + 80
    - 38

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

    ;
  6. 6
    + 74
    - 34

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

    ;
  7. 7
    + 126
    - 74

    Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack

    ;
  8. 8
    + 85
    - 43

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

    ;
  9. 9
    + 111
    - 63

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

    ;
  10. 10
    + 143
    - 88

    A Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Edward Scissorhands

    ;
  11. 11
    + 127
    - 76

    Pulp Fiction, Die Hard, The Sixth Sense

    ;
  12. 12
    + 77
    - 38

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

    ;
  13. 13
    + 125
    - 75

    Good, Unforgiven, Dirty Harry

    ;
  14. 14
    + 91
    - 49

    American Beauty, Seven, The Usual Suspects

    ;
  15. 15
    + 74
    - 36

    The Princess Bride, Monsters, Inc.

    ;
  16. 16
    + 101
    - 57

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

    ;
  17. 17
    + 89
    - 48

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

    ;
  18. 18
    + 125
    - 78

    Men in Black, Independence Day, Men in Black 3

    ;
  19. 19
    + 76
    - 40

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

    ;
  20. 20
    + 79
    - 46

    My Cousin Vinny, The Wrestler, Crazy

    ;
  21. 21
    + 93
    - 59

    Shrek, Mulan, Beverly Hills Cop

    ;
  22. 22
    + 60
    - 32

    Death Becomes Her, Overboard, Seems Like Old Times

    ;
  23. 23
    + 69
    - 41

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

    ;
  24. 24
    + 88
    - 58

    Django Unchained, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Ray

    ;
  25. 25
    + 85
    - 56

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

    ;
  26. 26
    + 81
    - 54

    Pulp Fiction, Grease, Carrie

    ;
  27. 27
    + 74
    - 48

    Office Space, The Iron Giant, Bruce Almighty

    ;
  28. 28
    + 66
    - 42

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

    ;
  29. 29
    + 58
    - 38

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

    ;
  30. 30
    + 63
    - 43

    Toy Story, Toy Story 3, Toy Story 2

    ;
  31. 31
    + 53
    - 37

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

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  32. 32
    + 59
    - 44

    X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ted, Green Lantern

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  33. 33
    + 59
    - 45

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

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  34. 34
    + 49
    - 36
    ;
  35. 35
    + 69
    - 57

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

    ;
  36. 36
    + 55
    - 44

    Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Prometheus

    ;
  37. 37
    + 12
    - 3

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

    ;
  38. 38
    + 15
    - 6

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

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  39. 39
    + 52
    - 43

    Remember the Titans, The Notebook, Drive

    ;
  40. 40
    + 60
    - 51

    The Departed, Beetlejuice, Pearl Harbor

    ;
  41. 41
    + 61
    - 55

    Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, The Wedding Singer

    ;
  42. 42
    + 54
    - 48

    Moonstruck, The Witches of Eastwick, Stuck on You

    ;
  43. 43
    + 11
    - 4

    added by CraigAlarm
    Forrest Gump, The Princess Bride, Unbreakable

    ;
  44. 44
    + 43
    - 38

    The Karate Kid, Mulan, Midway

    ;
  45. 45
    + 11
    - 5

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

    ;
  46. 46
    + 11
    - 5

    added by CraigAlarm
    Goodfellas, Field of Dreams, Identity

    ;
  47. 47
    + 11
    - 5

    added by CraigAlarm
    Ordinary People, Moon, Flirting with Disaster

    ;
  48. 48
    + 47
    - 44

    Wayne's World, Billy Madison, Tommy Boy

    ;
  49. 49
    + 11
    - 6

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

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  50. 50
    + 49
    - 47

    Do the Right Thing, Bad Boys, Bad Boys II

    ;
77 +

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