Entertainment The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps  

Robert Wabash
24.6k votes 2.1k voters 137k views 85 items

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
775 206
Morgan Freeman is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Another World (1982-84)
2
646 209
Leonardo DiCaprio is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Santa Barbara (1990)
3
780 279
Jensen Ackles is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Benjamin Dunn added Days of Our Lives (1998-2002)
4
545 191
Tommy Lee Jones is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
One Life to Live (1971-75)
5
446 167
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Guiding Light (1966)
6
461 184
Brad Pitt is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Another World (1987)
7
436 191
Tom Selleck is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
The Young and the Restless (1974-75)
8
259 80
Chris Hemsworth is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Home and Away (2004-07)
9
393 171
Kevin Bacon is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Search for Tomorrow (1979), Guiding Light (1980-81)
10
372 158
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
As the World Turns (1985-88)
11
358 171
John Stamos is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
General Hospital (1982-84)
12
333 158
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Search for Tomorrow (1972)
13
313 160
Sarah Michelle Gellar is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
All My Children (1993-95)
14
167 53
Heath Ledger is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Roar, Home and Away, Ship to Shore
15
300 154
Meg Ryan is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
As the World Turns (1982)
16
300 158
Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
One Life to Live (1973-76)
17
257 127
Shemar Moore is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
JimJennings added Criminal Minds, The Young and the Restless, Birds of Prey
18
325 180
Nathan Fillion is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
One Life to Live (1994-97)
19
269 140
Ray Liotta is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Another World (1980-81)
20
267 145
Marisa Tomei is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
As the World Turns (1984)
21
230 124
Josh Duhamel is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Fanboy & Chum Chum, Las Vegas, All My Children
22
130 42
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
MarybethKramer added American Horror Story, Six Feet Under, NYPD Blue
23
255 146
Courteney Cox is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Friends, Family Ties, Cougar Town
24
221 130
Viggo Mortensen is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Search for Tomorrow, Filmland, Cinema 3
25
205 140
Hayden Panettiere is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Heroes, Nashville, Malcolm in the Middle