actors The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps  

Robert Wabash
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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
645 161
Morgan Freeman is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Morgan Freeman Another World (1982-84)

50 Famous Actors Who Started in Daytime Soaps The Best Pop Rock Bands & Artists

2
493 152
Tommy Lee Jones is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Tommy Lee Jones One Life to Live (1971-75)

3
632 227
Jensen Ackles is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Benjamin Dunn added Jensen Ackles Days of Our Lives (1998-2002)

4
517 175
Leonardo DiCaprio is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Leonardo DiCaprio Santa Barbara (1990)

5
399 134
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
James Earl Jones Guiding Light (1966)

6
396 151
Tom Selleck is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Tom Selleck The Young and the Restless (1974-75)

7
379 150
Brad Pitt is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Brad Pitt Another World (1987)

8
350 143
Kevin Bacon is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Kevin Bacon The Following, Bored to Death, The Closer

9
332 132
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Julianne Moore As the World Turns, Game Change, I'll Take Manhattan

10
321 149
John Stamos is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
John Stamos Full House, ER, General Hospital

11
295 135
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
259 115
Ian McKellen is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
persongee added Ian McKellen Coronation Street, Vicious, The Prisoner - Started of in Coronation street back in the day. (British ongoing tv drama)

13
284 140
Sarah Michelle Gellar is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ringer, The Crazy Ones

14
276 135
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
272 134
Meg Ryan is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Meg Ryan Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief, Wildside, One of the Boys

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16
247 118
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
303 164
Nathan Fillion is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Nathan Fillion Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Castle

18
158 57
Chris Hemsworth is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Chris Hemsworth Home and Away, Guinevere Jones

19
249 129
Marisa Tomei is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Marisa Tomei Seinfeld, A Different World, Game Over

20
231 116
Christopher Reeve is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Christopher Reeve Love of Life, Faerie Tale Theatre, The Carol Burnett Show (1991)

21
225 112
Shemar Moore is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
JimJennings added Shemar Moore Criminal Minds, The Young and the Restless, Birds of Prey

22
210 110
Josh Duhamel is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Josh Duhamel Fanboy & Chum Chum, Las Vegas, All My Children

23
228 127
Courteney Cox is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Courteney Cox Friends, Family Ties, Cougar Town

24
119 40
Heath Ledger is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Heath Ledger Roar, Home and Away, Ship to Shore

25
100 29
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
MarybethKramer added Kathy Bates American Horror Story, Six Feet Under, NYPD Blue

26
197 115
Viggo Mortensen is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Viggo Mortensen Search for Tomorrow, Filmland, Cinema 3

27
194 121
Hayden Panettiere is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Hayden Panettiere Heroes, Nashville, Malcolm in the Middle

28
202 136
Demi Moore is listed (or ranked) 28 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

29
153 92
Lori Loughlin is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
hiitsjustme added Lori Loughlin Full House, 90210, The Edge of Night

The Most Horrible TV Character Personalities Ever The Best Things About Fall

30
183 121
Kathleen Turner is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Kathleen Turner The Doctors

31
167 109
Christian Slater is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Christian Slater My Own Worst Enemy, The Forgotten, Breaking In

32
169 111
Ed O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Ed O'Neill Modern Family, Married... with Children, Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil

33
183 127
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Ving Rhames Another World, Zombie Apocalypse, Monday Mornings

34
93 43
Russell Crowe is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Russell Crowe Neighbours, The Late Show, The Young Doctors

35
156 107
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
170 124
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
150 115
Kelsey Grammer is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Kelsey Grammer Cheers, Frasier, Medium

38
102 67
Liam Hemsworth is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Liam Hemsworth The Elephant Princess

39
145 112
Angela Bassett is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Angela Bassett American Horror Story, ER, Ryan's Hope

40
160 128
Eva Longoria is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
ginac02013 added Eva Longoria Desperate Housewives, General Hospital, The Young and the Restless

41
155 123
Kevin Kline is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Kevin Kline Great Performances

42
154 124
Teri Hatcher is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Teri Hatcher Desperate Housewives, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Capitol

43
79 54
Naomi Watts is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Naomi Watts Sleepwalkers, Hey Dad..!, Brides of Christ

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44
136 117
Ryan Phillippe is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Ryan Phillippe Damages, Secrets and Lies

45
65 44
Amanda Seyfried is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
MarybethKramer added Amanda Seyfried Veronica Mars, Big Love

46
135 126
Phylicia Rashād is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
Phylicia Rashād The Cosby Show, Little Bill, Do No Harm

47
106 96
Donna Mills is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
hiitsjustme added Donna Mills Knots Landing, Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, Alice in Wonderland

48
118 116
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
60 48
Simon Baker is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Simon Baker The Mentalist, The Guardian, Into the West

50
64 53
Isla Fisher is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Actors to Start Their Careers on Soaps
dee123 added Isla Fisher Home and Away, Oliver Twist, Paradise Beach