Sure, George Clooney is a huge movie star now. But do you remember when he was the mulleted George Burnett on “Facts of Life” or Booker Brooks on “Roseanne” or hunky Dr. Doug Ross on “ER”? Clooney isn’t the only big-screen star to get his start on television. Here are ten more stars who started on the small screen:
Before starring in movies like Fantastic Four, Sin City, and Valentine’s Day, Jessica Alba played Jessica on Nickelodeon’s “The Secret World of Alex Mack”. She was the popular girl who competed with Alex for the affections of cute guy Scott. After that, she played Maya on a remake of “Flipper” and, even after appearing in Never Been Kissed and Idle Hands, she starred as Max on “Dark Angel” before leaving TV behind to focus on a film career.
The indie darling who’s been nominated for three Academy Awards got her start playing new girl-turned-bad girl Jen Lindley on “Dawson’s Creek”. During her six seasons on the show, she appeared in a few films, but hit it big after costarring in Brokeback Mountain. She’s since earned accolades for her performances in Wendy and Lucy, Blue Valentine, Shutter Island, and My Week With Marilyn. In addition to her Oscar nominations, she’s won a Critics Choice Award for Brokeback Mountain and her role as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn netted her film critics awards from Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Florida, Hollywood, Palm Desert, Washington D.C., Toronto, and Vancouver, as well as an Independent Spirit Award and a Golden Globe. She is still best friends with “Creek” costar Busy Phillips.
Part of the Judd Apatow universe, Seth Rogen became a household name due to his roles in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, and Pineapple Express; however, he got his star on two Apatow-produced TV shows: “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared”. Both shows have developed a cult following after being cancelled after just one season each, and in 2011 the casts reunited at PaleyFest. Other stars who appeared on “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared” include James Franco, Jason Segel, and Charlie Hunnam.
The Hangover star Bradley Cooper, also known as People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, was heating up TV screens back in 2001 as Will Tippin on “Alias”. He also appeared on “Jack & Bobby” and “Touching Evil”, and starred in the short-lived “Kitchen Confidential” even after appearing in Wedding Crashers and Failure to Launch. Since leaving TV behind, Cooper has starred or co-starred in Yes Man, He’s Just Not That Into You, Valentine’s Day, The A-Team, as well as The Hangover and its sequel. A third Hangover is in the works, and his new film The Words is in theaters now.
When Ryan Gosling isn’t breaking up street fights, saving old ladies, and making basically everyone swoon, he makes movies. Pretty good movies. But back in the nineties he was all about TV, starring in “Breaker High”, “Young Hercules”, and even “The Mickey Mouse Club” alongside Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. While the others went on to have successful singing careers, Ryan became a bona fide movie star whose credits include Murder by Numbers, The Notebook, Lars and the Real Girl, Blue Valentine, Drive, Crazy, Stupid, Love, and The Ides of March. It’s a safe bet his star won’t be fading anytime soon.
The sexy-funny guy you know as Van Wilder, Deadpool, and The Green Lantern, used to star in a Canadian teen show called “Fifteen” and a comedy called “Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place” (remember that show?). A year after “Two Guys” ended, Ryan broke out as the charming jerk Van Wilder, moving on to star in Blade: Trinity, Just Friends, Definitely, Maybe, Adventureland, The Proposal, and The Change-Up.
She of the long red hair recently won an Emmy for her performance as Sarah Palin in “Game Change”, and Julianne Moore is no stranger to television. In the eighties and nineties she appeared in several TV movies and had an 18-episode stint on “As the World Turns” before foraying into film. She earned accolades for her performance in Boogie Nights and has since appeared in The Big Lebowski, Magnolia, Hannibal, The Hours, Chloe, The Kids Are All Right, and Crazy, Stupid, Love. She has been nominated for four Academy Awards and five Golden Globes.
The funnyman star of Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Good Will Hunting earned his stripes on TV. From 1978-1982 he starred as Mork on the “Happy Days” spinoff “Mork and Mindy”. Nearly twenty years before winning an Academy Award for Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams won an Emmy for “Mork and Mindy”.
Will Smith is one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, with blockbuster hits like Men In Black, Independence Day, Hitch, and Ali, but back in the nineties he spent six seasons delighting audiences as the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. He was so popular from television that it wasn’t hard for him to transition into film – he had a built-in audience excited to see what he would do next. He has been nominated for two Oscars, for his work in Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness.
He of the rubber face has made a name for himself playing hysterical weirdos in movies like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, Yes Man and Liar Liar and tackled more dramatic fare like The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I Love You, Philip Morris. But Jim Carrey got his break on TV, starring on “In Living Color” in 1990 alongside David Alan Grier, Tommy Davidson, Jamie Foxx, and half the Wayans family.