50 TV Stars Turned Movie Stars

Busting out of the box

Morgan Freeman

The TV Show: Before he became the gravitas-laden voice of wisdom, Morgan Freeman enjoyed success on The Electric Company , a comedy variety show for kids in which he played a range of characters including Vincent The Vegetable Vampire and cool hipster Easy Reader.

The Breakout Movie: Freeman was never really hard up for work, with a string of credits to his name immediately after The Electric Company , but it took 12 years for him to come into the spotlight with Driving Miss Daisy .

Any Similarities: Unless there’s a deleted scene somewhere in which his chauffeur Hoke Coburn adopted hippy attire, sunglasses and a free love attitude, it’s safe to say that Morgan Freeman has safely avoided being typecast.

Colin Farrell

The TV Show: The swearing, drinking, tough-guy actor started off his career in gentle Irish drama Ballykissangel . It’s like finding out that The Rock was once in Little House On The Prairie .

The Breakout Movie: A surprising big blockbuster role in Minority Report opposite Tom Cruise seemed to come out of nowhere, but it was one-man, one-location drama Phone Booth that really helped to put him on the map.

Any Similarities: No. There weren’t many futuristic future-prediction technology or snipers in Ballykissangel.

Michelle Williams

The TV Show: Early roles in the likes of Baywatch, Lassie and Home Improvement preceded her biggest TV break: playing Jen in Dawson’s Creek . She may not have been the one climbing through windows or involved in a love triangle with Pacey and/or Dawson, but Williams always impressed with her more emotional scenes and heavier storylines.

The Breakout Movie: Films roles came and went in the form of Perfume, The Station Agent and Prozac Nation but none of them really stuck for Williams until Brokeback Mountain . From then on, it was critically-acclaimed success all the way (well, for the most part).

Any Similarities: From teen tearaway in weepy telly show to period drama about a forbidden love. It all feels so close, yet so far removed from the days of Dawson.

Seth Rogen

The TV Show: Rogen’s very first foray into acting was in Judd Apatow’s high-school ensemble show Freaks and Geeks , in which he played bitingly sarcastic Ken Miller.

The Breakout Movie: After a surprising bit-part as a school bully in Donnie Darko , and a less surprising bit-part in Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy , Rogen moved up the career ladder with a bigger role in The 40-Year-Old Virgin before hitting big time with Knocked Up , an unprecedented adult comedy success.

Any Similarities: Absolutely, Rogen has been riding the semi-improvisational comedy wave ever since Apatow gave him his first break.

Jessica Alba

The TV Show: While most people will know Jessica Alba’s big telly break to be cult sci-fi show Dark Angel , she actually enjoyed success before that with a reboot of Flipper .

The Breakout Movie: Her first major movie role was the questionable dance movie Honey in 2003, but huge commercial success came two years later with a string of releases: Sin City, Fantastic Four and Into The Blue .

Any Similarities: These big films understandably have more in common with her Dark Angel series than ‘the one where she swam with a dolphin’, but we have a feeling there’ll be yet another Flipper remake somewhere down the line so who knows if she’ll get involved then?

Pierce Brosnan

The TV Show: Following several small roles in various TV shows, Brosnan was welcomed by telly audiences in the guise of Remington Steele , a suave and sophisticated thief posing as a detective, with real female detective Laura Holt by his side at all times. The hugely popular show ran for five seasons from 1982 to 1987.

The Breakout Movie: Notable roles in The Lawnmower Man and Mrs Doubtfire paved the way for the role that Remington Steele always seemed to prepare him for: playing James Bond in GoldenEye .

Any Similarities: Absolutely. The cool, elegant Remington Steele is so reminiscent of superspy 007 that Brosnan was very nearly cast ahead of Timothy Dalton before shooting schedules intervened at that time.

Mike Myers

The TV Show: Right at the start of his career, Mike Myers moved to the UK in 1985 and formed a comedy group based at The Comedy Store in London. From there, he landed a gig appearing on the children’s TV show Wide Awake Club where he spoofed the show’s usual loud, raucous behaviour with his own ‘Sound Asleep Club’ segment.

The Breakout Movie: Of course it was Wayne’s World , a film developed from a regular sketch shown on Saturday Night Live that spawned a dozen catchphrases and made Myers a hugely bankable star. At least until The Love Guru .

Any Similarities: Myers own brand of oddball comedy shines through both his stint on TV and his film characters. In fact, it’s so similar, it’s a wonder he never started his Sound Asleep Club segment with a shout of ‘Party on!’.

Jennifer Garner

The TV Show: Garner had starring roles in long-forgotten shows Significant Others and Time Of Your Life , but it wasn’t until Alias , in which she played kick-ass espionage agent Sydney Bristow, that she made it big.

The Breakout Movie: A small part in Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can certainly didn’t harm her career, but it was her ill-advised role as Elektra in Daredevil that would count as her first big box-office credit. She fared better afterwards with 13 Going On 30 , and that’s saying something.

Any Similarities: Both are big action-packed parts with lots of leggy kicking so it’s easy to see how Garner suited the role. 13 Going On 30 , however, is a clear attempt to try something different and, for the most part, it worked. Following her own Elektra spin-off movie, Garner has apparently sworn off action roles as a result.

Tommy Lee Jones

The TV Show: It’s hard to imagine that the grump-faced Oscar winner ever slummed it on the small screen but, from the late 70s and throughout the 80s, Tommy Lee Jones had several telly parts and TV movie roles, including a major role in mini-series Lonesome Dove and a bit part in soap One Life To Live .

The Breakout Movie: Following a part in JFK , Tommy Lee Jones played the major villain in Under Siege , but he only really became a household name after winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his turn as US Marshal Samuel Gerard in The Fugitive .

Any Similarities: It’s hard to say considering his extensive-but-spotty TV career, but we’ll go out on a limb and say that he has ALWAYS been the craggy-cheeked voice of authority. Purely because we can’t imagine him any other way.

Johnny Depp

The TV Show: Even after small roles in A Nightmare On Elm Street and Platoon , Johnny Depp only really hit the big-time when he became a heartthrob in 21 Jump Street , playing undercover cop Officer Tom Hanson.

The Breakout Movie: Clearly desperate to shed the sex symbol image, Depp chose the most bizarre role he could find with which to venture into movies: Edward Scissorhands . But it worked, not only cementing his status as a bonafide film star but beginning a prosperous partnership with frequent collaborator Tim Burton.

Any Similarities: None. Unless you count the fact that they are both male. But otherwise, none.