50 TV Stars Turned Movie Stars

Chris Hemsworth

The TV Show: Before he became the muscle-bound god of thunder, Chris Hemsworth was the muscle-bound god of um… surfing at Summer Bay, with a regular role on Aussie soap Home And Away .

The Breakout Movie: Well it WOULD have been Cabin In The Woods , if that finished film hadn’t been shelved for a few years before release so, even before Marvel gave him the legendary Mjolnir, our first sight of Hemsworth was as Captain Kirk’s dad, who met his end in the opening scenes of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot.

Any Similarities: Not quite, although for both roles it seems that Hemsworth’s main qualifications were a square jaw and large biceps, so there’s that…

Catherine Zeta Jones

The TV Show: Who can forget Catherine Zeta Jones’ first appearance on our TV screens as Mariette in The Darling Buds Of May ? The show only lasted for three years but it didn’t take her long to make the move to Hollywood afterwards.

The Breakout Movie: Despite a role in critically reviled The Phantom , Zeta Jones made it big with The Mask Of Zorro and Entrapment in quick succession.

Any Similarities: Both big-budget films are worlds away from the twee countryside lifestyle of The Darling Buds Of May , with Zeta Jones playing a much feistier, sassier character in both compared with her sweet, innocent Mariette.

Michael Cera

The TV Show: From the age of just 11, Michael Cera had been appearing in one-off guest spots in various TV shows, but finally got his big break in the wicked-smart Arrested Development as Michael Bluth’s son, George-Michael Bluth.

The Breakout Movie: Cera made the leap to the big screen with a 2007 twofer of Superbad and Juno , both to hugely positive reviews.

Any Similarities: Oh yes. That awkward, stuttering nerdy persona is a character that has dogged Cera throughout his career. In fact, it’s hard to imagine him as anyone else.

Ryan Reynolds

The TV Show: Early recurring roles on little-seen shows Fifteen and The Odyssey paved the way for acclaimed sitcom Two Guys, A Girl And A Pizza Place , in which he starred between 1998 and 2001.

The Breakout Movie: Reynolds followed the show with similar – if more raucous – comedy fare like Van Wilder: Party Liaison , which began his trajectory as the cool, handsome cocky know-it-all.

Any Similarities: Quick-witted fast-talker cracking smartass jokes all the time? If they’re not the same character, they could very well be related.

Olivia Wilde

The TV Show: A major role in short-lived show Skin led to a big part in an important story arc in The O.C ., which saw her Alex Kelly hook up with Mischa Barton’s Marissa Cooper. But her real stand-out telly role was as Thirteen in House , still to this day the only character that ever gave as good as they got back to the miserable, sarcastic doctor.

The Breakout Movie: Having already appeared in several forgettable movies, Olivia Wilde’s first big breakthrough role post- House was in the lamentable Year One . She then followed that with a small role in Russell Crowe’s thriller The Next Three Days before achieving much greater success in dubious sequel TRON: Legacy .

Any Similarities: Wilde’s roles have often seemed to cash in on her sex appeal so it’s surprising for her first major movie role to be a more covered-up, character-based part. In fact, with wide-eyed inexperience and geeky laugh, her Quorra in TRON: Legacy is unlike anything she played before or since.

Isla Fisher

The TV Show: She was a long running character in Australian soap Home And Away , playing Shannon Reed between 1994 and 1997.

The Breakout Movie: Well, her first venture into Hollywood films resulted in smallish parts in Scooby Doo and I Heart Huckabees , but her first real standout performance was that in Wedding Crashers as the daughter of the Treasury Secretary who gets overly attached to Vince Vaughn.

Any Similarities: As Shannon Reed, Fisher was put through the wringer with a string of rebellious storylines and failed romances, but even that couldn't be enough preparation for becoming the unhinged, clingy conquest of Vince Vaughn's put-out womaniser.

Steve Carell

The TV Show: Long before Carell hit the small-screen big-time playing Michael Scott in The Office , he started by playing different characters in The Dana Carvey Show , which led to parts in short-lived sitcoms Over The Top and Watching Ellie .

The Breakout Movie: One brilliant babbling scene in Bruce Almighty put him on a lot of people’s radar but it wasn’t until he stole a lot of the best one-liners in Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy that he really stood out as a comedy talent to watch.

Any Similarities: Definitely yes. Funny voices and stupid characters are Steve Carell’s bread and butter.

Mel Gibson

The TV Show: Mel Gibson practically entered his career as a ready-made movie star, but a few small TV appearances slipped in before he hit the big screen, including a role on World War II set drama The Sullivans .

The Breakout Movie: Just three years later in 1979, Mel rocketed to stardom with Mad Max , the revenge-fuelled Aussie cop hell-bent on vengeance.

Any Similarities: Hardly. The clean-cut young gentleman on The Sullivans doesn’t even look like the same person as the stubble-jawed, leather-clad Max.

Guy Pearce

The TV Show: Pearce’s very first acting gig was as Mike Young on Australian soap Neighbours – a part that he played for four years. Shortly after, he then made the unconventional jump to rival Aussie soap Home And Away , appearing in 18 episodes.

The Breakout Movie: People really started to take notice of Pearce following L.A. Confidential and, shortly after, backwards mind-thriller Memento , but his earliest breakout role has to be that of ‘Felicia Jollygoodfellow’ in The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert .

Any Similarities: Well, Adventures Of Priscilla was still filmed in Pearce’s native Australia, so it’s not hard to see how he made the leap from TV to movies, but other than that there’s not a lot of similarities. Not unless we missed the big ‘Mike Young becomes a crossdresser’ storyline in Neighbours .

James McAvoy

The TV Show: An early role in TV mini-series Children Of Dune is deceptive considering that, in the same year, he regularly appeared on BBC sitcom Early Doors and played a major part in the more acclaimed thriller series State Of Play . But he first came to the attention of most when he gave a star turn in the first two series of Shameless .

The Breakout Movie: Bizarrely, McAvoy followed nasty council-estate comedy drama Shameless with a small goat-legged role in The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe . Luckily, he followed that with the more respectable The Last King Of Scotland , where Hollywood started to really take him seriously.

Any Similarities: Shameless gave McAvoy the opportunity to play the earnest, charismatic bad boy and, although he has mostly stuck to good guy roles since, that same likeability has shown through at every turn. Even with goat legs.