50 TV Stars Turned Movie Stars

Jason Segel

The TV Show: Obviously Jason Segel is still enjoying TV success alongside his movie career with How I Met Your Mother , but the rubbery lunk got his big break in Judd Apatow’s Freaks And Geeks , playing friendly, lovable Nick Andopolis.

The Breakout Movie: Just like co-star Seth Rogen, Segel followed Apatow into movies, with a minor part in the huge comedy success Knocked Up before making his own name for himself in Forgetting Sarah Marshall .

Any Similarities: Lots. The character of mild-mannered, affectionate walkover tends to pop up everywhere in Segel’s career and is especially the case in Forgetting Sarah Marshall . The fact is, that his Freaks And Geeks character is played as an extension of himself in real life, and this has then seeped into almost every role of his since.

Michael Douglas

The TV Show: With a vast movie career to his name, it’s easy to forget that Michael Douglas got his first big break playing Inspector Steve Keller in action-drama cop show The Streets Of San Francisco from 1972 to 1976.

The Breakout Movie: Despite starring in several forgettable films since leaving the show, it wasn’t until Romancing The Stone eight years later that Douglas started carving out a respectable movie career for himself.

Any Similarities: Even though Douglas plays a dashing hero in both, Romancing The Stone certainly has more comedy and adventure elements. It wouldn’t be until shortly later in roles like Black Rain and Basic Instinct that Douglas would seem to be channelling his ‘gritty cop’ persona again.

Mila Kunis

The TV Show: Kunis started out with recurring roles in TV shows such as Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher and 7th Heaven , not to mention two very early roles (playing two different characters) in Baywatch . But most remember her pre-film days as Jackie on That 70s Show . Oh, and voicing Meg Griffin on Family Guy of course. Everyone always forgets about Meg Griffin. Even Peter Griffin forgets about Meg Griffin.

The Breakout Movie: Despite already starring in the best-forgotten sequel American Psycho II: All American Girl , Kunis only really hit movie big-time when she co-starred in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall with Jason Segel.

Any Similarities: It’s fair to say that comedy is right in Kunis’s wheelhouse at this point in her career and, although she followed it with playing more dramatic parts in Max Payne and The Book Of Eli , it wouldn’t be until Black Swan before people really took notice of her as a serious actress.

James Franco

The TV Show: Bit-part roles in the likes of Pacific Blue and To Serve And Protect led to a place in Judd Apatow's ensemble comedy show Freaks And Geeks alongside Seth Rogen and Jason Segel.

The Breakout Movie: Franco eventually returned to comedy with his former telly co-star Seth Rogen in Pineapple Express and this year’s This Is The End , but not before breaking out as Peter Parker’s troubled friend Harry Osborne in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy.

Any Similarities: There’s very little in the way of comedy when it comes to Franco’s Harry Osborne. In fact he’s mostly all angst and furrowed brows. But, just as Franco likes to dabble in other areas of the arts, he also likes to keep his options open with movie genres and a return to Freaks And Geeks style comedy is always on the cards.

Jennifer Lawrence

The TV Show: After landing roles on Monk, Cold Case and Medium (in which she appeared in two episodes, playing different characters), Lawrence won a regular part in The Bill Engvall Show , a sitcom about a counsellor and his dysfunctional family. The show was cancelled after three seasons.

The Breakout Movie: That would be Winter's Bone , a gruelling drama that earned Lawrence a Best Actress Oscar nom. Of course, then followed small, little-seen independent films X-Men: First Class and The Hunger Games .

Any Similarities: You wouldn't expect the lead character in Winter's Bone to have a funny bone in her body, so her sitcom roots are quite the surprise. It does, however, make sense considering how funny and down-to-earth Lawrence is in interviews.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

The TV Show: JGL had a string of dalliances in TV, including recurring roles on Dark Shadows , The Powers That Be and Roseanne , but most will remember him as Tommy Solomon in Third Rock From The Sun from 1996 to 2001.

The Breakout Movie: He made the surprising move from alien teenager in a sitcom to gay hustler in tragic drama Mysterious Skin , followed by protagonist in Rian Johnson's modern mystery high school noir Brick . But it wasn't until 2009's 500 Days Of Summer that Gordon-Levitt was introduced to more mainstream movie audiences.

Any Similarities: The comic timing that he would have developed during his stint on sitcoms would have surely helped when it came to filming his quirky rom-com, but those other roles smacks of an actor making sure not to get typecast.

Naomi Watts

The TV Show: Early roles in Hey Dad ...! and Brides Of Christ (nope, us neither) paved the way for a 19-episode stint on Home And Away , in which she played the wheelchair-bound Julie Gibson, who was left paralysed following a car accident.

The Breakout Movie: Despite a promising part in 1995's Tank Girl , Watts' movie career didn't really pick up until six years later when she starred in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive and, almost immediately after, The Ring . A couple of years after that,she was Oscar nominated for her role in 21 Grams .

Any Similarities: Well, a wheelchair-bound character with paralysis certainly evokes a similar sense of tragedy as that in 21 Grams . And um... it's exactly the kind of character that you might expect to pop up in any of David Lynch's work...

Russell Crowe

The TV Show: Crowe has a handful of early TV credits to his name, including The Young Doctors and Police Rescue , but his biggest telly gig was a four-episode role in Neighbours in 1987.

The Breakout Movie: There were several significant rungs up the movie ladder, such as Romper Stomper, L.A. Confidential and The Insider , but few can deny that his first true global standout role was that as Maximus in 2000's Gladiator .

Any Similarities: Crowe played the part of Kenny Larkin in Neighbours , a young con man and petty crook who managed to get into a fight. So even then Crowe was playing the tough guy. In fact, Neighbours might be responsible for his whole career.

Ryan Gosling

The TV Show: Little Gosling started acting life as a child star on Disney's Mickey Mouse Club in 1993. From there he continued with more family fluff such as Goosebumps and Young Hercules , the latter creating an unlikely link between Gosling and one Kevin Sorbo.

The Breakout Movie: Little-seen neo-Nazi drama The Believer was his first foray into serious ach-ting, but it wasn't until ultimate romance film The Notebook that he became the object of affection for every female on the planet.

Any Similarities: Between Mickey Mouse Club and The Notebook ? Not likely, unless you count the fact that Gosling's co-star in the film was very nearly his old Disney colleague Britney Spears.

Bradley Cooper

The TV Show: Aside from guest spots on Sex And The City and Law And Order , and recurring roles on Nip/Tuck, Touching Evil and Jack & Bobby , most will recognise a pre-fame Cooper as Will Tippin, the sweet, charismatic best friend of Jennifer Garner's superspy Sydney Bristow in Alias .

The Breakout Movie: He can be spotted in small roles in the likes of My Little Eye, Wedding Crashers and Yes Man , but it wasn't until The Hangover became such a surprise hit that B-Coops was rocketed to the A-list.

Any Similarities: Not in the roles themselves, but Cooper has always been instantly likeable with a star-wattage smile. It's this same affability that made him a breakout character in The Hangover and the cocky, fun friend in Alias .