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Ten Deep 3.14.13: Top 10 Actors Who Started On TV
Posted by Mike Gorman on 03.14.2013

"Top Ten Actors Who Started On TV"

I have a confession to make, it has taken me this long to finally start catching up on this year's Oscar films. On Saturday, I saw Silver Linings Playbook and was truly blown away by Bradley Cooper's performance. When it was over, my first thought was, "Damn this guy has come a long way since Alias!" That's right, Bradley Cooper was on ABC's long running spy series co-starring with Jennifer Garner. This got me thinking about other stars that got their start on the small screen and rose to superstardom in the theaters.

10. Will Smith

When Will Smith made the transition from rap star to television star, I think he surprised many people. When he leapt from a sitcom to stronger dramatic rolls in film, I am certain he surprised everyone. What I have found most amazing about Smith is the depth of his range, in both parts & the films he has been in. From Independence Day to I Am Legend to The Pursuit of Happyness, you never know what Will Smith we will get next. Let's go back to his roots now with this clip of moments from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

9. Jim Carrey

From the moment he first appeared on the screen in In Living Color I think we all knew there was something special about the talent of Jim Carrey. Something that would not be contained on television for long. That assumption was correct as he skyrocketed to fame and has remained there ever since. I still think that some of his In Living Color characters are some of his most memorable, like Fire Marshall Bill...

8. Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp had his beginnings as the fresh faced Tiger Beat pin up boy on 21 Jump Street. He was good but did not exactly show the potential he would eventually develop. Depp has proven that he is one of Hollywood's most unique superstars headlining the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise while still taking on quirky rolls like his turns in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? and The Ninth Gate. He also apparently has become European over the past two decades. Just when I thought Depp might be crushed under the weight of his own pretentiousness I caught his cameo in the 21 Jump Street film. It was lighthearted and a great laugh, and here it is...

7. George Clooney

Not only did George Clooney first pop up on television, but he was on two shows with almost identical names, each set at a hospital, namely ER and E/R; one a drama the other a comedy. To me though, he will always be George, the mulleted handyman. Since then Clooney has obviously proven his Hollywood potential evolving most recently into a talented producer. In this clip he discusses some of those earlier moments of his career and his style.

6. Bill Murray

Bill Murray is the proverbial comedy boulder that has not stopped rolling down the Hollywood hills and first hit the scene on a little show called Saturday Night Live. He showed there that he had a real grasp for comedy on many levels and allowed that skill to blossom when he jumped to the big screen. One of my favorite classic Murray moments on SNL was his sleazy lounge singer alter ego and his take on Star Wars. I could not find video of the clip, but here is the audio, and with Murray performing that is enough.

5. Sally Field

She was young and innocent when she took to the skies as the Flying Nun but soon after she proved that she was a real acting powerhouse embracing a variety of challenging roles and truly iconic ones. She remains one of the lead American women on film to this day turning in an amazing performance in last year's Lincoln. If that is the only Sally Field you know, take a look at this old school TV promo for the Flying Nun, it is true vintage television.

4. Robin Williams

It is well known that Robin Williams first appeared as Mork from Ork on television before becoming the mega-star he is today, but that still makes the feat no less impressive. His massive talent was couched in a likeability that brought him into our homes and hearts. Robin Williams feels like an old friend when you see him, even at his most dramatic or raunchy comedic moments. He is more than just funny zingers and wacky voices, though he has plenty of those in his repertoire also. This clip is a series of bloopers from his early Mork days.

3. Morgan Freeman

One of the things that truly fascinates me about a stars transition from television to film is when they completely flip up their traditional genre and roles. This is perhaps most evident in the case of Morgan Freeman who's early work includes the soap opera Another World & many roles on The Electric Company, yes, that Electric Company. This pillar of modern Hollywood cut his teeth in the entertainment industry playing an educational vampire and a hip singer who loved reading. Check out the Easy Reader himself in this clip with the fantastic Rita Moreno.

2. Denzel Washington

This acting powerhouse found his start on NBC's drama St. Elsewhere where he played a young, strong willed doctor. Lucky for us, this was not the last stop on his career train and he was soon landing rolls in films, and stealing every moment. Watching Denzel evolve is a pleasure to behold and true Hollywood story in and of itself. This clip explores the evolution of his work from his early roots to his leading roles.

And lastly…

1. Tom Hanks

Drama, comedy, action... these are all things that Tom Hanks has shown us that he can master. What some of you may not know is that Tom Hanks first big role on television involved him cross dressing with Peter Scolari to get an affordable apartment. A very young Tom Hanks showed incredible comedy potential on the 80s hit, Bosom Buddies, you see what they did there? He left television behind though and quickly took his place in the pantheon of Hollywood greats. He is one of the best actors of our time, and it truly amazes me that if he hadn't been willing to strap on a bra and some lip gloss, he might never have found his way to the forefront. Just shows you how important it is to embrace every opportunity, no matter how ridiculous!

Did I miss your favorite TV to Movie star? Specifically, what about the women? Many have made the jump but have they been all that successful? I'd like to hear your opinions!

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