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Ten Deep 7.10.14: Top 10 Movie Stars Who Went To TV
Posted by Mike Gorman on 07.10.2014

" Top Ten Movie Stars Who Went To Television"

Last night the new series Extant premiered on CBS. This highly anticipated new series is not necessarily drawing viewer excitement for its unique plot as much as it is for its lead, Halle Berry. Berry is just the latest in a recent wave of celebrities who found stardom on the big screen and have now decided to take their talents to television. This week's Ten Deep looks at what I believe to have been the most successful of these transitions. Yes, some of the people listed might have had smaller TV roles before they started doing movies but it is the cinema where they made their marks. Let's start with a celebrity who is more so known now for his tabloid antics than he is for any of his acting projects.

10. Charlie Sheen

With films like Wall Street, Platoon and Major League under his belt, Charlie Sheen had established himself as a movie star that could bring some success to films that carried his name on their marquees. Then when Michael J. Fox announced he would be leaving his hit series Spin City, word surfaced that Sheen would be stepping in as the new lead. Critics questioned whether or not Sheen's charm and humor would translate to the small screen but they were quickly shown that it would not be a problem. Sheen went on to anchor the long time number one series Two & A Half Men and most recently stars in the series Anger Management on FX.

9. Matthew McConaughey

I don't think there were any doubts that Matthew McConaughey would be able to pull off the transition from the big screen to the small screen when it was announced he would be co-starring in the HBO series True Detective. And while his run on the series is limited to one season based on its format, the results were none the less impressive. The star of films like We Are Marshall, Dazed & Confused, and Frailty proved that his big personality and ability to bring vital energy to new characters worked just as well on television.

8. Kyra Sedgwick

Kyra Sedgwick's filmography includes series dramatic roles in movies like Phenomenon and Born on the 4th of July but she truly broke out as a stand-alone star when she took the lead role in TV's The Closer. Here she found a role that not only captivated audiences but critics alike. There was only sorrow when she made the decision to end the series with its extended seventh season. We must give her credit for knowing when it was time to move on instead of letting a series languish, yes I am looking at you Law & Order: SVU.

7. Jane Lynch

For me Jane Lynch became a real scene stealer when she showed up in the Christopher Guest films, including Best in Show and For Your Consideration, so I was absolutely thrilled when I heard she was coming to network television with a substantial role in Fox's Glee. From the moment she first put on Sue Sylvester's trademark track suit, Lynch proved that no matter how devious her character got she would always be the one that fans wanted to see more of, especially when she lets loose and joins in the series' campy fun; as she does in the video below. Her take on Nicki Minaj is fun for the audience but also clearly fun for her as well.

6. Kevin Spacey

One of the major reasons that film stars are jumping to television of late is that the networks and streaming services are paying true attention to crafting strong vehicles for these larger than life talents to inhabit. This is certainly the case with Kevin Spacey who made a name for himself in films like Seven, American Beauty and The Usual Suspects and is now headlining Netflix's incredibly successful drama House of Cards. Spacey's role in the series as ruthless Frank Underwood allows him to play many levels within this political thriller. Spacey's ability to bring depth to a character who could have easily come off as two dimensional certainly played a part in Netflix announcing a 3rd season of the series would be on the way before the 2nd season even began.

5. Glenn Close

Glenn Close had already proven to audiences that she could bring intensity to her performances in films like Dangerous Liaisons and . I do not however think anyone expected the intensity she brought to television when she appeared in the series Damages. To call Close's Patty Hewes intense is truly an understatement as she brought us several seasons of steely cold and frenetic energy. The show's unique tact to have Close's law firm take on season long cases allowed for there to be some amazing character development amongst the established plots. Close has the Emmys to show for her efforts here.

4. Alec Baldwin

While Alec Baldwin did indeed build himself an impressive film resume including The Hunt for Red October, Prelude to a Kiss and more it was when he stepped in front of the TV cameras to bring us 30 Rock's Jack that his brilliance emerged. Baldwin showed us some fantastic comic timing and absurdist turns in his tenure as the GE executive playing against Tina Fey. Baldwin may have played against some more slapstick humor when he was in Beetlejuice but on 30 Rock he was able to show that you did not need to go over the top to get the big laughs.

3. Laura Linney

Laura Linney had a string of memorable film roles under her belt, including Love Actually, Mystic River, and The Truman Show, but she proved that she was a true powerhouse when she appeared in Showtime's The Big C. The series took a very different look into the life of a woman living with terminal cancer and the impact it would have on her family. Most times these story stick to the classic route of portraying the lead as an untouchable hero yet here Linney brought humor and humanity, and in the end it felt more real than any other attempt I have seen to portray this experience on television. Linney not only made you laugh and cry, but also brought across the physical and emotional exhaustion of the experience in ways very few people could.

2. Kiefer Sutherland

Kiefer Sutherland almost had a lock on the number one spot on this because he is one of the first names that pops up when I broached this topic with anyone. Sutherland certainly made a name for himself in films like Lost Boys, Stand By Me, A Few Good Men and Young Guns but then came 24 and he entered the lexicon of names when it came to the top television action stars. Jack Bauer is a character that will go down in television history and it is a character that was crafted masterfully by Sutherland.

And finally…

1. Norman Reedus

Yes, I am certainly throwing in a hefty dollop when I place Norman Reedus at the top of this week's countdown but I see him as an actor who built up a lot of independent and smaller role credit for himself and then exploded when he hit the television. Reedus has long been one of the actors that everyone recognized but could not always explain why; though certainly fans of the Boondock Saints would be able to tell you exactly where they know him from. Then he shows up as the quiet yet intense Daryl on AMC's The Walking Dead and everyone knows who he is and since the show began he has proved himself worthy of the accolades from fans and critics alike. He has made Daryl the number one pick for who we'd want with us if a real zombie apocalypse occurred and he has also of late shown us that there is a heart beating beneath Daryl's rough exterior. I for one cannot wait for October to get here to see what comes next!

Yes, I may have missed your favorites, for example once I finished the list I realized I could have included most of the cast of FX's American Horror Story here with ease, so consider them my honorable mentions. I'd love to hear yours in the comments below!

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