For several decades, television and its stars were considered secondary to the film industry and its critically-acclaimed actors. There was a stigma attached to any TV actor, and their chances of making a transition to the big screen were slim to none. However, over time, television began to produce series that were critically acclaimed and held to the same standard as film. The same can be said for the TV stars that now surpassed some of the most famous movie actors.
Suddenly, the film industry turned to these TV stars to take on some of the most prestigious movie roles. It became more and more common for TV stars to attempt a move into a film career. Several famous TV stars left television behind, as they moved on and starred in the biggest summer blockbusters and Oscar-worthy films. Unfortunately, that is not the case for every actor that makes that move. Many TV actors failed as movie stars and couldn’t reach the same levels they did as TV stars. Some TV stars are destined for bigger things while others are meant for mainly just television. Here is a look at 8 TV Actors Who Failed To Succeed On The Big Screen and 7 That Turned Into Movie Stars.
15 John Krasinski (Failed)
From 2005 to 2013, John Krasinski starred as Jim Halpert in the popular sitcom The Office. His series-long love story with Pam, comedic timing, and classic facial expressions helped make him a TV star. However, he has somewhat struggled in his attempt to become a movie star. He has appeared in several films that failed to be his big breakout role. The films did poorly at the box office and with critics. Additionally, none of his performances elevated him to leading man in Hollywood. In 2018, he is scheduled to return to television in the starring role in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. However, he’s not giving up on his film career and is taking matters into his own hands. He directed and stars in the upcoming film A Quiet Place, along with Emily Blunt.
14 Mila Kunis (Turned Movie Star)
It was easy to see early on that Mila Kunis was destined to be a major motion picture star. However, she first made a name for herself in television. From 1998 to 2006, she played the role of Jackie Burkhart on the series That '70s Show. Since 1999, she has voiced the character Meg Griffin on the animated sitcom Family Guy. She has successfully transitioned from a TV star to a highly-regarded movie star. In 2008, she gained wider recognition with her role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In 2010, she received widespread praise for her performance in the Darren Aronofsky film Black Swan. This was a major breakthrough for her and elevated her to a new level of fame. She went on to star in several more films, such as Ted, Oz the Great and Powerful, and Bad Moms.
13 Michael Chiklis (Failed)
Michael Chiklis first gained attention in the early 90’s with his starring role in The Commish. He is best known for his role as Vic Mackey on the critically-acclaimed series The Shield. He then attempted to go from a TV star to a movie star, and at first, it seemed very promising. In 2005, Chiklis portrayed The Thing in the Fantastic Four films. However, his film career stalled from that point with him mostly landing supporting roles in forgettable films. He starred in two TV series that were cancelled, No Ordinary Family and Vegas. He later joined the cast of American Horror Story: Freak Show and landed a recurring role on Fox’s Gotham. It seems that no matter how hard Michael Chiklis tries to focus on a feature film career, television is always pulling him back in.
12 Bryan Cranston (Turned Movie Star)
Bryan Cranston easily conquered television and has moved on to feature films. In the mid-90’s, he had a recurring role on the groundbreaking sitcom Seinfeld. From 2000 to 2006, he starred in the Fox sitcom Malcolm in the Middle. He is best known for his portrayal of Walter White in the enormously popular series Breaking Bad for all 5 seasons. The series is often regarded as one of the greatest of all time. He won the Prime-Time Emmy For Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama four times. He soon started landing supporting roles in several popular movies that lead to more opportunities. In 2015, he portrayed Dalton Trumbo in the memorable film Trumbo. He was nominated for an Oscar for his critically-acclaimed performance. In 2017, he starred in Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying.
11 Matthew Perry (Failed)
In the 90’s, Matthew Perry became a household name and one of the biggest stars in television. His big breakthrough was as Chandler Bing on the cultural phenomenon Friends from 1994 to 2004. The series was a massive success, and it seemed like a certainty that all six cast members were destined for bigger things. Many thought that Perry had the best chance of making it on the big screen. However, he failed to make an impact with any of his performances. Additionally, he struggled with addiction and substance abuse during his time on Friends, which greatly affected his career. He later starred in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Mr. Sunshine, and Go On, although each series was eventually cancelled. However, Perry will always find a home on TV as he currently stars in the sitcom The Odd Couple.
10 Benedict Cumberbatch (Turned Movie Star)
Benedict Cumberbatch took the television world by storm and became one of its biggest sensations. He has now moved to film where he’s having a similar impact, although he’s clearly not done dominating television. Cumberbatch became world-famous with his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series Sherlock, which he has portrayed since 2010. Cumberbatch has been praised for his performance in the series. It quickly resulted in major film offers pouring in. He received widespread praise for his portrayal of Alan Turing in the film The Imitation Game. In 2016, he took on the role of Dr. Stephen Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his first appearance in Doctor Strange. He is signed on for another season of Sherlock, although the creators are unsure if they’ll produce a fifth season.
9 Jennifer Love-Hewitt (Failed)
Jennifer Love-Hewitt has all the tools required to be a big movie star. However, she could never land that role that would elevate her to a whole new level. She first gained fame with her breakout role as Sarah Reeves Merrin on the series Party of Five. She became an instant hit and was positioned to be a breakout star. Her most memorable movie role was in the horror film I Know What You Did Last Summer, and its sequel. She starred in several more films but has never been able to become a bankable movie star. Several of the films either did poorly at the box office, were a major disappointment to fans, or both. She returned to television and starred in Ghost Whisperer, The Client List, and Criminal Minds.
8 Steve Carell (Turned Movie Star)
Steve Carell became world famous with his role as Michael Scott on the popular sitcom The Office from 2005 to 2011. Also in 2005, he starred in the incredibly popular comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin. The combination of the series and film helped turn him into a major star. He left The Office at the end of season 7 to pursue a full-time film career. He did return for a brief appearance in the series finale in 2013. However, his film career has taken off like a rocket. In 2014, he was universally praised for his portrayal of John du Pont in the film Foxcatcher. In 2015, he starred in the critically-acclaimed ensemble film The Big Short. His career continues to move upwards with more major roles in the future.
7 Katherine Heigl (Failed)
Katherine Heigl was on the verge of reaching a level of stardom that few get to achieve. She first rose to prominence with her breakout role as Dr. Izzie Stevens on the critically-acclaimed medical drama Grey’s Anatomy from 2005 to 2010. She even won a Prime-Time Emmy for her role as Izzie Stevens. She then broke into film with her starring roles in Knocked Up and 27 Dresses. However, she soon developed a bad reputation for being difficult to work with. She received a significant backlash when she criticized Knocked Up as being s*xist. Later, she offended the Grey’s Anatomy writers when she refused an Emmy nomination because she felt the material she was given didn’t deserve it. The movie offers stopped rolling in, and she briefly returned to TV in State of Affairs, which was cancelled after one season.
6 Will Smith (Turned Movie Star)
Will Smith has worn several hats throughout his career and transitions from profession to profession with ease. He started his career as a rapper under the name The Fresh Prince before turning to a television career. He first made a name for himself in the popular sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air from 1990 to 1996. Smith became a massive TV star but soon left the world of TV behind and never looked back. He moved into a film career and has starred in a plethora of summer blockbusters, romantic comedies, and critically-acclaimed biopics. He starred in numerous beloved films, such as Bad Boys, Men In Black, Ali, The Pursuit of Happyness, and Concussion. He has been nominated for several awards and has proven himself as a bankable movie star.
5 Aaron Paul (Failed)
Aaron Paul had his big break portraying Jesse Pinkman in the critically and commercially-acclaimed series Breaking Bad from 2008 to 2013. He won several awards, including a Prime-Time Emmy for his universally-praised performance. He seemed destined to become a huge movie star, but so far, it hasn’t panned out that way. In 2014, he starred in Need for Speed but, despite the hype, wasn’t a major success. Most critics despised the film, although it did get a few positive responses. His subsequent film attempts have failed to impress as well. He currently voices Todd Chavez on the Netflix series BoJack Horseman and stars in the Hulu series The Path. However, there is still a chance that he could breakthrough to a film career, as he’ll be starring in several upcoming movies.
4 Chris Pratt (Turned Movie Star)
Chris Pratt went from lovable goof ball to a serious supporting actor to one of the top leading men in Hollywood. Pratt first gained fame for his role as Andy Dwyer on the sitcom Parks and Recreation from 2005 to 2015. He was only intended for the first season but ended up being the breakout star. He landed supporting roles in several films, including Moneyball, Zero Dark Thirty, and Her. He was elevated to the next level with his starring role as Peter Quill/ Star Lord in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel. He will reprise his role as Star Lord in several other MCU films. Additionally, he starred in The Lego Movie, Jurassic World, and The Magnificent Seven. There is little doubt that Pratt will be a major force in Hollywood for years to come.
3 Zach Braff (Failed)
There was a time when Zach Braff was all over television. He became a well-known TV star with his breakout role as John “J.D.” Dorian in the popular medical sitcom Scrubs from 2001 to 2010. Like many TV stars, he decided to give feature films a try, and it was initially very successful. He wrote, directed, and starred in the critically-acclaimed film Garden State. He went on to star in several more movies, although most were box office bombs and failed to impress critics. Roughly 10 years after Garden State, he wrote, directed, and starred in Wish I Was Here. He hoped to recreate the success he had with his first film but this attempt received mixed reviews. It appears that Zach Braff will never be able to shake the image of J.D.
2 Jennifer Aniston (Turned Movie Star)
Jennifer Aniston became a worldwide phenomenon with her breakthrough role as Rachel Green on the massively popular sitcom Friends. The entire cast became beloved celebs but Aniston always stood out among the rest. Her performance in the series was often held in high regard and resulted in several awards. There was no question that a film career was on the horizon. Unlike many of her former co-stars, she was able to shed the Rachel image and became a major movie star. She went on to star in several memorable films, including Marley & Me, Horrible Bosses, and We’re The Millers. In 2014, she starred in the film Cake, which received mostly mixed reviews. Regardless, Aniston was praised for her outstanding performance and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
1 Courtney Cox (Failed)
It seemed that Courteney Cox had broken free of TV land and was well on her way to becoming a major box office draw. Cox is best known for her role as Monica Geller on the cherished sitcom Friends for 10 seasons. Along with her co-stars, she was one of the most famous faces in the world. Naturally, a film career was the next logical step. She gained wider recognition as Gale Weathers in the horror franchise Scream. However, her film career didn’t take off like she had hoped. She mostly landed minor supporting roles and cameos. She returned to television on several popular series. Later, she starred in the ensemble TV series Dirt, although it was cancelled after its second season. From 2009 to 2015, she starred as Jules Cobb in the sitcom Cougar Town.