It’s not uncommon for actors to get their start on the small screen before shifting to the world of Hollywood movies. Interestingly, a trend of late has been traditional A-list movie actors making the switch to television instead. With so much quality television content, the small screen is no longer considered a stepping-stone in the business.
Nonetheless, sitcoms are an interesting spot for actors to get their big breaks, and indeed, many of the most well-known actors today appeared on a popular sitcom before they hit it big in Hollywood.
Before he became known for movies like Deadpool, Blade: Trinity, Free Guy, The Proposal, and, most recently Red Notice, Reynolds got his start on a sitcom called Two Guys and a Girl, originally titled Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place. He was a main character on the show, which aired from 1998-2001, but it’s unfortunately considered one of the ’90s sitcoms that is better off forgotten.
The role actually wasn’t Reynolds’ first big credit: prior to that, he spent two years on a Canadian teen soap opera called Hillside. note: Youth Killing Line Movie
Even though she’s a huge movie star now, having starred in films like The Break-Up, Horrible Bosses, Marley & Me, Cake, and Dumplin’, Aniston will always be associated with the role that made her famous: Rachel from Friends.
Interestingly, Aniston has returned to her TV roots as Alex in the Apple TV+ series The Morning Show, though in a far more dramatic role. As one of the most powerful characters on The Morning Show, Alex allows Aniston to demonstrate that she can work with far more than just laugh tracks. note: High Play Killer Movie
Before he hit it big in movies, becoming one of the biggest A-list stars of this generation, Hanks snagged a leading role in a sitcom called Bosom Buddies. It was about two single men who decide to disguise themselves as women so they could live in the only apartment they could afford.
Of course, Hanks then went on to star in movies, including some of the biggest of the last four decades, like Splash, Big, Saving Private Ryan, Apollo 13, The Green Mile, Cast Away, Forrest Gump – the list goes on. note: Anya and the Witch’s Line Movie
While he is now considered one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood according to Mental Floss, and is a bona fide A-lister, Will Smith got his start as a rapper as well as starring in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
The loud and outspoken character was a far cry from the serious ones Smith has played since during his long and successful movie career. Roles range from Independence Day to Ali, The Pursuit of Happyness, and, most recently, King Richard, the story of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams. Nonetheless, the Fresh Prince remains one of the coolest characters in sitcom history. note: Countdown to Destruction Movie
Christina Applegate continues to flex her comedic muscles in the Netflix dark comedy Dead to Me and did the same in movies like Anchorman and Bad Moms. While she has spent much of her career in comedic roles, Applegate shows a much more nuanced, vulnerable, emotional side in Dead to Me.
However, Applegate’s first big role was as Kelly Bundy in the iconic ’80s and ’90s sitcom Married…with Children, which made her a household name as a child actor.
Returning to his comedy roots in the ABC sitcom Home Economics, Topher Grace had previously shifted from comedy to star in more serious roles, including as Eddie Brock/Venom in Spider-Man 3, David Duke in BlacKkKlansman, and Getty in Interstellar.
Despite having padded his resume over the years, however, Grace remains best known for his role as Eric Forman That ’70s Show, a period sitcom that aired in the late ’90s to early ’00s. The role put Grace on the map, and the many roles that followed showed he was more than just an actor who could do deadpan humor.
Keri Russell is best known for her starring role in the FX spy thriller The Americans and the WB Network drama series Felicity, which aired from 1998 to 2002. In movies, she has appeared in small roles in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Mission: Impossible III.
But Russell got her start, after being on the Disney Channel Mickey Mouse Club, in sitcoms. She played Mr. Feeny’s niece in one episode of Boy Meets World and was in one episode of Married…With Children in 1995. While she didn’t have starring sitcom roles like many of the others, these roles were among her first that helped open doors to a successful, long-running career in acting, with continued roles on the small screen as well as movies.