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Top 10 Male TV Actors Turned Movie Stars

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script Written by Briana Lawrence. Here's to the men who went from half an hour, weekly small screen stars to big screen Hollywood hits. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Male TV Actors Turned Movie Stars. For this list, we’ll be looking at men who became household, television names, and then moved onto the big screen during the commercial breaks. Don't worry, the ladies appear on their own list. Special thanks to our users Cfp3157, Bryan Ramos and Sergio Zavaleta for submitting the idea on our Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Male TV Actors Turned Movie Stars


Here’s to the men who went from half an hour, weekly small screen stars to big screen Hollywood hits. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Male TV Actors Turned Movie Stars.

For this list, we’ll be looking at men who became household, television names, and then moved onto the big screen during the commercial breaks. Don't worry, the ladies appear on their own list. We also won’t be counting soap opera roles, nor will we be counting actors who only appeared in a handful of television episodes or in only the last season of a show, such as Leonardo DiCaprio. We hate snubbing him, but we feel like he wasn’t on TV long enough to consider him for this list. You’ll get the recognition someday, Leo.

#10: Woody Harrelson
“Cheers” (1982-93)

It all started at a bar where everybody knew your name, and after the death of show regular Nicholas Colasanto in 1985, we all let “Woody Boyd” step into the bar. When the series ended in 1993, our bar tabs were closed and the actor went on to star in numerous motion pictures. From comedies like “White Men Can’t Jump,” to crime films like “Natural Born Killers,” and even taking on zombies in “Zombieland”, there was no way we wouldn’t know this actor’s name ever again.

#9: Michael J. Fox
“Family Ties” (1982-89)

From the family portrait to that ending “sha la la la,” there’s not a TV watcher from the ‘80s who didn’t know this sitcom and its most memorable character, Alex P. Keaton. By the time the final episode aired, the eldest Keaton son had already become a teen wolf and had made his way back to the future. We’ve been watching him ever since with each of his starring roles, along with his much welcomed return to television in “Spin City.”

#8: Johnny Depp
“21 Jump Street” (1987-91)

How to make a name for yourself: have a claw-handed horror icon swallow you in a bed and erupt into a fountain of blood. If that doesn’t work, you can join the police force over on “21 Jump Street.” We now know this particular actor for his numerous movie roles throughout the years, but before Tim Burton got a hold of him and before the rum - yes, even before the rum - he was working undercover at high schools as Officer Tom Hanson.

#7: Idris Elba
“The Wire” (2002-08); “Luther” (2010-15)

Who doesn’t love an actor who can pilot a Jaeger, stand guard over the Bifröst Bridge, and take on the role of Nelson Mandela? But before all of that happened, this London born actor was starring in the first three seasons of HBO’s “The Wire.” That gave us a taste of him in the U.S. And now? We can’t get enough - whether he’s in the Marvel universe, dominating the BBC as John Luther, or being rumored to be the next James Bond.

#6: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
“3rd Rock from the Sun” (1996-2001)

This particular actor was in several movies and television shows at a young age, but we still remember him most on the small screen as Tommy Solomon, the oldest alien in “3rd Rock from the Sun.” Despite the character’s age, he was given a teenage, human body, creating an amusing contrast of a teenager playing an adult alien pretending to be a teenager. Since then, JGL’s grown up and moved to the big screen in blockbuster hits like “Inception” and “The Dark Knight Rises”... but he’ll always be Tommy to us.

#5: Bruce Willis
“Moonlighting” (1985-89)

Have you ever looked back to see how your favorite action stars started? Nothing says “Christmas” like eggnog and John McClane, but it’s hard to believe that this bad ass started out as... a recording artist? Sorry, we got sidetracked, we meant to focus on his television career. Before this actor was screaming “Yippie Ki-yay,” watching Haley Joel Osment see dead people, or appearing in any of the dozens of movies he’s been in, he was playing a private detective alongside Cybill Shepherd on ABC.

#4: Tom Hanks
“Bosom Buddies” (1980-82)

Apartment living can get expensive... unless you cross-dress as a woman and move into an all-female hotel after your old apartment is demolished - at least that’s the case according to the ‘80s sitcom, “Bosom Buddies.” We’re not sure what we’re scratching our heads over the most: the fact that such a crazy plan actually worked for two seasons, or the fact that one of the stars would move on to be a huge name in Hollywood. We suppose “life is indeed like a box of chocolates.”

#3: Robin Williams
“Mork & Mindy” (1978-82)

“Na-Nu Na-Nu,” Mojoholics! Seriously, was there anything that this actor couldn’t do? We all have that moment where he entered into our lives – either as a giant, blue genie, playing a crazy, jungle board game, reciting “Oh Captain, My Captain,” or... well, we could go on for days. Even with the long list ofmovie roles, we have to show love for his early television work. Much like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, there was something about his portrayal of a loveable, non-human character that made us lifelong fans.

#2: Will Smith
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-96)

Now this next entry’s all ‘bout how
A guy’s life got flipped, turned upside down
So we’d like to take a minute, tell you some things
Like how he rapped, moved to T.V., and the big screen

Don’t worry, we won’t rhyme the entire time. Not much needs to be said about one of the coolestactors out there - even with the occasional hiccups in his filmography. We always have, and probably always will, love seeing the Fresh Prince in action.

We’ll be right back with our number one pick after these honorable mentions.
- Ryan Gosling
“The All-New Mickey Mouse Club” (1989-95)
- Chris Pratt
“Parks and Recreation” (2009-15)
- Pierce Brosnan
“Remington Steele” (1982-87)
- Michael Cera
“I Was a Sixth Grade Alien” [aka “My Best Friend is an Alien”] (1999-2001); “Arrested Development” (2003-06; 2013]
- Jason Segel
“Freaks and Geeks” (1999-2000); “How I Met Your Mother” (2005-14)

#1: George Clooney
“ER” (1994-2009)

It was a tough call for the number one pick, but we had to give it to this guy - doctor’s orders. While he did have a short stint on “Roseanne,” it was his role as Dr. Doug Ross on “ER” that helped him rise to fame. While still working on “ER,” he had his first taste of major Hollywood work, and hasn’t left the big screen ever since -- for better, or... Batman. Um... let’s end this with more “ER” clips... phew, that’s better.

Do you agree with our list? Which primetime actor turned movie star deserves a round of applause? For more entertaining top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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