Stars who started on soap operas

While soap operas today aren’t as popular as they used to be, they have produced some of the most talented actors and actresses. From Oscar winners to popular TV faces, check out which celebrities  got their big break on the soaps.

Kevin Bacon








Before Footloose in 1984, Kevin Bacon spent a year on the hit soap opera Guiding Light. He played the role of Timothy Werner, a teenager with alcohol issues. Kevin left the job at the soap opera after a year to try his hand at movies. That turned out to be a smart move and he landed films such as the classic Footloose, Quicksilver, Mystic River, In the Cut and Apollo 13.

Julianne Moore








Before her breakthrough role as Amber Waves in the film Boogie Nights, Julianne Moore played the dual roles of half-sisters Frannie and Sabrina Hughes on As the World Turns. Her 1985-1988 soap opera stint won her a Daytime Emmy. “If you’re going to do a soap, you always want to play twins. But then you learn that there’s nothing more boring than acting with yourself, because you know what’s going to happen,” the actress has said. On April 5, 2010, CBS aired a highly-anticipated episode with Moore reprising her role as Frannie.

Josh Duhamel








Josh got his start on the ABC soap All My Children, playing fan favorite Leo du Pres from 1999-2002 (and earning a 2003 Daytime Emmy for the role). Last year, when Duhamel learned that All My Children had been canceled and would be airing its final episode, he agreed to reprise his career-starting role. “I guess in a way it was just my way of saying thank you to go back and do an episode,” the actor told Entertainment Weekly.

Demi Moore








In 1982, young Demi beat out thousands of actors for the role of Jackie Templeton on General Hospital. She was an instant sensation as a sassy reporter who went to great lengths to get a scoop. Moore left GH in 1983 and went on to star in Blame It on Rio and St. Elmo’s Fire, eventually landing her big break in Ghost.

Alec Baldwin








Baldwin kick started his career on soap operas. He first appeared on the NBC daytime soap opera The Doctors from 1980 to 1982, but his real break came from his two year stint on the CBS primetime soap Knot’s Landing, from 1984 to 1985. Baldwin played Joshua Rush, the handsome televangelist half-brother of main character Valene.

Meg Ryan

Celebrities At The Lancia Cafe - Day 6 - Taormina Filmfest 2013







Before becoming one of America’s sweethearts in films like When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan was a romantic on the small screen. From 1982 to 1984, she played Betsy Stewart on As the World Turns. Ryan’s movie career took off when she left the show and the rest is history.

Brad Pitt








While many think that Brad Pitt started his career in the 1991 movie Thelma & Louise, the truth is he first appeared on daytime television. In 1987, the actor appeared on two episodes of Another World as Chris. Pitt also appeared on an episode of Growing Pains that same year.

Susan Sarandon








Movie star Susan Sarandon got an Oscar playing a nun in 1995’s Dead Man Walking. But back in the day, the former model got her start on the small screen in 1972 on Search for Tomorrow. Five years later, she would become a household name with movies like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Great Waldo Pepper.

Tommy Lee Jones








From 1971 to 1975, this future Oscar winner played Dr. Mark Toland on ABC’s One Life to Live. Shortly after his stint on daytime television ended, Jones found his way to Hollywood to pursue a successful film and television career.

Ryan Phillippe








Ryan’s big break came in 1992 on the soap opera One Life to Live. At the age of 17, Phillippe played Billy Douglas, the first gay teenager on a daytime soap. Reflecting on the experience, Phillippe has said “When I auditioned, I had no idea Billy was gay. They told me, and I said ‘Oh! Okay!’ but a shock went through my system. But I realized that maybe this role is where I’m supposed to be.”

Eva Longoria








Before she was Gabrielle Solis in Desperate Houswives, Eva Longoria played Isabella Brana on The Young and the Restless. The Texas native’s guest appearance on ABC’s General Hospital led to her big break to play Brana in 2001. Longoria stayed with the daytime show for two years before she landed the role as Solis on the successful show Desperate Housewives.

Leonardo DiCaprio








Many people remember a young Leonardo DiCaprio on the hit sitcom Growing Pains, but the Hollywood superstar actually got his start on a soap opera. In 1990, DiCaprio was cast as Mason Capwell on NBC’s Santa Barbara.

Vivica A. Fox








She has memorable movie credits like Independence Day, but Vivica A. Fox was also one of the hardest working women in soaps. She appeared on three daytime dramas in her career — on Days of Our Lives as Carmen Silva, on Generations as Maya Reubens and on The Young and the Restless as Stephanie Simmons.

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4 responses to “Stars who started on soap operas”

  1. Kim says:

    You never know where the fate leads you. I like the list of the actors and actresses brought up in this article. Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio start on soap operas was a great revelation to me, honestly! Well, we all have started our professional careers with something, reaching the places we are at now. It was amazing to know that Brad Pitt used to working a chicken costume in the street giving out the advertising flyers to the passer-bys.

  2. Rita says:

    Of course we all know who Gabriella Solis is, awe I love Eva Longoria; I think she is the hottest Latin actress in all of the times. The best thing about her is that she is same on the screen as well as in her real life. I enjoy watching all of the live TV shows where she appears, or all of the interviews that she is giving to the media. She is always so original and positive. Awe God, I think only a silly person cannot fall in love in her merry giggling. The only time I saw her upset was after she divorced with that man who was cheating on her. She was so hurt, that was not even able to hide it, and it shows the depth of her suffering, the fact that she is an actress, usually people of her profession are quite easy at not showing their emotions, while she was suffering so much that could not even hide it, I think it is awful seeing such a strong woman becoming so weak because of her love to the wrong person.

  3. Darla says:

    I loved Vivica Fox in the “Independence Day” movie; actually I loved the entire movie, as I think it is the best movie that has been ever shot in the entire universe. She and Will Smith were awesome in it. Actually I thought that they will start a relationship after this movie, and was quite surprised to see that they did not. Probably it is because Will Smith was always so in love with his wife. I guess it would be weird if each actor would leave the family and start new family with each new partner on the screen, though I do know a few of those cases, like for example Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, they both were in a relationship or married by the time they met each other, but their love appeared so suddenly and was so strong that they could not help it besides simply being together.

  4. Mel says:

    Ha ha, Ryan Philippe started with performing in soap operas, and it is a pity that he evolved into a big movie world after it, as I guess he doesn’t deserve it at all. Some people just do not have the power in order to live in the big world of cinema that is why they keep performing for years in soap operas. I think Ryan is exactly this kind of actor. Life in Hollywood was too hard for him, as well as keeping up with his ex wife Reese Witherspoon who was much more successful than him, and this was the fact that was killing Ryan Philippe from inside, exactly until the moment when Reese’s patience got finished and she could not live with such a ungrateful husband anymore. I feel sorry for him, as all he did with this kind of behavior is making his own life miserable and that’s it. No one really cares about him now. Reese is happily married with a man who was able to mark and appreciate all of her talent, instead of envy her for being ambitious and able to get what she wants. Unfortunately her ex husband Ryan Philippe was not same tough cookie as she is, so he gave up.