Popular TV Actors Who Could Have Been Movie Stars But Didn’t

Some stars leave television to pursue a career in film and while some succeed, not everyone is so lucky. Here are some popular TV actors who failed to become movie stars.


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The James Bond rumor didn’t come to fruition for Idris Elba, and he remained active on the small screen.

The British actor landed his starring role in the BBC series Luther in 2009. An original one-season show morphed into five series, with the most recent airing in 2019. Luther earned Elba a Golden Globe nomination and multiple Emmy nominations. In 2007, he held the main role in Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s little girls, his first film role. Despite Elba’s positive reviews, the film was Perry’s biggest hit.

Idris Elba has established himself as a major presence in film, playing the role of Heimdall in the MCU and portraying Krall in Star Trek Beyond. But he didn’t land the kind of breakthrough big-screen role that has yet to make him a bankable star, which might have happened if he hadn’t been replaced by Tyler Perry for his role as Morgan FREEMAN in a reboot of the film franchise based on the novels by James Patterson.


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Aaron Paul’s “Need for Speed” failed to become a franchise and it ended up returning to television.

The role of Jesse Pinkman in breaking Bad was Paul’s big break. When Paul was cast in the DreamWorks movie Need for Speed, he got his first lead role in a feature film. The film is based on the video games of the same name. Despite the film’s international success, it received negative reviews. The plan was to turn Need for Speed ​​into an international franchise with the release of Need for Speed ​​2. In any case, Paul was not contacted to participate in follow-up films.

Paul has re-entered the television industry in recent years. In addition to being the executive producer and voice actor for the animated series BoJack Riderhe currently appears on the Apple TV series The truth must be told and HBO Westworld.


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Another one of the popular TV actors who couldn’t become movie stars, Matt LeBlanc landed lead roles in movies such as the sports comedy Ed and sci-fi adventure lost in space with his success as a television star. Unfortunately, both films failed to meet box office expectations and received very poor reviews.

LeBlanc announced a hiatus after “Joey” was canceled in 2006. In 2011, LeBlanc returned to the television series starring in Episodes, as a fictionalized version of himself. He received four Emmy Award nominations and a Golden Globe during the five seasons he worked on the show. The CBS sitcom Man with a Plan featured LeBlanc in the lead role from 2017 to 2020.

Catherine HEIGL

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Heigl made her television debut in 1999 as Isabel Evans on the WB sci-fi series Roswell. But that was the role of Izzie Stevens, in the ABC series Grey’s Anatomy in 2005, it made her a big TV star. She won an Emmy in 2007 for the same.

The same year, she starred in Judd Apatow’s “Knocked Up”. She was named Hollywood’s new “it girl” after the film won positive reviews and was a box office success. His subsequent starring roles never paid off, at the box office or elsewhere, even though 27 Dresses and The sad truth both made a nice profit. Heigl expressed interest in returning to Grey’s Anatomy in 2012, regretting his decision to leave the show. However, she never returned to the series.


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Topher Grace’s success on That ’70s Show earned him the nickname “the next Tom Hanks.” One of Grace’s first starring roles on the big screen was in In Good Company, a year-end awards season contender that didn’t earn the actor much recognition.

After leaving television, his first major film role was that of Eddie Broc in Spiderman 3, but three years later he played a significant role in Predators, an attempt to revitalize the Predator series. Despite these roles, he failed to become a big screen star.

As the decade progressed, he found work in Interstellar, BlacKkKlansman (playing David Duke) and Irresistible (2020), while he also lent his voice for Robot Chicken and The Simpsons. He also had a role in a recent episode of The twilight zone.