What do Johnny Depp, George Clooney and Jennifer Aniston have in common? No prizes for knowing that they’re all actors and have films currently on release. But if you said they began their careers and became household names in TV shows then congratulations, you are exactly right (but there still isn’t a prize, sorry…) When you look at some of the biggest names in film, more often than not you’ll see beginnings on the small screen, not in the bright blinding lights of Hollywood blockbusters.

For example Will Smith has been nominated for two Oscars and is currently one of the highest paid actors in the business. Not bad for a guy who started off as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air (I’ll pause while you reminisce and have a go at the opening rap). As soon as it ended in 1996, he filmed Independence Day and shot straight to the top.

The Fresh Prince is not alone. Jennifer Aniston is remembered for her role as Rachel in Friends. But while still being Rachel, she began a movie career that has continued after her other friends’ careers in films have fizzled out. Let’s just not mention the 1993 disaster Leprechaun.

However some never manage to escape their TV typecast roles. No-one will ever see Henry Winkler as anything but ‘The Fonz’ on Happy Days, no matter how many film roles he takes on.

It’s not easy to make the transition from television to film, but looking through the names of actors who have managed it, Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Ryan Reynolds, it’s not impossible. What remains to be seen is whether Katherine Heigl and Zachary Quinto can successfully complete the move from TV; hopefully avoiding films such as Revenge of the Killer Tomatoes – Clooney’s first foray into cinema after 7 TV shows which is worth a watch for the laughs if you’re bored of revising. There are some that say TV stardom disqualifies an actor from major cinematic success. But a look across the latest films and their stars will tell you a different story.

Lucy Kenderdine

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