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10 Hollywood stars who made the move to TV

Thursday 4th October 2018

As cinema continues its golden age of comic book movies and fans can barely move for a spandex-clad codpiece, let’s not forget the importance of the small screen. Coming straight into our living rooms or streaming onto our laptops, TV shows can sometimes be just as lucrative as their big screen counterparts.

While the likes of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead jostle for the top spot, gritty dramas and cheerful comedies are luring in a whole crowd of Hollywood A-listers. More than just a two-hour movie or a multi-feature arc, Tinseltown's biggest names are signing on for extended seasons of our favourite shows. With this in mind, here are 10 Hollywood stars who made the move to TV.

Jessica Lange—American Horror Story

American Horror Story’s golden girl is finally coming back for the upcoming Murder House/Coven crossover, meaning Ryan Murphy's horror anthology is getting back one of its biggest stars.

While American Horror Story is known for the all-star cast of Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, and Lady Gaga, there’s no escaping the Hollywood credentials of Lange. Once tipped to play Wendy Torrance in The Shining before the part went to Shelley Duvall, Lange has appeared in everything from Tootsie to King Kong.

Sam Neill -- Alcatraz

Finally having enough of those carnivorous critters, Sam Neill seems to have abandoned the Jurassic Park series in search of pastures new. The acclaimed actor has many TV ventures under his belt, but let’s discuss Fox’s answer to LOST -- Alcatraz.  

The short-lived show about time-travelling prisoners from the San Francisco landmark wasn’t the best place to showcase Neill’s talents but was a fun ride while it lasted. Since Alcatraz, the 70-year-old has popped up in the likes of Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Thor: Ragnarok -- all we need now is a Jurassic World reprieve.

Glenn Close -- Damages

There was a ‘fatal attraction’ when Glenn Close was drawn to sharp-shooting law show, Damages. Starring as Patty Hewes alongside Rose Byrne, Close’s ruthless lawyer became an unmissable TV anti-hero.

Known for playing the iconic Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmatians, Close’s other movie credits include Guardians of the Galaxy and The Girl With The Gifts. Even with Ted Danson, Lily Tomlin, and John Goodman all gracing Damages with their presence, Close was the jewel in the show’s crown.

Kevin Bacon -- The Following

Although he’s known for the toe-tapping Footloose, let’s remember that Kevin Bacon is still one of those Hollywood names that everyone knows. Ignoring those EE commercials, Bacon has starred in everything from comic book movies (X-Men: First Class) to horror (Hollow Man).

Making a move to the small screen, Bacon took the lead for Fox’s The Following. The Edgar Allan Poe-inspired thriller was a hit with fans for three seasons. Elsewhere there’s also footage from Bacon’s surprisingly professional Tremors series. Sadly, the networks decided not to bring back Valentine McKee.

Nicole Kidman -- Big Little Lies

In keeping with HBO tradition, Big Little Lies boasts an all-star roster of talent. Although Meryl Streep is set to join in Season 2, the first run of episodes arguably belonged to Nicole Kidman.

It is hard to pick a ‘biggest star’ from Big Little Lies’ eclectic cast, but you can’t escape Kidman’s well-deserved place near the top. Taking a tennis racket to Alexander Skarsgård’s penis, Kidman means that we’ll never look at Wimbledon in the same way again.

Woody Harrelson -- True Detective

Woody Harrelson is everywhere right now. From starring as the alcoholic Haymitch in The Hunger Games to redneck Tallahassee in Zombieland, his recent roles have taken a more serious turn with War for the Planet of the Apes and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Leaving behind his time as Woody Boyd from Cheers, Harrelson’s best small-screen credit was the electrifying first season of True Detective. Joining Matthew McConaughey in the crime thriller, the duo set the precedent for how True Detective should’ve continued. A new cast including Colin Farrell didn’t live up to the hype of Season 2, so let’s see how Season 3 fares.

Winona Ryder -- Stranger Things

Putting that unfortunate shoplifting incident behind her, Winona Ryder has gone back to being a Hollywood sweetheart to remind everyone why we fell in love with her in Beetlejuice.

As Joyce Byers on the Netflix series, Ryder plays the loving mother of Noah Schnapp’s Will. The sometimes tragic Joyce has had a rough time of it in the first two seasons of the Duffer Brothers’ show. However, it was this tragedy that has helped earn Ryder Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for her portrayal.

Michelle Yeoh -- Star Trek: Discovery

Leaving behind the martinis and massacres of being a Bond girl, Michelle Yeoh was a welcome addition to Star Trek: Discovery’s freshman year. Just pipping Jason Isaac’s role as the villainous Captain Lorca, Yeoh put in a mesmerising performance as Philippa Georgiou.

With Prime Universe Georgiou kicking the bucket and the vengeful Terran version heading off for a new life before the season’s end, who knows when/if Yeoh will be back aboard the bridge of the Discovery?

Anthony Hopkins -- Westworld

Swapping Chianti and fava beans for robots in disguise, there’s no denying that Anthony Hopkins is one of Westworld’s biggest names. Even in an A-list ensemble of James Marsden and Thandie Newton, Hopkins’ move from his days of playing Hannibal Lecter to Dr Robert Ford in HBO’s sci-fi spectacle is quite a coup.

Sure, Hopkins only appeared in Season 2 a minor capacity, but he gave another powerhouse performance.

Naomi Watts -- Twin Peaks

After some 25 years off our screens, David Lynch’s return trip to Twin Peaks was just as twisted as everyone remembers. As well as her standout performance in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Naomi Watts is immortalised for her part in Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.

Continuing their working relationship, Watts popped up as Janey-E Jones to add to Twin Peaks’ doppelganger mystery. Although Lynch managed an amazing feat of getting back pretty much everyone from Twin Peak’s early days, Watts settled in nicely with the rest of the cast as a newcomer.

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