Soapstar to Superstar: 15 film stars who started off in the lowly soaps
Whoever thought little Peter Beale would find his way onto the big screen? Actor Ben Hardy is currently making his film debut as Angel in X-Men: Apocalypse (in cinemas now).
In honour of Ben’s big leap into the X-Men universe, we thought we’d delve back into TV history to see if we could find any other film stars who had their first break in soap-land.
Joanna Lumley – Coronation Street
Most famous for turning down Ken Barlow’s offer of marriage, Lumely played Elaine Perkins on Corrie in 1973. She went on to star in the hilarious comedy Absolutely Fabulous which catapulted her career into the spotlight. Lumley has most recently been seen on the big screen in The Wolf of Wall Street as Aunt Emma, and she will hit cinemas this summer in the film adaptation of Ab Fab.
Ben Kingsley – Coronation Street
From 1966-67 Kingsley played the role of Ron Jenkins before hitting the big time in 1982 with his award-winning performance in Ghandi. Ben has most recently provided the vocals for Bagheera in the much-praised remake of The Jungle Book.
Anna Friel – Brookside
Anna famously took the title of “first lesbian kiss on a British soap” in 1994 when she played Beth Jordache. Just four years later she made her first film appearance in Land Girls and only a few years ago in 2011 she appeared alongside Bradley Cooper in Limitless.
Ioan Gruffud – Pobol y Cwm
At the tender age of 14 Ioan joined the cast of Welsh language soap opera Pobol y Cwm (People of the Valley) and he stayed in the valley for three years. After training at RADA, Gruffud was offered numerous big roles seeing him star in Titanic in 1997. Coincidentally Ioan also voiced a character in 2016’s The Jungle Book – Colonel Hathi the elephant.
Keira Knightley – The Bill
In the same year that she starred in her first big screen film, Knightley played child burglar “Sheena Rose” in police soap The Bill. Her breakout role came in 2002’s Bend it like Beckham and after that there was no stopping her. Keira has starred in the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean films and in 2014 she was nominated for the “Best Supporting Actress” Academy Award for The Imitation Game
Sean Bean – The Bill
Another award-winning actor to make his debut on The Bill was Yorkshireman Sean Bean. In 1984 he was Horace Clark and then by 2001 he had not only starred in Black Beauty and Patriot Games but was about to embark of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Essentially every star to come out of Australia started their acting life on Neighbours and Home and Away, it must be their version of RADA. Hey, it seems to work – just take a look at this talented bunch!
Liam Hemsworth – Neighbours/Home and Away
After some guest appearances on Home and Away, Liam landed a recurring role as Josh Taylor on Neighbours. Liam actually auditioned for the lead role in Thor but eventually lost out to his older brother Chris. Luckily, he was then cast in The Last Song opposite his now fiancee, Miley Cyrus. He has since starred in the blockbuster Hunger Games trilogy.
Chris Hemsworth – Home and Away
Chris played Kim Hyde on Home and Away for a total of 171 episodes before leaving and joining Dancing with the Stars as a contestant (yes really)! After a brief role in Star Trek Chris really landed with his part as Marvel superhero Thor.
Margot Robbie – Neighbours
Margot had starred in a couple of films before spending three years on Neighbours as Donna Freedman. Her unforgettable performance in The Wolf of Wall Street has cemented her as a Hollywood star and she is set to appear in upcoming films The Legend of Tarzan and Suicide Squad.
Alan Dale – Neighbours
Dale became a sensation as Jim Robinson on Neighbours, a part which he played from 1985-93. He was killed off in 1993 after disputes with the production team and found it difficult to get work as he felt he was being typecast. No fear Alan; he has since starred in numerous successful TV shows (The West Wing, The OC) as well as recently appearing in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Isla Fisher – Neighbours
Isla spent three years as Shannon Reed on Ramsay Street and has starred in countless hit films since leaving in 1997. Wedding Crashers, Confessions of a Shopaholic and The Great Gatsby to name but a few.
Guy Pearce – Neighbours/Home and Away
Guy found roles on both the iconic Australian soaps as Mike Young (Neighbours) and David Croft (Home and Away). He has had starring roles in Memento, L.A. Confidential, Mildred Pierce and The King’s Speech.
Heath Ledger – Home and Away
Heartbreaker Heath played the rebellious Scott Irwin on Home and Away in 1997. The rest is history. Heath played many memorable parts in acclaimed films such as A Knight’s Tale, 10 Things I Hate About You and The Dark Knight until his untimely death in 2008.
Russell Crowe – Neighbours
Appearing in just four episodes in 1987, Crowe still makes our list. Movie-wise however, Crowe has been in them all: Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, American Gangster, Robin Hood and upcoming The Nice Guys.