While some actors start from big projects becoming overnight stars, others start small, and grow into super stardom. Soap operas have helped these stars get their names and faces out there, gaining fan-love from people who tune in regularly.
Since their soap days, they have gone on to become household names, and take home multiple awards. Because the list is inexhaustible, here is a look at more famous actors who got their start from soap operas.
10/10 Justin Hartley – Passions / The Young and the Restless
Aside from his long and controversial romance history, the actor also has a long television resume. Now, he is mostly known for hitting it big-time in the award-winning show This Is Us, where he was a lead character all through its six seasons. Before then, he made appearances in not one, but two daytime shows. In his first ever role, he was a series regular playing Nicholas Foxworth ‘Fox’ Crane in NBC’s Passions from 2002 to 2006. He then went on to star in another soap The Young and the Restless for two years from 2014 to 2016, where he received a Daytime Emmy nomination.
9/10 Jensen Ackles – Days of Our Lives
Although the actor has had minor television credits before Days of Our Lives, the latter launched the actor’s career. He played Eric Brady on the soap from 1997 to 2000, earning several Daytime Emmy nominations. Now, he’s mostly known for his main role in CW’s highly successful supernatural television series Supernatural, which he starred in for its fifteen seasons. He currently stars in Supernatural spinoff The Winchester, and in season three of The Boys
8/10 Kelly Ripa – All My Children
Now, the actress has added successful and longtime daytime talk show host to her resume, but she once started her Hollywood career on daytime television. She starred on All My Children as Haylen Vaughan from 1990 up until her departure in 2002 to focus on co-hosting Live With Regis and Kelly (now Live With Kelly and Ryan). She returned as Hayley for two episodes in 2010 for the series 40th anniversary. Thankfully, the role introduced her to her now husband of 26 years Mark Consuelos.
7/10 Mark Consuelos – All My Children
In a role that jump started his career and the start of something long-term with onscreen wife Kelly Ripa, Consuelos landed his first ever role as Mateo Santos on All My Children from 1995 to 2002. Since the show, he has made regular television appearances in Missing, Hope & Faith, Riverdale, and Queen of the South.
6/10 Julianne Moore – As the World Turns
The Oscar-winning actress won a Daytime Emmy for her role as identical twins Frannie and Sabrina Hughes in As the World Turns from 1985 to 1988. She made a cameo appearance in 2010 near the end of the show’s run where she got to reprise her role as Frannie. In a show that launched her career, she has thrived in Hollywood with major acting credits in The End of the Affair, The Hours, Crazy, Stupid, Love, and Still Alice.
5/10 Josh Duhamel – All My Children
Josh Duhamel dominated the soap opera era back in the late ’90s and early 2000s when he played Leo Du Pres in All My Children from 1999 to 2002. He won a Daytime Emmy for this role. However, his character was killed off when he left, but he got to briefly reprise his role in 2011, visiting his onscreen love Greenlee (Rebecca Budwig) in a dream. Since his soap days, he has starred in Transformers and its sequels, New Year’s Eve, and Love Simon. His upcoming film Shotgun Wedding is set to be released on January 27, 2023, on Prime Video, where he stars alongside Jennifer Lopez.
4/10 Lindsay Lohan – Another World
Now the comeback queen is doing just fine with the recently released Netflix rom-Com Falling For Christmas. A year before Lohan landed her breakout role in The Parent Trap, the Mean Girls actress appeared as a series regular on Another World at the age of 10 where she played Alli Fowler from 1996 to 1997. She had previously appeared on another soap Guiding Light in 1993.
3/10 Ryan Phillippe – One Life to Live
Phillips’s television debut was a pretty groundbreaking one at that time. He portrayed Billy Douglas on One Life to Live, the first openly gay teenager on daytime television from 1992 to 1993. Since landing this role at only 18, he has gotten busy with other television projects like Damages, Secret and Lies, Shooter and Big Sky. His film credits also include I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions, The Lincoln Lawyer and the 2022 thriller film Collide alongside Kat Graham.
2/10 Alec Baldwin – The Doctors
The actor and occasional SNL host has also had his fair share of soaps appearances. His first television role was Billy Aldrich on The Doctors, where he appeared from 1980 to 1982. He also appeared in Knots Landing from 1984 to 1985 as manipulative preacher Joshua Rush. The actor is well known for his roles in Beetlejuice, The Hunt for Red October, The Departed, Married to the Mob, and others.
1/10 Hayden Panettiere – One Life To Live / Guiding Light
The actress who is known for her beloved roles in NBC’s Heroes, Scream, and Nashville has done well for herself since she came into the spotlight. She made her soap opera debut in One Life To Live where she played Sarah Roberts from 1994 to 1997. In another main role, she went on to play Lizzie Spaulding on Guiding Light from 1997 to 2000.