7 Famous Movie Actresses Who Returned To The Small Screen

Published on February 26, 2015. Updated April 3, 2017

Many actors and actresses have realized that television is a better medium for story telling and characterization than movies. Because of this, many of them have given up on cinema and secured themselves roles on award-winning shows. Television isn’t just for established actors – there are many up and coming stars that get roles on great shows and are catapulted into stardom as a result. Right now, television is just so hot and it is probably going to keep getting more and more popular. This is why many actresses who primarily did movies have headed back to the small screen, including these 7 ladies!

7. Rachel McAdams

Back in the mid 2000s, Rachel McAdams was considered an “It girl.” She had starred in a number of commercially successful movies and she seemed well on her way to becoming a successful actress. In the midst of this, she took a break. Since coming back to Hollywood, things haven’t quite been the same for her. She’s starred in a number of romantic comedies, as well as a few dramas, but she hasn’t secured any really good, meaty parts in a long time. She changed all of that, however, when she accepted a role on the crime drama “True Detective,” alongside Vince Vaughn, Collin Farrell and Taylor Kitsch. This show was great for Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson’s careers, as they both received Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for their performances.

Going back to television is one of the smartest decisions that Rachel has ever made. She wasn’t getting any good roles in films, so “True Detective” was probably too good for her to pass up.

Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

6. Viola Davis

Viola Davis has made a career for herself as a supporting actress on the big screen. She’s had small roles in movies like “Traffic,” “Solaris,” “Knight and Day” and “Ender’s Game.” She also had a small role in “Doubt,” which earned her nominations from the Academy Award, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. Her supporting part in “The Help” secured her another Academy Award nod, as well as nominations from BAFTA, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. As of 2014, Davis has landed herself the role of a lifetime as the leading actress the television series “How to Get Away with Murder.”

So far, the ABC series has been a hit with viewers and critics. Most of them have praised Davis for her captivating performance. She’s received a nod from the Golden Globes and she took home the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series.

DFree / Shutterstock.com

5. Kathy Bates

Beginning in the ‘90s, Kathy Bates enjoyed a great deal of success on the big screen thanks to films like “Misery,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Dolores Claiborne,” “The Waterboy” and “Primary Colors.” She’s earned three Academy Award nominations during her career, winning one for her role in “Misery.” She has continued to appear on the big screen in supporting roles over the years and she’s also forged a formidable career as a director; however, her real success came in 2013 when she joined the cast of “American Horror Story” for the series’ third season. She will be returning for their fourth season as well, which is a major coup since the show is such a big hit with viewers and critics.

For her performance on the series, Bates has received an Emmy Award, as well as a Golden Globe nod and if things keep going this way we expect more nominations and wins.

Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

4. Jessica Lange

Jessica Lange is one of the most celebrated actresses of her generation. Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, she dominated the big screen. She had roles in “King Kong,” “Tootsie,” “Cape Fear” and “Losing Isaiah.” She was so skilled that she’s been nominated for six Academy Awards and she’s won two of them. Since the early 2000s, her career hasn’t been quite as hot as it once was. As a critically acclaimed actress, one would think that she would still get decent movie offers; however, it doesn’t seem like that is the case.

Lange has since turned her sights on television. In 2011, she landed a role in FX’s horror anthology series “American Horror Story.” The part was originally considered a supporting role for Constance Langdon; however, once Lange landed it, the co-creators expanded it considerably, just for her. The show has been a huge success and Lange is experiencing a resurgence in her popularity as a result. She’s also nabbed several coveted awards for her performance.

s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

3. Robin Wright

Robin Wright was never a huge movie star; however, her miserly ex husband, Sean Penn, certainly was. How she ever stayed married to him for so many years, we’ll never understand. Anyway, even though she never quite made into the big time, she has landed a number of coveted movie roles through the years. She landed the part of Princess Buttercup in “The Princess Bride,” as well as the part of Jenny Curran in “Forrest Gump.” For years, she has been more of a supporting player in movies.

This changed when she landed the role of Claire Underwood in the Netflix series “House of Cards.” She no longer has to rely on supporting parts in films – she is a leading lady on television. For her performance, she has been nominated for two Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe awards – winning one – and one Screen Actors Guild Award. Because of this show, she’s made a comeback.

Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

2. Claire Danes

Claire Danes began her career on the television show “My So-Called Life” and then she jumped right into movies. During the ‘90s, her movie career was red-hot. She had roles in some pretty big films, including “Little Women,” “Home for the Holidays” and “Romeo + Juliet.” Baz Luhrmann actually went so far as to call her “the Meryl Streep of her generation.” During the height of her fame, however, she took a break from her career to attend Yale. When she returned to film tree years later, she wasn’t able to really bounce back.

In 2011, her career changed when she got the part of Carrie Matheson on the Showtime series “Homeland.” Matheson is easily one of the strongest female characters on television and she is incredibly complex. Danes is absolutely fantastic in this role. She’s already won two Golden Globe Awards for her performance, as well as two Primetime Emmy Awards.

Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

1. Halle Berry

After winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as the troubled wife of an executed murderer in “Monster’s Ball,” Halle Berry became a bona fide star. She began commanding a reported $10 million per film. While the money was coming in, many of the parts she took were questionable at best, like “Catwoman.” The film was bad and her performance was on par. She ended up taking home the Razzie for Worst Actress that year.

In 2013, Berry decided to resurrect her film career by signing onto the CBS drama series “Extant.” She plays an astronaut who finds herself pregnant after returning from a 13-month solo space mission. The series has received favorable reviews so far, with critics praising Berry for her strong performance. Even better for her, she’s the executive producer of the series. We think going back to television was one of the best decisions she ever made!

Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com
Netflix December 2020: What’s Coming & Going


Netflix December 2020: What’s Coming & Going

- Click Here to Close Menu -