You might be surprised by how many mega-stars actually got their start acting on daytime soap operas.
Even if you’ve been a huge fan of the series they appeared on, chances are the roles they became widely known for have made you completely forget about their soap opera roots.
Acting on one of these daytime dramas is a great way for aspiring performers to really hone their craft. Because they air every single weekday, actors have to learn their lines quickly, be able to change them on the spot, and work to immediately move on to the next scene. And of course, there’s no emotion that goes untouched for pretty much every character on these shows.
Take a look to remember which of your favorite actors appeared on soap operas early in their careers.
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1. Meg Ryan
Meg drew an impressive audience of 20 million viewers to As the World Turns when her character, Betsy Stewart, married her sweetheart, Steve Andropoulos. She was on the show from 1982 to 1984.
2. Brad Pitt
Before his big break in Thelma and Louise, Brad turned heads during two episodes of Another World, back in 1987.
3. Sarah Michelle Gellar
Beginning in 1993, the former vampire slayer spent two years honing her acting craft on All My Children, playing Kendall Hart, daughter of Susan Lucci’s notorious Erica Kane.
4. John Stamos
From 1982 to 1984 — before leaving to become Uncle Jessie on Full House — John steamed up the screen as musician Blackie Parrish on General Hospital.
5. Ricky Martin
Ricky was another musical character on General Hospital. He played Miguel Morez from 1994 to 1996, rocking some seriously impressive long hair.
6. Ryan Phillippe
Ryan played Billy Douglas on One Life to Live between 1993 and 1994. Billy made history as the first openly homosexual character on a daytime soap opera.
7. Leonardo DiCaprio
Most of us probably consider Leo’s role on Growing Pains to be his earliest role, but he appeared as a young Mason Capwell on Santa Barbara even farther back — in 1990.
8. Kevin Bacon
Before inspiring us all to cut footloose in his big-screen breakthrough, Kevin played troubled teen Tim “T.J.” Werner on Guiding Light, from 1980 to 1981.
9. Alec Baldwin
From 1980 to 1982, Alec played Billy Allison Aldrich on The Doctors — until a tragic accident caused his character’s untimely death.
10. Morgan Freeman
After leaving The Electric Company, Morgan spent two years playing Dr. Roy Bingham on Another World, starting in 1982.
11. David Hasselhoff
The Baywatch stud took over the role of Snapper Foster on The Young and the Restless in 1975. He lasted for seven years and also briefly reprised the role in 2010.
12. Demi Moore
Just a few years before joining the “Brat Pack” for St. Elmo’s Fire, Demi got her first big break in 1982, playing Jackie Templeton for a year on General Hospital.
13. Tommy Lee Jones
We think of Tommy as a stoic action star, but from 1971 to 1975 he was known as Mark Toland on One Life to Live.
14. Mark Hamill
Mark played an orphaned teen named Kent Murray for two years on General Hospital, starting in 1972.
15. Kathy Bates
Back in 1984, the Oscar-winning actress got good practice for her breakout role in Misery when she played Susan Lucci’s gruff cellmate on All My Children.
Were you surprised by any of these former soap stars?
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