The Winchesters debuted on The CW in October 2022, and it brought Jensen Ackles back to the world of Supernatural where he narrates the show’s bookends about brother Winchester’s parents. One of the series’ selling points is Ackles, who fans fell in love with as Dean Winchester in the original series. What many fans don’t know is that he started his career as a soap opera star.
It’s quite unusual. When people become famous for soap operas, they often last a lifetime in the medium. It’s not uncommon to see soap stars embody the same characters for decades. It’s also common to see stars bouncing off beat soap operas and never tackling other modes of entertainment. However, some big stars got their start on soaps before they hit the big time.
Jensen Ackles (Days of Our Lives)
Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki starred as Dean and Sam Winchester for 15 seasons on Supernatural, making it one of the most enduring fantasy TV shows in history. While both actors have mostly remained TV stars, with very few movie roles to their name, it might come as a surprise to know that Ackles started out on a soap opera.
Ackles starred in Days of Our Lives as Eric Brady. He was 18, and he played the role from 1997 to 2000. Ackles had referenced the role before, and even as Dean Winchester on Supernatural, he poked fun at his soap opera past. However, he pulled it off, earning an Emmy nomination in his first year on the show. “It’s always amazing for me, to have this kind of honor in front of so many people, and to be recognized, in such a way, it’s amazing,” he said in an interview on experience.
Demi Moore (General Hospital)
Demi Moore became a superstar as part of the Brat Pack in the 1980s. After her early roles in films like St. Elmo’s Fire and Ghost, she became a major Hollywood star. Fans today know her mostly from the Scream franchise, but before all that, she was a soap opera star.
Moore starred on the daytime soap opera General Hospital from 1982 to 1983. Her role was that of an investigative reporter named Jackie Templeton. His character left Port Charles, allowing Moore to move on and become a major movie star. “I had no idea what I was doing,” Moore told Soap Central of this time in her life. “But the soap opera was not where I wanted to be. It was just a starting point. »
Brad Pitt (Another World)
Most people remember Brad Pitt from his first appearance in the movie Thelma & Louise as a shirtless cowboy. However, long before he became one of Hollywood’s hottest men, Pitt landed his very first television role on the soap opera Another World.
That role came in 1987 when Pitt appeared on the daytime soap opera as a basketball player named Chris. The episodes aired on May 14 and 15, 1987. This appearance led to several prime-time guest roles before he finally broke out in 1991 with Thelma & Louise.
Sarah Michelle Gellar (All My Children)
Sarah Michelle Gellar made a name for herself as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, before killing nearly every vampire that entered Sunnydale, she was a major soap opera star. Gellar starred on the ABC daytime soap opera All My Children as Kendall Hall from 1993 to 1995.
She won a Daytime Emmy Award for her role before eventually transitioning to Buffy. Gellar rarely acts anymore. She hadn’t appeared in a film since 2009 until she appeared in two in 2022. She returned to All My Children for a series special in 2011. “We now live in a world where my children don’t don’t even really know what a soap opera is, so anything I can do to continue the legacy that I’m very proud of,” Gellar said in a recent interview with TVInsider.
Leonardo DiCaprio (Santa Barbara)
Leonardo DiCaprio has become one of Hollywood’s most respected stars, thanks in part to his longtime work with Martin Scorsese. He won an Oscar and three Golden Globe Awards, but DiCaprio started out as a child actor.
While his biggest breakout came at the age of 19 on What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, he made his television debut. While an early major role was the Primetime sitcom Growing Pains, he started earlier in his childhood on the ’80s soap opera Santa Barbara. At the age of 16, he played a young Mason Capwell. He had early success winning an award at the Young Artist Awards for his performance in the soap opera.
Morgan Freeman (Another World)
Morgan Freeman is one of Hollywood’s most respected veterans and his voice alone can sell a story. Before becoming an Oscar-winning actor, Freeman starred in the soap opera Another World.
Before becoming a successful movie star, he had roles in soap operas like Ryan’s Hope and Another World in the 1980s. He was on The Electric Company before that, but soap operas helped put Freeman on the map. card in Hollywood. In an interview, Freeman said that “little bits of television, soap operas, extras in movies” are what helped him take his big leap forward.
Mark Hamill (General Hospital)
Believe it or not, before taking on the role of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Mark Hamill got his start as a soap opera star. While one of the mightiest Jedi warriors in a galaxy far, far away, he was also Kent Murray on General Hospital.
Hamill was on the soap opera from 1972 to 1973. It was also something Hamill loved. He once tweeted that some of the happiest months of his career were while working on a soap opera.
Michael B. Jordan (All My Children)
Michael B. Jordan is a huge Hollywood player at only 35 years old. He’s been in huge franchises, appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Panther and Rocky Saga’s Creed. He also created his own production company.
Early in his career, he starred in the daytime soap opera All My Children. Ironically, in 2003 he replaced his Black Panther co-star Chadwick Boseman as Reggie Montgomery, a troubled teenager on the show. In an interview, Jordan told IndieWire that Boseman’s choice to leave the show helped launch his career, saying “what people do now can directly affect what others do in the future.”
Laurence Fishburne (One Life to Live)
Most fans know Laurence Fishburne from his role as Morpheus in The Matrix movies. Older fans might remember his breakthrough role in Apocalypse Now. However, before all of that, Fishburne was a One Life to Live child star.
He starred on the show from 1973 to 1976 as Josh Hall, a troubled adopted teenager. He ended up winning an award for his role as one of the first prominent black families on daytime soap operas. One Life to Live replaced him when Fishburne left the show to appear in Apocalypse Now. Former star Ellen Holly remembered Fishburne as one of the brightest young actors to appear with her on the soap opera.
Tommy Lee Jones (One Life to Live)
Tommy Lee Jones started off performing on Broadway, but when he moved to television he immediately landed on a soap opera. This was a stint on One Life to Live from 1971 to 1975, where Jones played Dr. Mark Toland. He was also a character that only Jones played, as he left the show upon his character’s death. For his part, Jones has stated in interviews that he did not enjoy this period and was happy when he finally terminated his contract with the soap opera.
Five years after leaving the world of daytime soap operas, Jones landed her first Golden Globe nomination for the film Coal Miner’s Daughter. Since that time, he’s appeared in everything from the Batman movies and the Fugitive franchise to the Men in Black and Coen Brothers films.