Film Career: Spacey had proven his mettle as a stronghold of film, television, and stage when he broke out with a Oscar-winning supporting turn in 1996’s The Usual Suspects, which followed a deliciously creepy turn in Se7en and preceded a campily villainous role in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In 1999, Spacey scored the Best Actor Oscar for his anarchic yet empathetic take on suburban ennui in American Beauty.
Transition Role: House of Cards, 2013
Small-Screen Success: Spacey is sly like a fox (and much more deadly) as ascendant Beltway politician Frank Underwood. Despite originating as a high-risk Netflix original, the role has scored Spacey both Golden Globe and Emmy nods. —Lanford Beard
Film Career: Lopez’s first major film role was in the biopic Selena, which led to a successful music career and parts in Out of Sight, Anaconda, The Cell, Monster-in-Law, Maid in Manhattan, and The Boy Next Door.
Transition Roles: American Idol, Shades of Blue
Small-Screen Success: After transitioning from film and dance to music, J.Lo’s second major television crossover after American Idol came in 2016 with the premiere of the crime drama Shades of Blue, which was directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Barry Levinson and drew 8.55 million viewers during its premiere with Lopez as its headliner. —Joey Nolfi
Film Career: Lange’s long and storied career began with her breakout role as the Angel of Death in All That Jazz and reached its zenith in the ’80s and ’90s, when she snagged two Oscars, four more nominations, and oodles of Golden Globes (9 noms, 4 wins).
Transition Role: American Horror Story, 2011
Small-Screen Success: Camp aficionados swooned when Lange took the screen as mysterious, murderous Constance in FX’s horror anthology, and so did critics; Lange won Supporting Actress awards at the Golden Globes and the Emmys for the show’s first season. And when Horror Story returned for another run, it had been retooled to make Lange the star — just as God and Ryan Murphy intended it. —Hillary Busis
Film Career: Kirsten Dunst grew up in front of audiences on the big screen, with large roles in major films like Interview with the Vampire, Little Women, and Jumanji before her 14th birthday. Dunst would go on to star in blockbusters (Spider-Man) and smaller works by esteemed directors like Sofia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides, Marie-Antoinette), Cameron Crowe (Elizabethtown), and Lars von Trier (Melancholia, for which she won the prestigious Best Actress award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival).
Transition Role: Fargo, 2015
Small-Screen Success: Dunst joined the second season of the FX anthology series inspired by the 1996 Coen brothers’ movie of the same name. For her role as Peggy Blumquist, a small-town beautician who tries to cover up her own hit-and-run crime, Dunst received a Golden Globe nomination in the Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film category, though she ultimately lost to Lady Gaga (American Horror Story: Hotel). —Joey Nolfi
Film Career: After a prolific career in film, Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson starred together in the 2005 Oscar-winning drama Hustle & Flow, for which Howard was also nominated in the Best Actor category..
Transition Roles: Empire, 2015
Small-Screen Success: Fox’s Empire has amassed a huge following since its 2015 debut, attracting 15.82 million viewers during its season one finale. Henson won the 2016 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama Series, and was also nominated for a 2015 Primetime Emmy Award in the same category. —Joey Nolfi
Film Career: Baldwin captivated the world with his role in 1990’s The Hunt for Red October. He maintained that momentum with an array of popcorn roles and parts in indies including David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross and State and Main. For his performance in 2003’s gritty gambling drama The Cooler, he was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and the Screen Actors Guild Award.
Transition Role: 30 Rock, 2006
Small-Screen Success: As the corporate smoothy Jack Donaghy, Baldwin has received two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, and seven Screen Actors Guild Awards (and 9 more nods). —Erin Strecker
Film Career: Washington spent the first half of her career supporting leading men in Oscar bait like Ray and The Last King of Scotland. She also starred opposite the Wayans brother in creepy CGI comedy Little Man. Eh, can’t win ’em all.
Transition Role: Scandal, 2012
Small-Screen Success: Washington escaped the wife trap thanks to Shonda Rhimes, who cast her as ultra-talented fixer Olivia Pope in this addictive political thriller. The role resulted in an Emmy nomination in 2013 for Washington — the first black female lead in a network drama in nearly 40 years — and solid odds she’ll be a contender this year too. —Hillary Busis
Film Career: Sutherland had roles in dozens of movies prior to 24, including The Lost Boys, Stand by Me, A Few Good Men, Flatliners, and A Time To Kill.
Transition Role: 24, 2001
Small-Screen Success: Sutherland found award-worthy ground playing the iconic Jack Bauer, a role that brought him an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. (He was also nominated for six more Emmys, five more Globes, and four more SAG awards for his portrayal of Bauer.) Four years after the series wrapped in 2010, Sutherland rewarded 24 loyalists with a return to his signature role in 24: Live Another Day. —Erin Strecker
Film Career: After scoring an Oscar nomination for her first feature film role (1983’s The World According to Garp), Close became one of the most celebrated movie stars of the ’80s, banking four more nods throughout the decade. Several of her films, including Fatal Attraction and The Big Chill, were as popular with audiences as they were with critics.
Transition Role: Damages, 2007
Small-Screen Success: Close won raves for her performance as brilliant, manipulative lawyer Patty Hewes, as well as a passel of awards — including two Emmys, a Golden Globe, and two additional nominations for each — during the series’ five-year run. Close channeled her revived popularity into finally completing passion project Albert Nobbs, a film that helped her nab even more Golden Globe and Oscar noms. —Hillary Busis
Film Career: Before receiving two Oscar nominations for her performances in Doubt and The Help, Viola Davis took on smaller parts in a wide range of films, from Out of Sight and Traffic to Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and Disturbia. Combined, Davis’ filmography has collectively earned nearly $1 billion at the U.S. box office.
Transition Role: How to Get Away with Murder, 2014
Small-Screen Success: Though she appeared as a series lead on the short-lived CBS drama Century City from 2004-2005, Davis’ true crossover success came with the premiere of How to Get Away with Murder in 2014, which saw the actress joining the primetime family as part of ABC’s wildly popular lineup of Shondaland shows. Davis has thus far won two SAG Awards and an Emmy for her work on the show. —Joey Nolfi
Film Career: After starring in Red Dawn, Sheen had his breakout role in Platoon. He went on to star in an eclectic mix of films, including Wall Street, Young Guns, Major League, and Hot Shots!
Transition Role: Spin City, 2000
Small-Screen Success: Taking over a role from beloved Michael J. Fox should have been a thankless task. Instead, Sheen shined, winning a Golden Globe for his performance. After wrapping Spin, he famously went on to star in the ratings smash Two and a Half Men. —Erin Strecker
Film Career: How much time do you have? Field came a long way from her Flying Nun days in the years after 1970, scoring two Oscars, two Globes, and six more Globe nominations for iconic films like Norma Rae and Steel Magnolias.
Transition Role: Brothers & Sisters, 2006
Small-Screen Success: ABC’s sprawling family drama featured plenty of big-name actors, including Calista Flockhart and Rob Lowe — but Field, as staunch matriarch Nora Walker, anchored both the clan and the show. After taking home an Emmy and two more nominations for both the Emmys and the Globes, Field returned to films. Perhaps you’ve heard of her work in a little movie called Lincoln? —Hillary Busis
Matthew McConaughey, Rachel McAdams, Colin Farrell
HBO’s True Detective offered the major television debuts for a number of Hollywood actors, including season one’s Matthew McConaughey and season two stars Rachel McAdams and Colin Farrell. Woody Harrelson, Vince Vaughn, and Taylor Kitsch rounded out the mystery/thriller’s all-star cast throughout its first two seasons. —Joey Nolfi
Film Career: Buscemi is the prototypical ”That Guy” of film, with unforgettable parts in everything from Reservoir Dogs and Fargo to The Big Lebowski and The Wedding Singer. He’s also stepped behind the camera for films Trees Lounge, Lonesome Jim, Interview, and several TV episodes.
Transition Role: Boardwalk Empire, 2010
Small-Screen Success: After Buscemi was nominated for an Emmy for his 2004 turn on The Sopranos, it seemed only natural that a reunion with Sopranos executive producer Terence Winter would bear fruit. Whether Buscemi knew the role of Nucky Thompson would launch him from a character actor to a legitimate household name is uncertain, but his Golden Globe and SAG awards (plus two Emmy noms) speak for themselves. —Erin Strecker
Film Career: With a series of big-budget blockbusters under his belt, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made a successful leap from professional wrestler to legitimate movie star in films like The Scorpion King, the Fast and the Furious series, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and San Andreas.
Transition Role: Ballers, 2015
Small-Screen Success: Shortly after its premiere episode scored an impressive 8.3 million viewers across HBO’s various platforms, Johnson’s critically well-received HBO comedy, Ballers, was picked up for a second season, which is set to air sometime in 2016. The role marks Johnson’s first as a series lead, in which he plays Spencer Strasmore, a retired NFL player forging a new career path as a financial advisor. —Joey Nolfi
Film Career: Sedgwick got her start in soaps but quickly turned to films in the ’90s, playing wives and girlfriends in flicks like Singles and Phenomenon.
Transition Role: The Closer, 2005
Small-Screen Success: Before 2005, Sedgwick happily identified as Mrs. Kevin Bacon, but thanks to the show, now she’ll always be recognized first and foremost as Brenda Leigh Johnson, a brilliant cop with a weakness for candy and a knack for winning awards (one Golden Globe and five more nominations, plus one Emmy and four additional nods). As one of the first movie actors to find a home on primetime in the mid-’00s, Sedgwick’s not just a small-screen marvel; she’s also a trendsetter. —Hillary Busis
Film Career: Jeff Daniels’ career in the film industry includes 35 years of lead and supporting roles, including work in Dumb & Dumber, Pleasantville, The Hours, The Squid and the Whale, Good Night, and Good Luck, and Steve Jobs.
Transition Role: The Newsroom
Small-Screen Success: Daniels headlined the Aaron Sorkin-created HBO drama The Newsroom from 2012 to 2014, earning two SAG Award nominations, one Golen Globe nomination, and three Emmy nominations for his performance on the show. —Joey Nolfi
Film Career: Born to famous parents Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern, Laura Dern’s acting chops are in her blood. Dern’s two Academy Award nominations for Rambling Rose and Wild came 14 years apart, with roles in movies helmed by Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park), Alexander Payne (Citizen Ruth), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master) sandwiched in between. Dern is also set to star in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII.
Transition Role: Enlightened, 2011
Small-Screen Success: Dern teamed up with actor/director Mike White to create the HBO series Enlightened, which ran on HBO from 2011 to 2013. Despite low ratings, Enlightened was universally praised by critics and audiences alike. Dern won the award for Best Actress in a Television Series – Comedy at the 69th Golden Globes for her performance as Amy Jellicoe. Dern’s real-life mother, actress Diane Ladd, also played Jellicoe’s mother, Helen, on the show. —Joey Nolfi
Film Career: Griffith made an unforgettable entrance on film with 1957’s A Face in the Crowd. His performance as a supposed yokel who was, in fact, manipulative and politically minded was described as having ”thunderous vigor.”
Transition Role: The Andy Griffith Show, 1960
Small-Screen Success: Unquestionable notoriety would ultimately be reward enough for Griffith. Though he was overlooked time and again for Primetime Emmys, his household-name status was solidified during the eight-year run of The Andy Griffith Show and continued as he played the surprisingly savvy titular drawling attorney on Matlock from 1986-95. —Lanford Beard
Film Career: Joan Allen’s nearly 40-year career as an actress includes roles on stage and screen. She won a Tony Award for her first Broadway leading role in Burn This, while her performances in Nixon, The Crucible, and The Contender earned her three Oscar nominations.
Transition Roles: Luck, The Killing, The Family
Small-Screen Success: Allen had a recurring role on the short-lived HBO series Luck, though she later joined the cast of Netflix’s fourth season revival of The Killing as a special guest star on all six episodes. Allen began headlining ABC’s The Family, created by frequent Shonda Rhimes collaborator Jenna Bans, in 2016. —Joey Nolfi
Film Career: After breaking out in Almost Famous, Deschanel made a name for herself by playing unorthodox objects of desire in light fare like Elf and 500 Days of Summer.
Transition Role: New Girl, 2011
Small-Screen Success: Deschanel’s sitcom became Fox’s breakout hit of the 2011-2012 TV season, helping Deschanel secure her status as quirk’s leading lady — and win nods at both the Golden Globes and the Emmys. And she did it all in kitten heels! —Hillary Busis
Film Career: After winning an Oscar for playing Mitch in 1951’s A Streetcar Named Desire, where do you go next? If you’re Karl Malden, you follow strength with strength, starring in On the Waterfront, Pollyanna, Birdman of Alcatraz, Gypsy, How the West Was Won, and Patton — for starters.
Transition Role: The Streets of San Francisco, 1972
Small-Screen Success: As the widower Lieutenant Mike Stone, Malden received four Emmy nods for ABC’s hard-boiled detective drama. More than three decades later, Malden’s co-star Michael Douglas presented Malden with a SAG Lifetime Achievement Award. —Lanford Beard
Jamie Lee Curtis
Film Career: The daughter of horror icon Janet Leigh, who was famously slashed to death during the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Jamie Lee Curtis flexed her own horror chops in her feature film debut, Halloween. Since then, Curtis has taken on an identity as one of the most prominent “final girls” in any horror film. Since then, Curtis has held multiple roles on the big screen, including A Fish Called Wanda, True Lies, Freaky Friday, and Christmas with the Kranks.
Transition Role: Scream Queens, 2015
Small-Screen Success: Following Curtis’ leading role in the ABC sitcom Anything But Love (1989 – 1992), the actress returned to primetime in 2015 with a starring role in the Fox comedy series Scream Queens, created by American Horror Story‘s Ryan Murphy, playing Cathy Munsch, the murderous dean of the fictional Wallace University. In January 2016, the series was picked up for a second season. Though not officially confirmed, Curtis is expected to return. —Joey Nolfi
Film Career: A true triple threat, Carroll was a proto-reality TV star, scoring her breakthrough (and a whopping $1,000) on a 1954 episode of Chance of a Lifetime. When not starring in Broadway productions, she built an impressive résumé with supporting parts in a big-screen adaptation of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and 1961’s Paris Blues, starring Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, and Joanne Woodward.
Transition Role: Julia, 1968
Small-Screen Success: Carroll made history as the first African-American leading lady on television. The performance scored her a Golden Globe (plus another nomination) and an Emmy nod. The respect of her peers boosted her film career, later landing the title role in the 1974 film Claudine, for which she received Oscar and Globe nominations. She has continued to work primarily in television and has earned two more Emmy nominations for guest spots on A Different World and Grey’s Anatomy. —Lanford Beard
Film Career: At age 18, America Ferrara made her big-screen debut in the critically-acclaimed HBO drama Real Women Have Curves alongside Lupe Ontiveros and George Lopez. Subsequent roles included The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (and its sequel), Our Family Wedding, End of Watch, and How to Train Your Dragon.
Transition Roles: Ugly Betty, Superstore
Small-Screen Success: After her breakout television role as the star of ABC’s Ugly Betty (which won the star a Golden Globe in 2007) from 2006 to 2010, Ferrara returned to TV in 2016 as the lead on the NBC comedy Superstore, which was recently renewed for a second season. —Joey Nolfi
Film Career: A stand-up comedian and writer, Leary found a following with late-night appearances and bits on MTV’s Remote Control. He parlayed his wisecracking persona into a string of mid-’90s leading roles, including The Ref, Operation Dumbo Drop, and Two If by Sea (which he penned), before finding franchise success as the voice of Diego in the Ice Age series.
Transition Role: Rescue Me, 2004
Small-Screen Success: Leary co-created Rescue Me. The role not only scored him two Emmy nods in 2006 and 2007, but also gave him dramatic bona fides. With this boost, he later landed the Emmy-winning role of real-life political consultant Michael Whouley in the 2000-election-inspired made-for-TV movie Recount, as well as in tentpole flicks like 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. —Erin Strecker
Film Career: Alongside the likes of Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Claudette Colbert, Stanwyck was one of the preeminent actresses of the women’s films of the 1930s and ’40s. She was nominated for four Oscars from 1938 to ’49, thanks to her roles in classics including the three-hanky drama Stella Dallas, Howard Hawks’ Ball of Fire, the Billy Wilder noir Double Indemnity, and Sorry, Wrong Number opposite Burt Lancaster.
Transition Role: The Big Valley, 1965
Small-Screen Success: Stanwyck had already planted roots in TV with her Emmy for 1961’s The Barbara Stanwyck Show, but it was her turn as frontier matriarch Victoria Barkley (the female answer to Bonanza‘s Ben Cartwright) that paved the way for a flourishing small-screen career. She won an Emmy for the role (plus two more nominations and three Golden Globe nods) and went on to receive two more trophies (an Emmy and a Globe) for her performance in 1983 miniseries The Thorn Birds, ultimately receiving special honors from both the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy. —Lanford Beard
Justin Theroux and Liv Tyler
Justin Theroux and Liv Tyler found success in movies throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Tyler starred in That Thing You Do!, Armageddon, and the Lord of the Rings series, while Theroux acted in Zoolander, Mulholland Drive, American Psycho, and Miami Vice in addition to writing films like Tropic Thunder and Iron Man 2. In 2014, both actors found roles opposite each other as co-leads on the HBO thriller The Leftovers, which will conclude after three seasons. —Joey Nolfi
Film Career: The handsome MacMurray, Stanwyck’s Double Indemnity co-star, got his start in Hollywood in 1930 and became one of the silver screen’s highest-paid actors during the early 1940s as he played opposite such luminaries as Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, and Carole Lombard. Despite an inevitable career stall, he found a resurgence in 1959 when he took on a paternal role in The Shaggy Dog.
Transition Role: My Three Sons, 1960
Small-Screen Success: MacMurray’s widower captivated audiences for 12 years, and the show was second only to The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet as TV’s longest running live-action family sitcom. MacMurray earned a reputation for being a clever contract finagler, and his iconic Absent-Minded Professor series was filmed while he was on Sons‘ bankroll. —Lanford Beard
Film Career: British actress Emily Mortimer’s career in film has spanned two decades and dozens of pictures. She’s had leading roles in movies by directors Woody Allen (Match Point), Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island), and Hayao Miyazaki (Howl’s Moving Castle). In 2003, Mortimer won the Independent Spirit Award for her work in Nicole Holofcener’s Lovely & Amazing.
Transition Roles: Doll & Em, The Newsroom
Small-Screen Success: Mortimer first transitioned to television full time in 2012, playing news producer MacKenzie McHale in Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, which ran on HBO until 2014. Her second HBO series, Doll & Em, is a dramatization of her real-life friendship with actress Dolly Wells, who co-stars and serves alongside Mortimer as co-creator of the show. —Joey Nolfi