These actors and actresses might have been stars on the small screen with their own hit TV shows, and even appeared to have a bright future in film, but when it came to the big screen they just didn’t break through.
Check out these 15 TV Actors With Failed Movie Careers.
At one point Kyla Pratt was one of the hottest young Black actresses in Hollywood, starring in Dr. Dolittle 1 & 2, Love and Basketball, UPN’s “One on One,” and Disney’s “The Proud Family” animated series. Naturally, we expected that Kyla would move further into film as she matured, but her roles have been nothing to write home about. She starred in the Fat Albert live action film, Hotel for Dogs, and three more Dr. Dolittle movies which went straight to DVD.
Chad Michael Murray
When Chad Michael Murray stepped on the scene for his breakout role in 2003 as the lead of CW’s “One Tree Hill,” he seemed poised for an eventual budding film career. Things didn’t quite pan out that way, though. Despite his amazing good looks, Murray hasn’t done much film work since the days of his high success in Freaky Friday, A Cinderella Story, and House of Wax between 2003-2006. After being fired from “One Tree Hill” in 2009, he’s only done a handful of films, most of which were made for TV.
Both beautiful and talented, Alyssa Milano is one of the more enigmatic actresses in Hollywood. The former child star is almost exclusively a career TV movie/direct -to-video (DVD) actress. After her time on “Who’s the Boss” and her role as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daughter in the movie Commando, Milano went on to enjoy the most fame on the wildy popular ’90s melodrama Melrose Place and later CW’s Charmed.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Though Sarah Michelle Gellar got her start on the daytime drama “All My Children,” unlike many, she was able to establish an acting career outside of soaps. She played the butt-kicking, vampire-slaying cheerleader on the hit series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” giving girls everywhere a tough but feminine role model to look up to. Both pretty and popular, Gellar looked ready to take on the film industry, but her career seems to have peaked with films I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions, and The Grudge.
Sweet little Ashley Banks grew up to be quite a beauty, but if fans of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air expected to see that face all over film and TV after the show ended, they were in for quite a disappointment. Tatyana Ali‘s biggest film to date is the 1997 urban comedy Fakin’ da Funk, while she enjoyed only moderate success with her music career in the 90s. Up until 2010 her film and television work had been very scanty. In 2010 she starred in her own series “Love That Girl.” Unfortunately, it was canceled last year. She is now appearing in “Second Generation Wayans.” Ali is, however, a Harvard graduate with humanitarian endeavors.
Neve Campbell is a prime example of how starring in a hugely successful franchise does not guarantee a hugely successful film career. She may have been able to scream her way into horror movie history, but the film series catapulted her into stardom with all the force of a limp rubber band. After her success with The Craft and Scream 1 & 2, Campbell appeared in 54, Wild Things, Three to Tango, and Drowning Mona, of which only Wild Things was a commercial and critical success. Subsequently, her career has been filled with mostly obscure independent films.
Jennifer Love Hewitt
The second most popular scream queen of the ’90s, Jennifer Love Hewitt, had a lot going for her: she was cute, bubbly, and a fan favorite. The down-to-earth actress fared just about the same as her “Party of Five” co-star and scary movie contemporary, Neve Campbell, achieving the bulk of her success in the late ’90s with I Know What You Did Last Summer, Can’t Hardly Wait, and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Her last big film was opposite Jackie Chan in 2002’s Tuxedo. She has since returned to her TV roots.
Despite having been one of the longest running comedians on Saturday Night Live, Tim Meadows did not utilize the show as springboard for his film career the way many of his fellow SNL alum have. His rather short filmography in his 20-year career only includes one film with a leading role: The Ladie’s Man (2000).
James Van Der Beek
James Van Der Beek was the hottest thing going in the late ’90s-early 2000’s as an angst-laden teenager with a pretentiously academic vocabulary in Dawson’s Creek. The show was a verifiable hit, but oddly led Van Der Beek to only one successful movie (Varsity Blues) and one flop (Texas Rangers). Aside from the movie Rules of Attraction, he hasn’t done much in the way of feature films.
This former Mighty Ducks star always carried a certain charm about him, which made him one of the more interesting characters on Dawson’s Creek. During the heyday of the series, Joshua Jackson starred in a string of popular films including Urban Legend, Cruel Intentions, and The Skulls, but he never managed to actualize the George Clooney potential he seemed to carry with such ease. He did, however, obtain television success once more with J.J. Abram’s Fringe from 2008 to 2013.
Shemar Moore got his start on the daytime soap “The Young and the Restless,” starring on the show for eight years before leaving and then returning 3 years later. Moore, who now stars as a regular cast member on the CBS crime drama “Criminal Minds,” has been maintaining a very modest television career and an even smaller film run. He only has a handful of movies under his belt, none of which are particularly memorable or significant—a surprising fact considering his devilish good looks, rocking bod, and popularity among the female fans.
Her role as the title character on the Disney Channel’s “Lizze McGuire” helped launch her into Disney Pop Princess stardom, but oddly did little to propel her acting career—strange considering her vocal skill is about as light as her acting ability. After the show ended, Hilary starred in The Lizzie McGuire Movie, A Cinderella Story, Agent Cody Banks, and Cheaper by the Dozen—each hugely successful—but her career as an adult has been underwhelming at best. The actress has starred in a handful of indie flicks with lukewarm reviews.
Remember when Ben McKenzie played Ryan Atwood on Fox’s The OC? The show was a hit (for a while) and Ben was constantly featured in magazines and interviews as the next big thing, but the hype didn’t seem to amount to much in the way of a career. Despite being praised for his performances in 3 out of the 5 feature films that he’s done —one of which was the thriller 88 Minutes starring Al Pacino—Ben McKenzie’s film career is almost non-existent. Instead, the hunky actor is a cast member on TNT’s “Southland” with Regina King.
Dennis Haysbert is probably most widely recognized as the guy from the Allstate commercials, but the 53-year old actor has had quite a successful career in TV, guest starring on several hit shows in the ’80s; starring on Fox’s 24 as the President—for which he received a Golden Globe nomination; and starring on the CBS action-drama The Unit. Haysbert has been in films like Heat, Waiting to Exhale, Love & Basketball, and Jarhead but rarely appears in a leading role, which is surprising given his strong, masculine, and dignified persona reminiscent of Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman.
Melissa Joan Hart
The former “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” star seems as though she would fit perfectly in today’s modern romantic comedy films, alongside actresses like Kristen Bell and Katherine Heigl, but the actress has been relegated to the likes of made-for-TV movies. Her role in the 1999 teeny-bopper hit Drive Me Crazy has been her biggest in a film to date.