Stars Who Got Their Start on Soap Operas
Mark Consuelos and Kelly Ripa
Plucked from the stage of a school production of The Ugly Ducking, Kelly Ripa was advised to pursue professional acting-and it paid off. After scoring a role on the USA Network’s Dance Party USA, she got her big break on All My Children as the troubled Hayley Vaughan. “What I like about Hayley is that she’s not a quitter. She may sometimes feel like giving up, but I have this sense that she never will,” Ripa said back then. In addition to three Daytime Emmy nominations, Ripa found love on the set when her character was coupled with the sexy Mark Consuelos’ Mateo Santos. In real life, the two dated for a year before secretly eloping in Las Vegas. After 12 years on AMC, Kelly moved on to co-host Live with Regis amp Kelly and raise a family that includes kids Michael, Lola, and Joaquin.
-Bronwyn Barnes, with reporting by Maggie Chong
-Bronwyn Barnes, with reporting by Maggie Chong
These days he's strutting the red carpet at Cannes with partner Angelina Jolie, but back in the 80's Brad Pitt had a small recurring role as Chris on Another World. “It was real sweaty-palms time for me,” Pitt has said of his first on-screen kiss at his other acting gig, the nighttime drama Dallas. Pitt supplemented bit parts with odd jobs like dressing up as a chicken for El Pollo Loco until he made a huge leap forward when he landed a part in the chick flick, Thelma amp Louise alongside Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon. Since his breakthrough, he has starred in blockbusters like Interview with the Vampire, Fight Club, and Mr. amp Mrs. Smith.
In 1982, 19 year-old Demi Moore landed her first big acting role on General Hospital, beating out 1,000 other actresses for the job. Her character, Jackie Templeton, had a red-hot romance with the GH hunk Luke Spencer, played by Anthony Geary. Still, Moore's future husband, Ashton Kutcher, couldn't have been too jealous of their onscreen chemistry-he was only 4 years old at the time. Moore left GH in 1983 and went on to star in Blame It on Rio and St. Elmo’s Fire, eventually landing her big break in Ghost. Her key to such a successful career? Self-discipline. “It's the key to everything,” she has said. “I believe it down to my core. If there is structure, you can do anything.”
Born Margaret Mary Emily Hyra, Meg Ryan has been known by many names-and many looks-most notably Sally Albright (in When Harry Met Sally), Annie Reed (in Sleepless in Seattle), and Kathleen Kelly (in You’ve Got Mail). But her first notable character was Betsy Stewart Andropolous, the girl searching for love in all the wrong places on As the World Turns. Ryan’s soap role was the launching pad for her career-she went on to star in many box office hits and collect three Golden Globe nominations along the way. This month, the blonde beauty joins leading ladies Annette Bening and Eva Mendes in the flick The Women.
Former All My Children star Josh Duhamel might engaged to girlfriend Fergie, but plenty of fans still indulge their guilty pleasures by watching him on reruns of the soap. He made girls weak in the knees when he joined the daytime drama in 1999 as Leo du Pres, winning a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 2002. “I was totally blown away that he was able to learn the lines. He didn't even like giving speeches in class," Duhamel's mom has said. Duhamel later moved on to nighttime TV in NBC’s Las Vegas and has been a hit at the box office in films like Win a Date With Tad Hamilton and Transformers.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Gellar booked her first commercial at the tender age of four. From there it was only up for the actress, who snagged a role on All My Children as Susan Lucci’s meddlesome daughter in 1993. At 18, Gellar won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actress, but at times her budding career was difficult. “I was on All My Children while trying to graduate from high school. Do you go to sleep-overs or to auditions?” the starlet has said of life as a child actor. “Even when she was a teenager, she seemed in her 30s," fellow former AMC star Kelly Ripa has said. "I always thought, 'When I grow up, I want to be like Sarah,' and she was younger than me!” Gellar’s sophistication later landed her roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Scooby-Doo.
“I started on General Hospital when I was 18, but I was still flipping burgers at my dad's restaurant. He wouldn't let me quit!" John Stamos has said of his start in the soap biz. "People would come in and say, ‘Aren't you on General Hospital?’ and I'd say, ‘No.’” Coming onto the scene as Blackie Parrish on GH in 1981, Stamos became so popular that he started receiving 10,000 fan letters a week. He stayed for two years before moving on to become the Uncle Jesse on the family sitcom, Full House. When that show ended, he toured with the Beach Boys, starred on Broadway and, most recently, landed in the ER as the gorgeous Dr. Gates.
Julianne Moore got the chance to play the classic good twin, evil twin soap role when she starred as both Frannie and Sabrina Hughes on As the World Turns. Moore-formerly Julie Smith-moved to New York in 1983 and two years later landed her job playing British and American half sisters with two distinct personalities. The roles won Moore a daytime Emmy for Outstanding Ingenue in a Drama Series in 1988. “If you're going to do a soap, you always want to play twins. But then you learn that there’s nothing more boring than acting with yourself, because you know what's going to happen,” Moore has said. The Emmy Award-winning actress went on to become an Academy Award nominee for four films, including The Hours and Far From Heaven.
Known as “Kiki” to close friends and relatives, Puerto Rican native Ricky Martin has made girls go crazy with songs like “Livin' La Vida Loca” and “Shake Your Bon Bon.” But Martin was first known as hospital orderly Miguel Morez on General Hospital. “What I love about doing a soap opera character is that you can never be sure what will happen to him next,” The Menudo alum said back then. After two years on the show, Martin left to star in Les Miserables on Broadway. The multi-talented singer then went on to release albums that have catapulted him to international fame.
At the age of 17, Ryan Phillippe embarked on a venture that no daytime actor had ever taken on before. Starring as Billy Douglas on One Life to Live, Phillippe played the first gay teenager on a daytime soap. Reflecting on the experience, Phillippe has said “When I auditioned, I had no idea Billy was gay. They told me, and I said ‘Oh! Okay!’ but a shock went through my system. But I realized that maybe this role is where I’m supposed to be.” Phillippe has also commented on the acting skills he gained during Billy’s coming-out scene, which was “the first time ever that I didn’t have to force tears. My voice went all quivery and they flowed out of me.” From daytime drama, the actor went on to star in Cruel Intentions, Crash, and the Oscar nominated Flags of Our Fathers.