Hollywood’s biggest actors go back to television

The traditional model of actors going from television to film has been flipped on it’s head.


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Mary Strother, Writer

As a storytelling medium, there is no doubt about the effectiveness of television. The ability to share a story in weekly segments allows for greater character development and plot growth, therefore enhancing the viewer’s experience and connection to the world set in front of them. But there has always existed an intangible divide between the movies and television, a mold that has since been broken.


Traditionally, if an actor wanted to make it in Hollywood, they would seek television roles that would allow them to become household names. By doing this they opened themselves up to wider recognition subsequently filmmakers would feel inclined to offer them roles in motion pictures. In the past few years, however, this equation has subtly shifted. More and more, film actors are making the leap to television, moving back and forth between mediums more easily than their predecessors. Stars like Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Lange, Kevin Spacey and Glenn Close have headlined their own breakthrough television shows in recent years, which have drawn wide audiences and garnered numerous awards.

With star power comes buzzworthy entertainment virtually guaranteed to attract an audience. In an article by the LA Times in September of 2013, the author notes that stars follow two things — the employment and the stories. Unless looking for a franchise role, Hollywood does not seem to offer actors much. The quality of roles for big budget films have declined in recent years, though independent film remains a popular choice. The story as well might turn out to be better in television — quality and variety reign supreme amongst television options.


Simply put, television is where the audiences are, and thus, where the movie stars go. Film will never die, but television is more accessible and produces high caliber stories with talented directors, producers and stars involved.

The Guardian discussed the shift in creative control, and the film directors who elect to bring their talents to television sets, no longer the bottom of the totem pole behind producers and writers. The ability to craft bold, original content that can be expanded upon week by week appeals to these creative minds. Hollywood today is slammed for unoriginality which explains why audiences flock to television. When viewers get bored of the same cliches in their cinemas, they can find fresh ideas right within their homes: all they have to do is pick up the remote.

In the coming years, shows like HBO’s “True Detective” and Netflix’s “House of Cards” will continue to bring in quality entertainment and the actors talented enough to help bring the stories to life. For now we should simply enjoy this golden age of television, and let the content sell itself.

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