10 TV Actors Who Need a Big Movie Break

I watch more TV than quite possibly anyone else I know who still has a full time job. Fortunately for me, watching TV is part of my full time job, which is why I get to write articles like this one.

In all my watching, I’ve seen a number of actors stand out that I think could go above and beyond their roles on the small screen. I think all they need is a shot, and they could be the next DiCaprio out of Growing Pains, Hanks out of Bosom Buddies or Clooney out of The Facts of Life.

Read below to see who I want to pull out of TV-ville obscurity and into the spotlight, and feel free to shout out your own.

1. Charlie Hunnam (Undeclared, Sons of Anarchy)


As the years went by after Undeclared went the way of all brilliant shows on Fox, and I watched Jay Baruchel, Jason Segel and Seth Rogen all rocket to stardom, and I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to poor Lloyd.

Charlie Hunnam was a blonde haired British underwear model with great comedic timing and a charming smile whose career was launched by Judd Apatow. How did he not explode? Yes, Hunnam went on to headline a few smaller films, and has had guest spots in other larger ones, but he needs that one role that will make him a full-on star, and I don’t believe Sons of Anarchy was the right direction for him to go career-wise.

2. Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)


The word “bombshell” doesn’t quite accurately describe just how absurdly attractive Christina Hendricks is, with bright red hair rarely seen in Hollywood and natural breasts the size of small moons. We first fell in love with her on Firefly, but her turn as Joan Holloway on Mad Men is what really caught America’s eye.

She’s had no real notable film roles to date, but something tells me that’s about to change. The internet is petitioning to have her cast as Barbarella, and while I say bra-vo to that, I think she just needs any sort of big screen role to get her career rolling.

3. Kevin Durand (Lost)


There are a million people in the giant cast of Lost who you could argue deserve their own big breaks into film, but I’m going with someone who had a smaller part in the show’s canon, Kevin Durand, as I think the world of film could always use a few more anti-heroes.

He plays the crazy bad guy well, with other roles in Wolverine and Smokin Aces. But give him something like Guy Ritchie’s Lobo? The man could be an overnight sensation without a doubt.

4. Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle, Breaking Bad)


As the goofy dad in Malcolm in the Middle, you might not have thought twice about Bryan Cranston’s acting prowess, but I’ve just recently gotten into Breaking Bad, and Cranston has STUNNED me with his portrayal of a meth-cooking chemistry teacher. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more deserved Emmy (which he won).

Put this man in a major film. Something, anything. He can most definitely act with the best of them, and even he’s a step beyond the writing team of Breaking Bad. I see someone like Scorcese in his future.

5. David Cross (Mr. Show, Arrested Development)


He’s one of the funniest men on television, but it appears every network is dead set on screwing him over. It seems that just because David Cross was never at one point an SNL cast member, he’s incapable of having a major role in any theatrical comedies.

Tobias Funke remains as one of the greatest comedic roles of all time, and if given the right material, I feel Cross could replicate that success on the big screen, no doubt about it.

6. Robert Knepper (Prison Break, Heroes)


Charisma isn’t something you’d normally expect from a guy who looks like a backwater serial killer, but that’s exactly what Robert Knepper is packed full of, as seen from his turns as evil sociopaths in both Prison Break and Heroes.

Unfortunately, his film career is pretty limited, with his biggest role being in the horrendous Transporter 3, and the man deserves a REAL villainous role to call his own.

7. Enver Gjokaj (Dollhouse)


I gurantee that out of all the people on this list, this is one I’m SURE none of you have ever heard of. Even those of you who watch Dollhouse didn’t know (or can’t pronounce his real name). But of all the dolls taking on personalities in the show, no one is better than Victor, and through Dollhouse, he’s gone from unknown to a guy who deserves a big break.

The episode where he’s imprinted with Topher’s personality is one of the greatest acted scenes I’ve ever seen on TV, with Gjokaj emulating Fran Kranz’s neurotic scientist to absolute perfection. And he’s done the same with a dozen other personalities as well throughout the course of the show. I say give him a chance to bring one of these characters to the big screen.

8. Summer Glau (Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)


Good lord do we EVER need a female action star these days. Summer Glau fits the bill perfectly with brawn, beauty and a hell of a lot of geek cred.

But right now her film roles are non-excitement, limited to only Serenity, where she executed one of the greatest bar brawls ever filmed. She needs a role to really call her own, as we can’t keep calling her River Tam forever.

9. Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood)


I maintain that there isn’t a whole hell of a lot of good acting going on in True Blood, but one bright spot of the show for me is the complex brutality of Alexander Skarsgard’s Eric.

Son of an already famous actor (Stellan), Alex needs his own breakout vehicle, as vampire dramas and Lady Gaga videos really aren’t cutting it. He must have given the world’s worst audition for Thor, because that seemed like a role he was born to play. But whatever happened there, he should still be on the hunt for his big break. Captain America anyone?

10. Jason Jones (The Daily Show)


I believe that Jason Jones will be the next Daily Show correspondent to follow the Colbert, Carrell, Helms path to comedy glory. He’s been on the show for years, and it’s about time he moved on like those three did and found his own comedy niche to call home.

Whether that means his own show or a Hangover-type movie role, I’m not sure, but just because his wife is also a correspondent (Samantha Bee) I don’t think he needs to hang around The Daily Show forever.

  • Cheryl

    I vote for Ed Westwick (Chuck Bass on Gossip Girl) He’s the best actor on that show! He’s another one of those actors where people are surprised to find out he’s British (a la Hugh Laurie, who also kicks ass btw) and has only had small roles in 2 movies I have never seen (Donnie Darko 2 and Son of Rambow?)

  • Venro

    Victor has definitely been one of the most impressive actors on Dollhouse. They’ve given him a lot of different roles and he’s taken each one on almost flawlessly.

  • Trey

    Great list Paul! Totally agree on Charlie Hunnam and Robert Knepper has single handedly made Heroes watchable this season, and that guy brings it everytime.

    I think John Hamm from Mad Men deserves a break out role other than being in the shitty remake The Day The Earth Stood Still. He has the chops to do a career along the lines of George Clooney.

  • illeaturfamily

    Bryan Cranston is the man. Breaking Bad was one of the best TV dramas I have seen in a long loooooong time, and Cranston was perfect in it. My roommates and I used to joke about quitting school and pulling an ol’ Walt White and just cooking meth to get by. I’m yet to take that route, but Walter White showed us that there is more than just one “American Way” of doing things.

  • Madison

    Could not agree more about Skarsgard. Guy is terrific. I really have no idea how he wasn’t cast as Thor.

  • JZ

    Knepper was also the bad guy in Hitman, no?

  • ComfortableMadness

    I agree on Durand. He gets a bigger chance as Archangel Gabriel, who looks to be the villian as far I can tell, in the upcoming movie Legion.

  • Josh

    Knepper, Gjokaj, Durand, Cranston, and Glau are the ones I really have to agree with. Knepper is the greatest villain on TV right now. Durand is sanely insane in all of his roles (if you get what I mean). Glau kicks ass in everything and I would love to see her take on Wonder Woman or something like that. Cranston… he’s shocking everyone right now with Breaking Bad. He’s amazing. And Enver is just outstanding in Dollhouse and it is a shame that his time on it will be cut short.

    And yes, I agree that his Topher impersonation is one of the greatest acting jobs I have ever seen on tv. It was damned amazing.

  • Kaz

    I totally agree with Kevin Durand. I’m going to sit through Legion just because I think he’ll kick ass as Gabriel. I think his break may be coming, though, in playing Little John in the upcoming Crowe/Scott version of Robin Hood. In any case, it’ll be nice to see him play something other than the big dumb guy roles he’s been putting up with.

  • @Kaz

    Yup definitely! Legion is going to be worth watching because of him. The Gabriel role really fits him. He has that build. Cant wait.

    Great list as always!

  • Sam

    Dann Florek, from Law and Order Original and SVU. His part in the SVU cast is so small nowadays but he is an incredibly strong actor. He has been in a couple movies in small roles but he’s never really been given anything worth while. His bit pieces on other TV shows say that he’s got the chops to take a lot of different things on. He probably won’t get a chance because he’s almost 60, but he does deserve one.

  • Bert

    I haven’t even SEEN Breaking Bad and I still have huge respect for Brian Cranston just for being Hal.

    And David Cross is long overdue for his movie break. I mean, one of his old AD buddies must be able to work some magic. Besides Portia De Rossi and Jessica Walter, the rest of the cast has been breaking out in a huge way and it’s his turn dammit.

  • eric

    the world really needs to fall in love with summer glau!

  • Drester

    Bryan Cranston is really good, you should see the X-files episode with him. Think it was in season 5 or 6, haven’t seen Breaking Bad thought.

  • rudeezee

    charlie hunnam’s career was launched by the English version of Queer as Folk, NOT that hack Judd aptow.

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  • Josh

    Talk about good timing. Bryan Cranston just signed on to be in the John Carter of Mars remake from Pixar, supposedly their first ever live action film

  • JHallmark

    Sorry, very well aware of Enver Gjokaj (pronounced Joke-Eye). He’s amazing and in his varied roles on ‘Dollhouse’ has already proven that he can pretty much handle ANYTHING.

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  • Marissa

    Agree with Durand and Cranston. What about Steve Byers?
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0125847/ The guys should really have a Superhero movie- “Flash”anyone?

  • janet

    Totally agree about Alexander Skarsgard. He was excellent in Generation Kill and is excellent in True Blood. Don’t know if Straw Dogs will do it for him as it will probably have limited appeal due to violence. If not, then hopefully he’ll get a film that will showcase him appropriately. He’s got the chops.

  • I’ve always loved Charlie Hunnam, he’s the only reason to watch “Son’s of Anarchy”, though I think “Green Street Hooligans” is his best work.

    The first time I ever saw him was in that show “Young Americans”, show was pretty bad, but I remember him being good.

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  • SpyKi

    I agree with most of these, especially Cranston, Cross and Knepper. They’re fantastic.

  • Bob

    Alexander Skarsgard also had an unbelievable role as Iceman in the HBO miniseries Generation Kill. I completely agree with him needing big screen roles. And, of course, the infamous Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell.