Around a decade ago, the crowd that showed up to the Emmys did not look too much like those in the audience at the Oscars. However, while the movies used to be where the crowning achievements in entertainment were, the sudden catapult in quality of cable TV dramas and comedies is drawing film actors, writers and directors.
On television over the past few years, Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton took on an American family feud in Hatfields and McCoys. Meanwhile, Steve Buscemi and Jeremy Irons, two fantastic actors with very different voices, lusted for power on Boardwalk Empire and The Borgias, respectively. Dustin Hoffman took a gamble with HBO’s Luck (which was produced by Michael Mann), while Charlie Sheen found a new home for several years on FX. Even Kevin Bacon can be connected to more stars now due to his role on the much-watched The Following (a network show, albeit one that may have been more appropriate for cable).
Meanwhile, female actors used to complain about the dearth of women protagonists in their forties or fifties in Hollywood screenplays. It’s no wonder that Laura Dern (Enlightened), Laura Linney (The Big C), Toni Collette (The United States of Tara), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City), Holly Hunter (Saving Grace) and Glenn Close (Damages) found statuettes waiting for them on the other side. They were hungry for meaty characters and found that dish on a small-screen show.
With episodic television giving actors the chance to bring greater depth to a character over the course of several seasons rather than a meagre 2 hours, it’s no wonder that those vying for an Emmy a few weeks ago included esteemed actors like Kevin Spacey, Don Cheadle and Robin Wright.
The niche market of cable television is opening up their most prestigious roles for those with a film pedigree. Thankfully, there is a collective of actors known for their big-screen work that could use a cable show as a way to stage a comeback and thrust their way back into the spotlight. Today, the small screen is not the smaller medium. It’s time for some of the more forgotten stars of the past few decades to use a series and resurge into the public eye.
Here are 10 actors who have never made the jump onto headlining their own cable series, but seriously ought to.