Matthew McConaughey  and Woody Harrelson star in the much-anticipated new HBO series True Detective , and while the gripping crime drama marks McConaughey's first official foray into television, most people may have forgotten that this is actually a return to TV for Harrelson; he spent years starring as lovable bartender Woody Boyd on Cheers back in the '80s! And though we all remember Jennifer Aniston  as Rachel Green and Will Smith  as the Fresh Prince, there are lots of other A-list, silver-screen stars who we often forget got their starts on TV — Leonardo DiCaprio , George Clooney , and Tom Hanks  among them. This list is sure to jog your memory, so keep reading.
While he's now most notable for being Gilbert Grape, Edward Scissorhands, and Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp  actually first gained fame for his role as undercover police officer Tom Hanson  in 21 Jump Street. The role turned him into a teen idol, and with good reason — just look at that photo! After he split from the show in 1990, Depp went on to become an international leading man, starring in more than 50 films (with even more on the way). In a nod to his TV roots, Depp briefly reprised his role with a cameo in the series' big-screen adaptation in 2012 alongside stars Channing Tatum  and Jonah Hill .
Would you believe that Halle Berry  played a model on TV? The Oscar-winning actress got her start on a Who's the Boss? spinoff called Living Dolls back in 1989. Berry, along with a young Leah Remini, played aspiring models living in NYC.
John Travolta  may be best known for his role as the disco-dancing Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, but before that, he was Vincent "Vinnie" Barbarino, the cocky leader of the James Buchanan High School Sweathogs on the ABC comedy Welcome Back, Kotter. Travolta went on to star in memorable films like Grease, Pulp Fiction, and Get Shorty — oh, and let's not forget Look Who's Talking!
The Jennifer Garner  we all know and love got her start as CIA agent Sydney Bristow on the ABC action drama Alias. She got to do fight scenes and wear a ton of killer wigs on the show, which ran from 2001 to 2006, and also starred a then-unknown Bradley Cooper . These days, Garner has gotten big-screen success from movies like 13 Going on 30, Pearl Harbor, and most recently, Dallas Buyers Club.
Leonardo DiCaprio  is one of our generation's most prolific actors, so it's a little crazy to think of him as a homeless teenager on the family comedy Growing Pains. But alas, DiCaprio did play Luke Brower on the show in 1991, before starring in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? and The Basketball Diaries, making us swoon in Romeo & Juliet and Titanic, and gaining A-list status with The Aviator, The Departed, and The Wolf of Wall Street. Check out this touching clip from the last episode of Growing Pains that he appeared in.
Before he was a natural born killer, basketball-playing hustler, and alcoholic Hunger Games victor, Woody Harrelson played Boston bartender Woody Boyd on Cheers. He played the goofy character from 1985 to 1993, and then went on to star in unforgettable films like White Men Can't Jump and Indecent Proposal, and even nabbed an Oscar nomination for his leading role in The People vs. Larry Flynt. Harrelson has been introduced to a brand-new generation of fans with this portrayal of Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games movie franchise, and now he's returning to TV alongside Matthew McConaughey  in HBO's crime drama True Detective.
Mila Kunis  made guest appearances on TV shows like Baywatch and 7th Heaven before finding small-screen fame as the self-absorbed Jackie Burkhart on That '70s Show. After the show went off the air in 2006, Kunis starred in films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Ted, and Friends With Benefits and nabbed multiple award nominations for her role in 2010's Black Swan. Even with her big-screen success, she hasn't cut her television ties completely — Kunis has been the voice of Meg Griffin on Family Guy since 1999. And now that Kunis is dating her onscreen boyfriend Ashton Kutcher , it's like watching That '70s Show all over again!
Bruce Willis  gained early fame as fast-talking private detective David Addison in the ABC dramedy Moonlighting. He starred opposite Cybill Shepherd in the show, which ran from 1985 to 1989. Willis obviously went on to have an illustrious film career with flicks like and Pulp Fiction, Armageddon, The Sixth Sense, and the Die Hard franchise.
Before starring in The Hunt For Red October, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Beetlejuice, Alec Baldwin  first gained recognition when he appeared on two seasons of the CBS soap opera Knots Landing in the mid '80s. As his film career began to stagnate, Baldwin returned to TV in 2006, starring as NBC executive Jack Donaghy for seven years on 30 Rock.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stole our hearts in 10 Things I Hate About You back in 1999, but before that, he played a teenage alien on the NBC comedy 3rd Rock From the Sun. He starred on the show from 1996 to 2001 and got to wear some pretty awesome hats along the way. How much do you love his long hair parted down the middle like that? Now, of course, he's still one of our biggest celebrity crushes and most recently showed off his sexy side as a New Jersey Casanova in Don Jon. Once a cutie, always a cutie.
Between his noteworthy movie roles and high-profile antics, Shia LaBeouf  has almost completely made us forget about his run as precocious practical joker Louis Stevens on Disney's Even Stevens. He's gone on to star in films like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the Transformers series but lately has been adopting darker roles in films like Lawless and Nymphomaniac.
With all of his big-screen success, it sometimes slips our minds that George Clooney  originally gained fame as Dr. Doug Ross on ER. He starred on the show for five years, but made sure to film a few hit movies — From Dusk Till Dawn, Out of Sight, and One Fine Day — in between. He even took his superhero turn in 1997's Batman & Robin while he was still in scrubs. These days, we all think of George Clooney as the ultimate Hollywood bachelor, A-list movie star, and all-around silver fox, which makes it even more amazing when we're reminded of his humble beginnings playing a doctor on TV.
Along with Seth Rogen  and Jason Segel , James Franco  became a Hollywood heavyweight after appearing on the teen comedy-drama Freaks and Geeks. The show was canceled in 2000 after only 12 episodes but became a cult classic and launched many of its stars to TV and movie fame. Franco has gone on to become a jack of all trades, starring in films like 127 Hours, Milk, Spring Breakers, and the original Spider-Man trilogy. Don't forget that he also had a random recurring role on General Hospital, all while attending Yale, teaching at NYU, and hosting the 2011 Oscars. Does he ever get tired?
A few years before she became The Flying Nun and way before she starred in Norma Rae, Steel Magnolias, Forrest Gump, or Lincoln, Sally Field  was the cute, captivating California beach bunny Frances "Gidget" Lawrence in the 1965 sitcom Gidget. Seriously, she was adorable — just watch the opening credits from the show in this clip.
Michelle Williams  has gotten so much recognition for her roles in films like Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine, and My Week With Marilyn that many people have forgotten about her big break as Jen Lindley on Dawson's Creek. Along with her fellow TV-turned-movie actress Katie Holmes , Williams starred on the WB teen drama from 1998 to 2003.
Before Jessica Alba  hit the big screen in Never Been Kissed, Fantastic Four, or Honey (remember Honey?), she played the ultimate mean girl — named Jessica — on the Nickelodeon hit The Secret World of Alex Mack in 1994. She later went on to continue her small-screen success in Flipper and Dark Angel.
Hey, girl: remember when Ryan Gosling  was on The Mickey Mouse Club? The actor, along with Britney Spears , Justin Timberlake , Keri Russell , and Christina Aguilera , appeared on the Disney sketch show for two years in the early '90s. He performed some hilarious skits, including this one, where his character, Frank McCullen, hosts his own news show. He even had a role on series Breaker High. His roles in The Notebook, Drive, and Gangster Squad have landed him on the A list, and we're praying that his self-induced sabbatical from acting is almost over.
If we had to list all of the amazing movies Jim Carrey  has been in since his days on TV, we would probably be here all day. From Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Dumb and Dumber to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and I Love You, Phillip Morris, Jim has achieved big-screen success with both comedic and dramatic roles. Before he made it in film, though, he brought his insane physical comedy skills to In Living Color in the '90s. He had a handful of memorable recurring characters, but Fire Marshall Bill (seen here in this YouTube clip) is arguably the most hilarious.
It's so hard not to think of Robin Williams  as Mrs. Doubtfire, isn't it? Before the comedian starred as the infamous nanny in drag or in any other films like Good Will Hunting, Aladdin, and Jumanji, he charmed audiences as a quirky alien named Mork on the sitcom Mork & Mindy in the early '80s. Robin made a triumphant return to the small screen in 2013 opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar  on the CBS series The Crazy Ones.
Two years before she landed the lead role in The Princess Diaries, Anne Hathaway  starred as moody teenager Meghan Green in the Fox family drama Get Real. The rest, as they say, is history — Anne went on to star in movies like The Devil Wears Prada and Rachel Getting Married and took home in Oscar in 2013 for her performance in Lés Miserables. Randomly, Anne's onscreen younger brother on Get Real was played by Jesse Eisenberg, who built his own successful film career.
Before winning the best actress Academy Award for Boys Don't Cry, Hilary Swank  got her big break on the ABC comedy Camp Wilder. The show aired as a part of the TGIF lineup, but was cancelled in 1993 after 19 episodes due to low ratings.