10 Soap Opera Stars Who Became Superhero Actors

Soap operas can be a springboard to bigger things, and here are 10 actors who have played significant characters in superhero movies. 

They may have been the guy cheating on his wife or who was embezzling from their company by day but, at night, they were superheroes, saving the world from the forces of darkness. Ok, that may be a little dramatic, but what more could you expect from this article. After all, this is an article about 10 daytime soap opera stars who transitioned from scoundrel to become legendary characters on the big screen. 

The amazing thing is that there are a lot more of them than you may have thought. Several soap opera stars became superheroes in their other acting life, and here are 10 of the most recognizable.

Laurence Fishburne – One Life to Live

Fishburne is one of the more recognizable actors in all of Hollywood. He has been in important social commentary films such as Boyz in the Hood but has also starred in blockbuster hits like The Matrix. Fishburne’s career has spanned more than four decades as he even made a cameo appearance in the television comedy MASH. Fishburne went on to be the voice of the Silver Surfer in Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer and later played Perry White in Batman v Superman

However, where Fishburne started to build his career was when he was the young actor Josh Hall in One Life to Live. This character enabled him to become part of television history when he was involved in the first wedding in soap opera history that featured black characters. 

Alexandra Shipp – Days of Our Lives

Shipp starred as the young Ororo Munro in the X-Men franchise, but she spent a week featured on Days of Our Lives. Shipp was Marth Beth, who was the friend of Paige. She tried to warn her friend against dating J.J. Too bad she did not have superpowers back them to protect her friend. 

Jesse L. Martin – One Life to Live

Martin is best known as Detective Green on Law & Order, but he was also Captain Joe West in the The Flash. Martin has always been on the right side of the law it seems, but the actor got his feet wet with appearances in two different soap operas. He played Quincy on One Life to Live and also appeared on Guiding Light

Ryan Reynolds – Fifteen

Reynolds has become a staple of the superhero genre, perhaps best know for playing Deadpool, but he appeared on a Canadian based teen soap opera called Fifteen which aired on Nickelodeon back in the 1990s. Reynolds played Billy on the show, a typical misfit teen trying to fit in.

Mark Hamill – General Hospital

When Hamill first appeared as Kent Murray on General Hospital, no one could have possibly known how recognizable he would become. Hamill is the face of one of the biggest blockbuster series Hollywood has ever produced, playing the part of Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise. Interestingly enough, Hamill’s parents died in General Hospital and in Star Wars. Type casting?

Angela Bassett – Search for Tomorrow

Bassett is best known for her roles in Malcolm X and What’s Love Got to Do with It, but she also appeared in Green Lantern as Amanda Waller. She really jumped into the superhero genre when she played Queen Ramonda in Black Panther. However, Bassett has also played in daytime soap operas as well, appearing in Search for Tomorrow back in the 1980s. Bassett played Salina McCulla before moving the big screen. 

Marisa Tomei – As the World Turns

Tomei is an Academy Award winning actress who starred in My Cousin Vinny. She has appeared in dozens of television shows and movies, including as Martha Thompson on As the World Turns. She had a huge storyline in the soap, claiming her best friend’s father had assaulted her. It was later discovered that she had lied. She would later star as May Parker across several MCU films.

Brandon Routh – One Life to Live

Routh became well-known in One Life to Live, playing the character of Seth Anderson. His character tried to get Jessica Buchanan to fall in love with him, so he could help Natalie to get into the Buchanan family. Good thing he turned his life around, actually falling for Jessica, thwarting Natalie’s plans. Maybe that helped him to turn his life to the good, eventually starring as Superman. 

Frank Grillo – Guiding Light

Grillo was tough guy Hart Jessup in Guiding Light, which helped him later appear in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Grillo played the commander of the counter-terrorism unit at S.H.I.E.L.D. Grillo has become quite a popular actor in the last six years, appearing in two of The Purge movies and he came back to play Rumlow in Captain America: Civil War

Michael B. Jordan – All My Children

Jordan got his name out in All of My Children, playing Reggie Montgomery, the adopted son of Jackson Montgomery. Jordan would later star as the son of Apollo Creed in Creed but joined the superhero genre as Johnny Storm in Fantastic 4 and as Eric Killmonger in Black Panther. Jordan was so good in the latter role that many critics felt that he stole the show. 

These are 10 of the biggest actors in Hollywood. All helped to build their reputation through soap operas and now they have turned the drama of television into historic movie careers. More interesting facts are illustrated bellow with this interesting infographic.

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About the author

David Molofsky

David is the Founder & Editor-in-Cape of AP2HYC.

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