From Soapland To Hollywood: 18 Soap Stars Who Found Success In The US

After former EastEnders star Alex Ferns popped up in the new Batman film, who else has made a name for themselves Stateside?

Former EastEnder Alex Ferns has become the latest former soap star to impress fans with his US success, following his role in the new Batman film.

The actor plays Gotham Police Commissioner Pete Savage in the caped crusader’s latest big-screen outing – but he’s far from the first small screen star to go from soapland to Hollywood.

Over the years, the likes of EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Coronation Street have developed a proven track record when it comes to helping launch international careers.

And it’s not just British soaps either, as Neighbours and Home & Away have seen more than a few of their young stars jet off to LA and impress movie business bigwigs.

Here are just 17 former soap stars who made a name for themselves across the pond...

Ben Hardy

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In one pretty impressive career move, former EastEnders star Ben (aka Peter Beale) swapped Walford for Wolverine by nabbing a role in X-Men: Apocalypse, playing Angel.

He also won acclaim when he was cast as Roger Taylor in the hit Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, and has appeared in other films including Only The Brave and 6 Underground.

Nathalie Emmanuel

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Nathalie went from playing Hollyoaks’ Sasha Valentine to starring in one of the world’s biggest shows when she was cast as Missandei in Game Of Thrones in 2013 – a role she played until the series’ conclusion in 2019.

She later voiced Deet in Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, while her big screen credits include her role as Ramsey in the seventh, eighth and ninth Fast And Furious films, as well as the Maze Runner series.

Roxanne McKee

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Roxanne spent three years in Hollyoaks as Louise Summers, before taking a number of small parts in the UK and eventually relocating.

In the US, she reached a new fanbase when she played Doreah in Game Of Thrones from 2011 to 2012, before going on to appear in US TV series Dominion, as well as starring in films including Vendetta and The Legend of Hercules.

Himesh Patel

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Himesh left his role as the loveable Tamwar Masood in 2016 after nine years on the Square and soon made the leap to the big screen.

He made his film debut as Jack Malik in Yesterday, before also appearing in The Aeronauts and the Christopher Nolan film Tenet.

More recently, you might have seen him in the Netflix disaster movie Don’t Look Up or the HBO Max limited series Station Eleven.

Sam Strike

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EastEnders’ original Johnny Carter actor Sam left Albert Square, and nabbed himself a part in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel Leatherface.

He has also appeared on US TV series Mindhunter, Nightflyers and FBI: Most Wanted.

Ricky Whittle

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Ricky set off for LA not long after leaving his role as Calvin Valentine in Hollyoaks in 2011.

After nabbing a number of small roles, he finally got his big US break in 2014, when he began playing Lincoln in the CW Network drama The 100.

Since then, Ricky has appeared in the US adaptation of BBC drama Mistresses, as well as taking the lead role of Shadow Moon in American Gods. In 2018, he also appeared in Netflix film Nappily Ever After.

Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton

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Rachel, who played Mitzeee Minniver on Hollyoaks, won an Oscar in 2018 for her short film The Silent Child, which told the story of a four-year-old deaf girl, learning to communicate.

She wrote, produced and starred in the film, while her real-life boyfriend Chris, who previously appeared as a cage fighter on Hollyoaks, directed it.

Claire Cooper

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Claire waved goodbye to Hollyoaks’ Jacqui McQueen in 2013, going on to star in the NBC drama A.D. The Bible Continues.

She has since appeared in TV series Strike Back, Knightfall and 12 Monkeys, as well as In The Club back here in the UK.

Michelle Ryan


Back in 2007, Michelle became one of EastEnders’ first big international successes when the former Zoe Slater star was cast in a US TV remake of The Bionic Woman.

Anna Friel

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While you’re more likely to recognise Anna from movies, ITV’s Marcella, or perhaps the West End stage, she actually started out in Brookside back in 1993.

She headed out to the US in the late 90s, and appeared in a plethora of films and TV shows, but her breakthrough role came in 2007 when she was cast in the lead role of comedy drama Pushing Daises. The show earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.

Some of Anna’s film credits include Limitless, The Look of Love and I.T, while her role in British crime noir Marcella also won her an International Emmy Award in 2017.

Chris Hemsworth

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Long before Chris was making film fans swoon as Hollywood superhero Thor, he was tearing up the waves of Summer Bay as Home & Away’s Kim Hyde.

As well as his Marvel Cinematic Universe role, Chris’ film credits include Snow White and the Huntsman, Ghostbusters and Men in Black: International.

Liam Hemsworth

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Chris’ little brother Liam had guest roles in Aussie’s two biggest soaps Neighbours and Home And Away before finding a new level of fame in The Hunger Games film series alongside Jennifer Lawrence in 2012.

His other film credits include Independence Day: Resurgence, The Expendables 2 and Netflix’s Isn’t It Romantic?.

Rob Kazinsky

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Rob’s bad boy character Sean Slater caused plenty of trouble in Walford prior to his exit in 2009, and he went on to stir things up as a vampire in US fantasy horror series True Blood in 2013.

Since then, Rob’s appeared in films including Pacific Rim, Hot Pursuit and Captain Marvel and starred in Fox series Second Chance.

Zaraah Abrahams

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Zaraah left her role as Coronation Street’s Joanne Jackson back in 2007, and in 2015 she starred in the US medical drama The Knick, where she played Opal Edwards in the second series.

Samara Weaving

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After waving goodbye to Summer Bay in 2013 when she left her role as Home & Away’s Indi Walker, Samara packed off to the US where she was cast in Ash vs Evil Dead in 2015.

She has since appeared in Oscar-winning film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the horror flick Ready Or Not and the comedy Bill & Ted Face the Music in 2020.

Her other US TV credits include SMILF, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Netflix mini-series Hollywood.

Barry Sloane

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Barry, who played Hollyoaks serial killer Niall Rafferty until 2008, and went on to have a regular role in hit US drama Revenge from 2012 to 2014.

He’s also appeared in The Whispers, Longmire, Saints & Strangers, Six, L.A.’s Finest and Bluff City Law.

Margot Robbie

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Margot is arguably soapland’s biggest Hollywood export, having gone from Neighbours school girl Donna Friedman to Leonardo DiCaprio’s on-screen wife Naomi Lapaglia in The Wolf Of Wall Street.

Since her international breakthrough role, Margot has starred in films including Focus, The Big Short, The Legend of Tarzan, Suicide Squad, Goodbye Christopher Robin, Mary Queen of Scots and Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood.

Margot was also nominated for Oscars for her roles in I, Tonya and Bombshell.


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