"3rd Rock from the Sun" debuted on Jan. 9, 1996, introducing viewers to four wacky extraterrestrial beings posing as humans. In honor of the show's 25th anniversary, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at some of the movie stars who once acted on TV sitcoms… starting with this "3rd Rock" favorite. From 1996 to 2001, "Inception," "Looper" and "500 Days of Summer" hottie Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a total '90s teen on the sitcom "3rd Rock From the Sun." He played Tommy Solomon, a member of an alien convoy sent to Earth in human disguise to find out what life is like for a family on the strangest planet in the universe. But the series wasn't his first turn in the sitcom world: He'd previously appeared on "Roseanne" and "The Powers That Be." Keep reading for more…
Do you remember when Ryan Reynolds played Berg on the TV comedy "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" back in 1998? The hilarious show about three friends who lived and worked together at a pizza joint wasn't the first TV series Ryan starred in, but it was his first sitcom, which gave him a chance to prove his comedic chops and launch an amazing movie career. The series lasted four seasons before it was canceled in 2001.
RELATED: Reasons we love Ryan Reynolds
Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio joined the cast of "Growing Pains" in 1991 (when he was a baby-faced 17-year-old) for its final year. On the show, Leo played Luke Brower, a homeless teenager who befriends the Seavers and ultimately joins their happy family. Interestingly, this wasn't the first sitcom Leo starred on. From 1990 to 1991, he was a cast member on the comedy "Parenthood."
The comedy-drama "Get Real" only ran for the 1999-2000 TV season but three of its cast members still turned into bona fide stars. The FOX sitcom about two parents raising teenagers in the midst of a mid-life crisis launched the careers of Anne Hathaway, Eric Christian Olsen and Jesse Eisenberg, who all starred as the Green siblings. The year after "Get Real" was canceled, Anne made her big-screen debut in 2001's "The Princess Diaries."
Everyone knows that George Clooney was once a series regular on "ER" but only his truest fans know he was also a cast member on "Roseanne" from 1988 to 1991. George played Booker Brooks, Roseanne's sister Jackie's on-and-off again boyfriend. Fun fact: George was also on another '80s sitcom, "The Facts of Life," on which he played George Burnett, a hunky handyman hired by Mrs. Garrett, from 1985 to 1987.
Before "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Jurassic World" turned him into a huge movie star, Chris Pratt spent some time flexing his funny bone on the hit comedy "Parks and Recreation." Joining the series in 2009, Chris played Andy Dwyer, Ann Perkins' (played by Rashida Jones) slacker ex-boyfriend who goes on to date apathetic April Ludgate. Chris's character was originally scripted as a minor role for season 1 but his portrayal was so beloved by fans, the writers made him a permanent fixture.
While her breakout role was playing the titular character on the WB drama "Felicity," which ran from 1998 to 2002, Keri Russell was acting long before then. She appeared on several sitcoms including "Boy Meets World," "Daddy's Girls" and "Married… with Children." On "Boy Meets World," she played Jessica, Mr. Feeny's niece who periodically romances Eric Matthews.
"La La Land" and "The Notebook" star Ryan Gosling has a way of making us feel like we're falling hard, but back in 1997, he was the one holding on for dear life when he starred on the TV comedy "Breaker High." The series, about kids who attend high school on a cruise ship (so weird), only lasted one season before getting canceled in 1998. Ryan went on to star on the adventure drama "Young Hercules" before landing one of his first big movie roles in "Remember the Titans."
We forgot that "The Hunger Games" star Jennifer Lawrence was once cast on a sitcom. From 2007 to 2009, J.Law starred alongside Graham Patrick Martin, Skyler Gisondo, Nancy Travis and Bill Engvall on "The Bill Engvall Show" — a comedy about the life of a therapist and his family. Jennifer played Lauren, the eldest daughter in the Pearson clan. The show ran for three seasons before getting the axe in 2009 — a year before Jennifer starred in the critically acclaimed drama "Winter's Bone."
What a baby! Prior to landing starring role alongside his twin brother on Disney's "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" in 2005 and becoming a total heartthrob on The CW's "Riverdale" in 2017, Cole Sprouse had a recurring role on the hit sitcom "Friends." He portrayed Ben Geller, Ross's son, appearing on seven episodes from 2000 to 2002.
While Gabrielle Union is known for her roles in films including "Bring It On" and "10 Things I Hate About You," she's also no stranger to the small screen. In 1997, she played Shawn on four episodes of "Sister, Sister" (and from 1996 to 1999, she portrayed Keesha Hamilton on the family drama "7th Heaven").
Sure, we love him for his starring roles on "How I Met Your Mother" and "A Series of Unfortunate Events," but remember when Neil Patrick Harris played the titular super-intelligent teenage doctor on ABC's "Doogie Howser, M.D."? The series, which ran from 1989 to 1993, focused on Doogie's efforts to balance his hectic professional life with his personal life as a teenager. For his portrayal of the young physician, Neil earned a Golden Globe nomination for best performance by an actor in a comedy or musical TV series in 1992.
Today, two-time Oscar nominee Will Smith is one of Hollywood's heavyweights, but back in 1990, he was a music and TV comedy star with the lead role on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." The show ran for six seasons before ending in 1996, and by then, Will was already making waves as a major movie star with films like "Six Degrees of Separation" and "Bad Boys."
After making her small screen debut on an episode of "Boy Meets World," from 1993 to 1995, Marla Sokoloff portrayed Stephanie's best friend, Gia Mahan, on "Full House." These weren't the only famous sitcoms this '90s actress appeared on — she also guest starred on shows including "Step by Step," "Home Improvement" and "Friends."
In 1982, "Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker (left) was the polar opposite of character Carrie Bradshaw when she was cast as Patti Greene alongside Amy Linker (as Lauren Hutchinson) on "Square Pegs." The comedy series about two super-nerdy high school girls determined to fit in and be popular with their classmates was canceled after just one season.
Although Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx's role on the series "Roc" from 1992 to 1993 alongside Charles S. Dutton (right) wasn't his first foray into comedy, it was his first sitcom outside of the sketch-comedy series "In Living Color." On the show, Jamie played George, Roc's mentally unstable neighbor.
Believe it or not, there was a time when Bradley Cooper wasn't one of the biggest names in Tinseltown! While he's starred in movies including "Wedding Crashers," "The Place Beyond the Pines," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "A Star is Born" (which he also wrote and directed), Bradley earned his first on-screen acting credit on a seriously popular show: "Sex and the City." On the 1999 episode "They Shoot Single People, Don't They?," Bradley played Jake, a guy Carrie initially hits it off with but ultimately decides not to go home with. He went on to find more fame on the action-drama series "Alias" (seen here) after that.
"Freaks and Geeks" only lasted one season in 1999 but it was the launching pad for its stars who are all still in the spotlight today: James Franco, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, Martin Starr, Samm Levine and John Francis Daley (not pictured: Busy Philipps). The comedy series followed smart teen Lindsay, who starts hanging with a group of stoners. Two years after the show ended, James went on to star in "Spider-Man," launching his career as one of Hollywood's most versatile actors. Linda, Jason and Seth all followed suit, landing roles in their own blockbuster films. Martin is currently starring on HBO's "Silicon Valley," and John starred on "Bones" for years while carving out a successful screenwriting career. He's the co-writer behind successful films including "Horrible Bosses," "Vacation" and "Spider-Man: Homecoming."
Talk about a blast from the past! Long before Oscar winner Tom Hanks became one of the most iconic stars of our time, he was a fresh face on our TV screens on the hilarious sitcom "Bosom Buddies," which ran from 1980 to 1982. Tom starred as Kip "Buffy" Wilson, a young guy who, along with his friend Henry (aka Hildegard), disguises himself as a woman in order to live in a more affordable apartment in a female-only building. After the series was canceled, Tom spent a year on another sitcom ("Family Ties") before landing the role of Allen Bauer in the big-screen romantic comedy "Splash."
By the time Reese Witherspoon made her two-episode appearance on NBC's "Friends" in 2000, she'd already made a name for herself — just one year prior, she portrayed Annette Hargrove in the teen film "Cruel Intentions." On "Friends," Reese played Jill Green, Rachel's spoiled little sister. In addition to portraying the iconic Elle Woods in the "Legally Blonde" films, Reese has since gone on to star on and produce acclaimed series like "Big Little Lies," "Little Fires Everywhere" and "The Morning Show."
In 1991, Jada Pinkett Smith (then just Jada Pinkett) joined the cast of "A Different World" as Lena James, a student at Hillman College where Whitney Gilbert (Jasmine Guy), Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison) and more of the show's stars attended school. The sitcom was a spinoff of "The Cosby Show" and originally featured Lisa Bonet as Denise Huxtable during her college years.
Today, we know Woody Harrelson as the eccentric star of some of our favorite films and TV dramas like "The Hunger Games" and "True Detective." But back in 1985, Woody landed his first recurring role, playing Woody Boyd on the primetime sitcom "Cheers" opposite Ted Danson. Cheers was a feel-good comedy about the lives of the bartenders, staff and patrons at a popular Boston watering hole. Woody remained on the show until its final episode in 1993 but by then, he'd already starred in several hit films like "White Men Can't Jump" and "Indecent Proposal."
Before becoming one of Hollywood's favorite romantic comedy heartthrobs (ahem, "27 Dresses," anyone?), James Marsden earned one of his first on-screen roles when he played Eddie on "The Nanny" in 1993. From 2001 to 2002, he went back to TV as Glenn Foy on 13 episodes on "Ally McBeal."
We're positive that everyone who loves Steve Carell already knows he starred on the comedy "The Office" from 2005 to 2013. What fans might not know, however, is that Steve's first foray into sitcom territory was back in 1997 as Yorgo Galfanikos, an obnoxious hotel chef, on "Over the Top" (which was canceled after one season). Prior to appearing on the show, Steve had a recurring role on the sketch comedy series "The Dana Carvey Show."
Most of us who are over 30 remember Jim Carrey on the 1990 sketch comedy series "In Living Color," but in 1984, the Canadian comedian with a penchant for making funny faces had a starring role on the sitcom "The Duck Factory." The series was about a young animator named Skip who has low self-esteem and is responsible for drawing a popular cartoon called "The Dippy Duck Show." It only lasted one season before getting canceled.
Before he appeared in several hilarious flicks including "This Is the End" and "Hot Tub Time Machine 2," from 2005 to 2013, Craig Robinson played Dunder Mifflin warehouse foreman Darryl Philbin on NBC's "The Office." The beloved mockumentary-style sitcom, which follows the professional and personal lives of the employees at the paper company's Scranton, Pennsylvania, branch, aired for nine seasons.
We're certain no one's forgotten that Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher both starred on the comedy series "That '70s Show," but we couldn't leave them off our list. The duo played Jackie and Kelso, high school sweethearts who fall in and out of love throughout the show's eight-year run. After wrapping the series in 2006, the two remained friends and six years later, they began dating in real life. They married in 2015 and now share two kids. Fun fact: While "That '70s Show" was Ashton's first foray on the small screen, Mila had previously starred on the sitcom "Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher" from 1996 to 1997.
Before she landed her role in 1999's "American Beauty," Mena Suvari briefly appeared on the hit sitcom "Boy Meets World." She played two different characters on two separate episodes — in the 1996 ep "The Grass Is Always Greener," she was Hillary, a girl Cory meets at a party.
We're confident that just about no one will be surprised that "Ant-Man" star Paul Rudd was once the star of a sitcom (doesn't he just have that kind of face?). In 1994, he landed the role of Brian Grant on "Wild Oats," a comedy about two friends living in Chicago. Unfortunately, the series was canceled mid-season after just six episodes (ouch). While it probably stung at the time, Paul was clearly destined for bigger and better roles.
Academy Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock was once a sitcom star too! She landed the role of Tess McGill on 1990's "Working Girl" (after making a string of appearances on TV shows and in low-budget movies). Based on the film of the same name, the show was a continuation of Tess's storyline and offered a comedic look at life in an office setting. After just one season, the series was canceled, but two years later, Sandy starred in the big-screen romantic comedy "Love Potion No. 9," which kick-started her career as a blockbuster film actress.
While Hayden Panettiere fans are aware of her starring roles on "Heroes" and "Nashville," before reaching widespread fame, she landed a role on "Malcolm in the Middle." From 2003 to 2005, she played Jessica, Malcolm and Reese's conniving classmate and neighbor.
At the height of Queen Latifah's hip-hop reign — and after she'd landed roles in several popular big-screen comedies — she transitioned to the small screen as Khadijah James on the sitcom "Living Single" in 1993. Before there was "Sex and the City" or even "Friends," there was "Living Single," which took a look at the lives of four friends living together in New York. Featuring a dynamic cast of African American women, the series was hailed as groundbreaking for its depiction of educated, financially stable Black women navigating their careers and love lives. The series ended in 1998 after five glorious seasons.
Once upon a time, troubled film star Shia LaBeouf was a young, earnest TV actor starring on the family comedy "Even Stevens." On the sitcom about a family's misadventures while living in Sacramento, Shia played Louis Stevens alongside Christy Carlson Romano, who played his sister, Ren. Although the show was canceled in 2003, Shia had already proven himself to be a talented performer, which led to his first starring film role in "Holes" that same year.
In 1991, Vivica A. Fox appeared on an episode of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." In the season 1 ep titled "It Had to Be You," she portrayed Janet, Jazz's overbearing sister who's set up with Will and then Carlton. Vivica went on to land her breakout role in 1996's "Independence Day."
Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams only managed to land bit roles in TV and film before he was cast as quirky alien Mork on the hit sitcom "Mork & Mindy" in 1978. The show was about a woman, Mindy, who befriends kooky Mork and allows him to live with her while he studies humankind. The series ended in 1982 but by then, Robin had already established himself as a top comedic actor with roles in films like "Popeye" and "The World According to Garp."
Prior to starring in notable films like 2008's "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," Kat Dennings got her start on a sitcom! In 2000, she made her first-ever television appearance on HBO's "Sex and the City" as Jenny Brier, an entitled 13-year-old who hires Samantha to coordinate her bat mitzvah.
That's right, the man who made "Iron Man" a legend was once a TV actor. Years before Robert Downey Jr. would appear on the legal comedy-drama "Ally McBeal" alongside Calista Flockhart, he was already a major movie star. However, his struggles with addiction and incarceration landed him in hot water with film directors who didn't want to give the troubled star a second chance. Part of Robert's acting rebirth came from the two years he spent on the series. Unfortunately, in 2002, Robert was once again arrested on drug charges and left the show, though he later cleaned up his act.
We couldn't leave these ladies off our list! Although all three of the lead actresses on "Friends" — Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow — wound up making films, Jen is the one who became a major movie star. The hit series, which ran from 1994 to 2004, followed the lives of six friends in Manhattan struggling to navigate life, love and their careers. By the time the sitcom wound down, Jen had already starred in several hit films including "Bruce Almighty" and "Along Came Polly."