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From The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to The Facts of Life to Growing Pains, many classic sitcoms featured talented actors who went on to become big-screen action heroes. Here’s a list of some major stars who successfully went from television comedies to high-octane feature films.

Martin Lawrence and Will Smith in 'Bad Boys'
Martin Lawrence and Will Smith in ‘Bad Boys’ | Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

Will Smith

Will Smith has proven himself as one of the most versatile entertainers in the world. Before becoming one of the most recognizable movie stars today, he leveraged his fame as a Grammy Award-winning rap artist to launch a successful career as a sitcom actor on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

After showing off his undeniable acting chops on the series, Smith seamlessly transitioned to the big screen. He has starred in a range of projects from comedy to sci-fi to drama, and some of his most iconic roles have been in the arena of action.

Fans will recognize him from action movies such as Independence Day, Enemy of the State, I Robot, I Am Legend, Hancock, Suicide Squad, Gemini Man, the Men in Black series, and the Bad Boys franchise.

Martin Lawrence

Martin Lawrence made a name for himself in stand-up comedy and as the headliner on the long-running series, Martin. It wasn’t long before he began tackling more serious roles.

Martin co-starred with Smith in the Bad Boys films, plus he took on action-comedies, including Blue Streak, Nothing to Lose, National Security, and the Big Mama’s House movies. Movie buffs will also remember him from the adventure flicks, Black Knight and Wild Hogs.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio landed a gig on the classic sitcom, Growing Pains for one season before taking off into the creative stratosphere. The actor has scored numerous meaty parts in thrillers, dramas, biopics, and more.

Some of DiCaprio’s most high-energy projects include The Quick and the Dead, The Man in the Iron Mask, and The Beach. He also brought his trademark intensity to Gangs of New York, The Departed, and Inception, among other projects.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Former child actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, garnered big laughs for six seasons as an alien disguised as a human in 3rd Rock From the Sun. Since then, he has earned a reputation as a committed actor with the capacity for great dramatic range.

Adrenaline junkies who love exciting films may enjoy some of Gordon-Levitt’s high-profile roles in movies like Inception, alongside fellow sitcom alum, DiCaprio, The Dark Knight Rises, and Looper. Movie lovers can look forward to seeing Gordon-Levitt in the upcoming sci-fi thriller, Project Power, and the historical war drama, K-Troop.

George Clooney


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Before becoming a Hollywood A-lister, George Clooney completed a stint on The Facts of Life, an ‘80s sitcom about an all-girls boarding school. After his gig ended, the actor hit the ground running on a trajectory to extraordinary success.

When it comes to action, Clooney has delivered his share of believable performance. His character battled vampires in From Dusk Till Dawn, and not long afterward, he donned a mask and cape as Gotham City’s most feared vigilante in Batman & Robin.

Theatergoers will also remember Clooney from several explosive blockbusters, including Out of Sight, Three Kings, and The Perfect Storm.