Skip to main contentSkip to footer

See which celebrities made it big after leaving their soaps

From Margot Robbie to Jenna Coleman...

soap stars collage
Chloe Ash
Social Media Content Producer
February 12, 2019
Share this:
ben hardy© Photo: Getty Images

Ben Hardy

The English actor started his career playing Peter Beale in Eastenders for two years, with his first appearance airing in 2013. The star then made his film debut in the superhero film X-Men: Apocalypse co-starring as an Archangel. More recently, the 28-year-old actor flourished in the role of Roger Taylor, the Queen drummer in the 2018 hit Bohemian Rhapsody. Following his film he earned a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

emmett scanlan© Photo: Getty Images

Emmett J Scanlan

The Irish actor played Brendan in Hollyoaks from 2010-2013, one of the most popular characters on the British Channel 4 soap opera. Brendan appeared on our screens as a villain but during his time on the show he became a complex character with a troubled past. Speaking to Digital Spy, upon his departure from the role in 2013, Scanlan explained that his role had been the "greatest honour”. Emmett went on to star in Breakdown and played the head riot guard in Guardians of the Galaxy.

jennna coleman© Photo: Getty Images

Jenna Coleman

Jenna recently starred in the BBC series The Cry and flourished in ITV drama Victoria as Queen Victoria. However, the English actress started her career playing Jasmine Thomas in Emmerdale where she was nominated for the Most Popular Newcomer at the National Television Awards in 2006. The huge media presence that Jenna was subject to after her role as a murderous young woman in Emmerdale led her to land a role in Waterloo Road, which further bolstered her experience, in turn leading to her role as The Doctor's companion in Doctor Who starring alongside Matt Smith.

joanna lumley© Photo: Getty Images

Joanna Lumley

Joanna Lumley has won two BAFTA TV awards for her role in Absolutely Fabulous and a Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards, she has also starred in The New Avengers and A Rather English Marriage. Though, Joanna Lumley kickstarted her career appearing on the cobbles in 1973 as Elaine Perkins, Ken Barlow's girlfriend in Coronation Street.

keira knightley© Photo: Getty Images

Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley has an incredible resume of appearing in hugely successful films, from Pirates of the Caribbean and Pride and Prejudice to The Imitation Game. Though as a child actress the star's main role was an appearance in The Bill from 1995 as a street-smart thief who was always getting into trouble. She has come a long way since those days, having been nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for Pride and Prejudice and a Best Supporting Oscar for The Imitation Game.

liam hemsworth© Photo: Getty Images

Liam Hemsworth

The Australian actor, who has stared in The Last Song, The Hunger Games and in Independence Day: Resurgence began his career in 2007 in hit Australian soap Neighbours. Liam played Josh Taylor, an athletic paraplegic who supported a character who became paralysed in one side after a car crash.

margot robbie© Photo: Getty Images

Margot Robbie

Margot's award nomination history is impressive, most recently, she was nominated for Supporting Actress in her role as Queen Elizabeth I in Mary Queen of Scots at the BAFTAs. The 28-year-old narrowly missed out on an Academy Award in 2018 for Best Performance by an Actress in a leading role for I, Tonya. The actress, who also starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, started her acting career back in 2008, where she was cast as Donna Freedman in hit Australian soap Neighbours.

martine mccutcheon smiling love actually© Photo: Getty Images

Martine McCutcheon

The 42-year-old is best known for her role as Natalie in Love Actually, where she starred alongside Hugh Grant, who appeared as the British Prime Minister. This role led the actress to be honored a MTV Movie Award for Best Transatlantic Breakthrough Performer and the title of Best Newcomer at the Empire Awards in 2004. Before her film success, Martine starred for three years as Tiffany Mitchell in EastEnders, appearing in 364 episodes. Her soap success saw her win the 1997 National Television Award for most popular actress and a TV Quick award for Best Actress. The star also appeared in two episodes of The Bill.

nathalie emmanuel© Photo: Getty Images

Nathalie Emmanuel

Nathalie played Sasha Valentine in Hollyoaks from 2006 to 2010. After leaving, the British actress made her film debut in the British thriller Twenty8k. However, her big break was the following year where she was cast as Missandei, in Game of Thrones. In 2015, the 29-year-old appeared as Megan Ramsey in Furious 7 and played Harriet in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. In an interview with Grazia, Nathalie explained the attention was "overwhelming" after first appearing in Game of Thrones.

rachel shenton and chris overton© Photo: Getty Images

Rachel Shenton and Chris Overtom

Rachel Shenton was best known for playing Mitzee Minniver on Hollyoaks, although she had before starred in small recurring parts in Holby City and Waterloo Road. Despite starring in U.S drama Switched at Birth, Rachel really hit Hollywood in 2018, where the short film that she wrote and starred in The Silent Child, won an Oscar for live action short film. After the award Rachel spoke to Good Morning Britain stating: "I remember having this idea (for the film) in my bedroom when I was living in LA", going on to explain how her husband Chris Overton encouraged her to write it down and go from there. The premise of the film follows a deaf four-year-old called Libby who lives in a world of silence until a social worker (played by Rachel) teaches her how to communicate through sign language. Her husband Chris, who also starred in Hollyoaks alongside Rachel, directed the film that won at the 90th Academy Awards. Rachel’s acceptance speech went viral after she decided to use sign language in respect for the starring deaf actress Maisie Sly.

ricky whittle© Photo: Getty Images

Ricky Whittle

The 37-year-old played Calvin Valentine, a police man, in Hollyoaks from 2006 until 2010, where he was murdered by Theresa McQueen (Jorgie Porter). Shortly after his Hollyoaks death, Ricky spoke to Digital Spy explaining that he chose to leave the show in an attempt to become famous in America. In 2014, Ricky joined the post-apocalyptic drama The 100, as Lincoln, after starring as a regular in Single Ladies. Ricky had a career breakthrough in 2016 where he was cast as the lead role in American Gods, an American fantasy drama television series that is set to return for another series in March 2019.

robert kazinsky© Photo: Getty Images

Robert Kazinsky

Robert played EastEnders Sean Slater for three years where he won a British Soap Award for Best Actor in 2009. In 2012, Robert appeared in True Blood before getting a role in the science-fiction monster film Pacific Rim as an Australian Jaeger pilot. The soap actor also went on to star in WarCraft, released in May 2016, and Netflix film Mute. In January 2019, it had been announced that Robert will return to his role in EastEnders as Sean Slater by the end of the year.

More TV and Film

See more