Actors who made their name in film are poised to take home the lion's share of the Emmy awards but it's still hard for TV stars to make it in Hollywood.
24 Aug 2014 - 6:49 AM  UPDATED 24 Feb 2015 - 10:29 AM

Television is increasingly opening its doors to Hollywood stars, as the Emmy Awards will attest, but TV royalty still struggle to make the transition to the silver screen.

Seasoned actors Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey, Jon Voight, Jeff Daniels and Woody Harrelson are all nominated this year for Emmys after having built much of their careers in film.

McConaughey, a favourite to win a lead actor Emmy on Monday for his role in HBO crime drama True Detective, is riding high after winning an Academy Award for last year's Dallas Buyers Club.

House of Cards hero/villain Spacey already has two Oscar statuettes. Voight, nominated for Showtime's Ray Donovan, won a best actor Oscar a generation ago, while Harrelson (True Detective) is a two-time Oscar nominee.

For them, having a go in a successful broadcast or cable series adds gritty prestige to their glittering careers.

But cross-pollination in the other direction has proven more difficult.

Heart-throb George Clooney, who shot from the show ER into the Hollywood mega-star firmament, "was the last one who really did it," said Glenn Williamson, a professor at UCLA's School of Theatre, Film and Television.

In contrast, though Jennifer Aniston parlayed her "girl next door" appeal from hit show Friends into several big-screen roles, the 1990s comedy's other stars have had stunted success in the transition.

The same holds true for stars of more recent TV mega-hits like Desperate Housewives and Lost.

Some stars have thrived on television without ever becoming bankable in Hollywood: Julianna Margulies, David Duchovny and Robin Wright are among those who earned numerous film roles but never won the accolades there that came with TV.

Kerry Washington, praised as much for her role in Quentin Tarantino's movie Django Unchained as for TV's Scandal, is in that small clique of actors comfortably navigating between the two worlds.

Another is Claire Danes, who hit it big as teen Angela Chase in 1990s series My So-Called Life. She followed up with a number of roles in Hollywood films like Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet and Shopgirl before returning to television with a bang as the troubled star of Showtime thriller Homeland.