From Roy’s Rolls to the red carpet: 14 soap stars who tried to crack America

And, of course, those who, erm, didn't... 💀

Soap stars tried to crack Hollywood

by Jack White |
Updated on

Over the years we've seen many soap stars attempt to "try other things", including make it big in America, but how many actually do?

As you probably know, when soap actors get typecast as a character; it can be hard for them to break away from it. Many famous faces from EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks have attempted to crack Hollywood over the years but, while some have soared, others have fallen.

So, we've decided to round up the soap stars who have failed at making it in America and, of course, the ones who have made it pretty big out in stateside.

From EastEnders' Ben Hardy and Patsy Palmer to Hollyoaks turned Game of Thrones actresses Nathalie Emmanuel and Roxanne McKee; these are the soap stars turned Hollywood actors...

Check out: soap stars who tried to make it big in America


The soap stars who tried to crack Hollywood - STACKED

Emmett J Scanlan1 of 14
CREDIT: Lime Pictures & Shutterstock

Emmett J Scanlan

He played the infamous villain on Hollyoaks but Brendan Brady soon turned into the good guy following his relationship with Ste Hay. However, in 2013 he left the Channel 4 show and went on to appear in Peaky Blinders, Gangs of London and one of the Guardians of the Galaxy films – as the head riot guard, but still.

Adele Silva2 of 14
CREDIT: Shutterstock / Rex

Adele Silva

Adele left the role of Kelly Windsor in Emmerdale in 2007 in an attempt to crack America. But, instead of setting Hollywood alight, in 2010 she was pictured working in a Ted Baker store in LA. She then returned to Emmerdale as Kelly in 2011 but left shortly after.

Nikki Sanderson3 of 14
CREDIT: Shutterstock / Rex, Sony Pictures, Lime Pictures

Nikki Sanderson

Everyone knows Nikki as mouthy hairdresser Candice from Coronation Street. After leaving the cobbles she tried her hand at success across the pond – to a lukewarm reception. She managed to land a role in horror film Boogeyman 3, but sadly for Nikki it went straight to DVD. Fast forward to 2012 and she joined the cast of Hollyoaks as Maxine Minniver.

Nathalie Emmanuel4 of 14
CREDIT: Lime Pictures, HBO, Universal Pictures

Nathalie Emmanuel

She shot to fame in the UK as Sasha Valentine on the Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks, but since her exit in 2010 she's managed to find fame stateside. As well as an appearance in the Fast and Furious franchise, Nathalie Emmanuel, landed a role in Game of Thrones as interpreter Missandei. She also features in the second film in the Maze Runner trilogy, The Scorch Trials.

Ricky Whittle5 of 14
CREDIT: Lime Pictures, The CW, Starz

Ricky Whittle

Another Valentine sibling to swap Hollyoaks for Hollywood was Ricky who played Calvin from 2006 until 2011. Unfortunately, he was shot dead on his wedding day by Theresa McQueen. He went on to star in The CW Network series The 100, playing Lincoln, and American Gods where he took on the role of Shadow Moon.

Ben Hardy6 of 14
CREDIT: BBC & 20th Century Fox

Ben Hardy

This is one actor who has well and truly swapped Walford for Hollywood. After his shock departure from EastEnders, in which he played Peter Beale aka Ian Beale's son, Ben Hardy landed a role in X-Men: Apocalypse – an actual main, speaking part. He's also appeared in Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Shelley and Netflix's movie 6 Underground.

Sam Strike7 of 14
CREDIT: BBC & Netflix

Sam Strike

Another EastEnders alumni, Sam Strike quit his role as Johnny Carter in 2014 and went on to star in British drama film Bonded By Blood 2. He later made his Hollywood debut in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel Leatherface and has since played a serial rapist in the Netflix show Mindhunter. In 2022 it was announced that Sam had been cast in a starring role in the film adaption of The Boys in the Boat, which is being directed by George Clooney – you can't get much more Hollywood than that.

Robert Kazinsky8 of 14
CREDIT: BBC, Warner Bros. Pictures, Universal Pictures

Robert Kazinsky

Rob Kazinsky played EastEnders favourite Sean Slater from 2006 until 2009, but got his big American break when he was cast in the hit vampire series True Blood, playing Macklyn Warlow. He then appeared in Pacific Rim, Warcraft and Captain Marvel. Rob returned to EastEnders for a brief stint in 2019 and two more one-off appearances in the soap that made him a household name; in the episode aired on 1 November 2021, and then via video call on 7 April 2022.

Patsy Palmer9 of 14
CREDIT: BBC & Rex / Shutterstock

Patsy Palmer

We loved Patsy as Bianca in EastEnders, but she left the soap in 2014 to pursue her American dream. While she's yet to be cast in any major roles, Patsy did manage to land a job in a Best Buy advert. Well everyone's got to start somewhere, haven't they? And despite being an actress turned DJ, it's Patsy's children that have made it big in the US. In January 2020 Patsy appeared as Butterfly on ITV's The Masked Singer and then Dancing on Ice in 2023.

Lacey Turner10 of 14

Lacey Turner

She's well known for playing Stacey Slater in EastEnders but in 2010 Lacey Turner bowed out of the show after her onscreen character fled the country after killing Archie Mitchell. Ahh throwback. Following her departure from the show, Lacey played the part of a witch in ITV2's show Switch, but it wasn't long before she reprised her role as Stacey. In 2014 she headed back onto the square and finally confessed to the police that she killed Archie.

Michelle Keegan11 of 14

Michelle Keegan

Coronation Street fans will remember where Michelle Keegan first started on TV and it was on the cobbles. The actress played Tina McIntyre and during her time on the show she hid her abortion from David Platt, she tried to keep Gary and Izzy's baby after she was their surrogate and she was left devastated after her dad faked his own death but ended up actually dying. It's safe to say that she went out with a bang, after all Rob Donovan pushed her off a balcony. After leaving the ITV show, Michelle went on to star in Tina and Bobby, Our Girl and Brassic – oh, and she also married TOWIE icon Mark Wright.

Rachel Shenton12 of 14
CREDIT: Lime Pictures & The Silent Child

Rachel Shenton

From 2010 to 2013 Rachel Shenton starred in Hollyoaks as Mitzeee Minniver. The feisty character left the show and moved to America upon discovering she's five months pregnant with Riley Costello's baby. After leaving the Oaks, Rachel went on to star in Switched at Birth and White Gold. However, it was in 2018 when she won an Oscar for her short movie The Silent Child, in which she wrote and starred in.

Martine McCutcheon13 of 14
CREDIT: BBC & Universal Pictures

Martine McCutcheon

She's well known for playing Tiffany Mitchell in EastEnders but after Frank Butcher ran her over outside the Queen Vic she died. Fast forward a few years and Martine McCutcheon played Natalie in Love Actually. You know, the movie that everyone goes crazy about around Christmas time. She's also appeared in Agatha Christie's Marple, Midsomer Murders and as a panelist on Loose Women.

Roxanne McKee14 of 14
CREDIT: Lime Pictures & HBO

Roxanne McKee

Roxanne McKee first graced our screen as Louise Summer's in Hollyoaks. During her time in the village she cheated on Calvin Valentine with Warren Fox, had an abortion after not knowing who her baby daddy was and was murdered by her fiancée Warren Fox on their wedding night. After leaving the Channel 4 show, Roxanne went on appear in EastEnders: E20, Vendetta and Game of Thrones. In the popular HBO programme, she played Doreah; you know, the woman who betrayed Daenerys with Xaro and was left to die in the vault with him?

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