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Many actors started their humble beginnings on the stage, whether it was a high school play, a middle school musical, or community theater. Usually the call to the stage has successful actors turning back to Broadway, sometimes to fulfill a dream of starring in a role that he or she really wanted to play, or the desire to sing and showcase a talented voice, possibly after taking private singing lessons, or just because they have a love and appreciation of live theater. We are going to take a look at 5 Hollywood Actors who’ve returned to Broadway and their reasons for doing so.


Jake Gyllenhaal

The Academy-Award nominee for movies Brokeback Mountain and Nightcrawler went to live theater in the Off-Broadway production of Nick Payne’s If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet in 2012. He later appeared in 4 benefit concerts for the Stephen Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George in 2016, where he was able to showcase his vocal talents. He later reprised the role on Broadway in 2017, alongside Annaleigh Ashford.

So why did he return to the stage? It was pretty simple for Jake. He notes that all of the actors that he’s looked up to growing up and over the years have all made their stake doing theater at some point in their career, so he figured he would too. And why not? He successfully showcased his talents on the stage, and many of his fans got to hear him sing as well, which was mighty impressive. Of course, who could forget his bombshell performance when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 2007?


Ben Platt

Ben captured hearts playing the awkward and lovable Benji in Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2. Being able to demonstrate his incredible singing voice in the movies definitely proved that he had great talent. But his biggest breakthrough role to date comes from his starring Broadway role of Evan in Dear Evan Hansen, which started as an Off-Broadway show and later made it to the Music Box Theater on Broadway in 2017. Ben won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance, and the show has been a huge success. Since Ben had a strong vocal and theater background, it was only appropriate that he go back to Broadway instead of sticking to the big screen. His passion is undeniable, and his vocals are infectious! He even did a mashup version of the song “You Will Be Found” mixed with Lin-Manual Miranda’s “Tonight” from Hamilton called “Found/Tonight” and used proceeds for charity. An amazing entertainer and a generous giver – who could ask for more?


Laura Linney

Laura is well-known for powerful roles in films, having starred in some fantastic movies like Congo, Primal Fear, The Truman Show, Mystic River, and Love Actually. However, she is also known in the theater world, having gotten her start on the stage back in 1990, before doing film. While building her career in Hollywood, she has continued her impressive work on the stage as well, appearing as the lead role of Elizabeth Proctor in the revival of the play The Crucible alongside Liam Neeson on Broadway in 2002, where she was nominated for a Tony Award. She also has appeared in the original Broadway productions of Sight Unseen and most recently, The Little Foxes, another revival done in 2017. Since getting her start on stage, Laura pays homage to her roots by going back time and time again. In The Dinner during her run in March 2017, she split her time playing two very different roles as both Regina and Birdie, because she loved both roles and wanted to be able to swap, showing off her talents, knowing it would be hard and challenging work. She loves the opportunity to try something new, and some of her most challenging times on stage or in films she has claimed to be “great fun.”

Matthew Broderick

A talented actor featured in The Lion King as Adult Simba’s voice and who made Ferris Bueller a common name for all in the 80’s nominated for a Golden Globe, Matthew Broderick was never a stranger to the stage. Before he did Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in 1986, Broderick had already received a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for Brighten Beach Memoirs in 1983. He returned to Broadway in 1995 starring as J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and winning the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical. From there he continued his Broadway success starring in shows such as The Producers in 2001 as Leo Bloom and reprising the role in the film version in 2005. Broadway has started and re-started Matthew’s Hollywood status, as well as aided it along. Matthew likes to keep both careers going, possibly for variety in his life, but it seems that for him when a good role comes along, whether on stage or on screen, he’s going to take it, and do his best at it. Well played, Matthew!

Daniel Radcliffe

Daniel exploded in Hollywood as the face of Harry Potter in the film series based off of J.K. Rowling’s book series. We watched the little boy grow into a man for 10 years throughout the movies as well, and had the pleasure of seeing his talent grow with him. Daniel went to Broadway to star in the same role that Matthew Broderick once did, J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying when it was revived in 2011. At the Tony Awards, Matthew Broderick actually introduced him when he performed a song from the show. He initially started working on the stage in London back in 2007 and received great praise from critics, which lead to his starring role on Broadway. Since his film success, he has continued to return to Broadway where he truly shines, showing everyone his passion for performing live on stage. He just recently debuted in The Lifespan of the Fact back in the fall of this year.


There are numerous reasons why actors have turned to Broadway. These are just a few of the many famous names we know showing off their talents on stage. Challenging roles, love of the stage, or just taking good roles as they come – all of these actors have benefited from their decisions. Which one is your favorite? What other actors can you think of that have truly shined in both film and on Broadway? Share with us in the comments!


Writer’s Bio: Donna Maurer
As an inspiring theatre actress in NYC, Donna has been creatively writing her way through acting school. Since attending her first Broadway show (Cats), Donna’s passion for performance and theatre has only grown. Currently, Donna is an active contributor to various theatre & film blogs.


As you can imagine, there are a lot more movie celebrities have appeared in the stages of Broadway. Here are 5 actors that you never knew starred on musicals.

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