Channeling Fame

Twenty-five stars tell us about their first big break on the small screen.


Tori Spelling: "When I was five I went into my father's office and told him that I wanted to be an actress. He said, 'OK, I'll give you a couple of lines in Vega$. I did a scene with Dan Tanna in which I played his secretary's daughter. Everyone called me One-Take Tori, because I said all my lines perfectly."

Anne Heche: "I played twins on the soap Another World. Between the two characters I was either fucking my sister's husband or stealing my own child or getting abducted by insane people. But that's why it was so fun. The great thing was most people kept thinking I was really those characters, so depending on which twin they thought I was, they would either yell at me or love me."

Jada Pinkett: "After I auditioned for Debbie Allen for A Different World, she said, 'That was wonderful. You didn't get the part, but you've got angels on your shoulders.' Then [the producers] created a new role for me and ever since A Different World I've been flying."

Madeleine Stowe: "I played a young girl who had a crush on Baretta. I even offered myself to him--and he refused! Later I did an episode of Barnaby Jones with Ed Harris, and you won't believe who else was guest-starring--Sean Penn. I played a girl who was high on heroin and I said to Barnaby, 'Hi, are you enjoying the party?' I recently saw a rerun--what a riot."

Jeff Daniels: "The first thing I ever did on TV was a commercial for Pepto-Bismol. I played an American college student in Mexico. My parents come to visit and I explain that I had just been in a survey where 250 students who had diarrhea took Pepto-Bismol. Then I say, 'Boy, did it work.' My father turns to my mom and says, 'He passes one test in four years and it's a diarrhea test.'"

Richard Dreyfuss: "One of my first jobs was on Bewitched, where Samantha turns me into a dog. For 20 years I looked forward to seeing it on cable, and I could never find it. Finally a month ago I saw it. But after three minutes I turned it off, because I couldn't watch it."

Sandra Bullock: "I played the wheelchair-bound bionic girl on The Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman. I chose to have a bionic uh-hum [points down] as a character choice. When I'd have an orgasm I'd throw the guy through the wall."

Stephen Dorff: "When I was 16 I was on a few episodes of Roseanne. Those sitcom days were so surreal because I was going to school on the set and living with a different family. I had a good time with John Goodman. Roseanne never really talked to me."

Barbara Hershey: "Gidget was the very first thing I did. On the first day I remember Sally [Field] came up to me and said, 'I hear this is your first job, and if you ever want to talk or anything, just come to me.'"

Heather Locklear: "I have a long track record before Dynasty. I did a guest shot on Eight Is Enough where I dated one of the Bradford boys. Then I did guest roles on_ The Love Boat and _CHiPs. Then I was cast as the young cop Stacy Sheridan on TJ. Hooker. I don't think I've ever seen a cop in a tighter uniform."

Leonardo DiCaprio: "I played a young homeless boy who came to live with the Seaver family on Growing Pains. I always hoped I would get another role because I didn't want my tombstone to read, 'He was on Growing Pains.' "

David Duchovny: "I was a transvestite on Twin Peaks. I was such an ugly woman."

Pam Grier: "Miami Vice! I was Philip Michael Thomas's love interest. We had loads of sexy love scenes and to this day people always remind me of those steamy episodes."

Dermot Mulroney: "My first job ever was the TV movie Sin of Innocence. I couldn't believe I was sitting there talking to Bill Bixby. No shit, the Hulk!"

Laurence Fishburne: "I did a small role on Pee-wee's Playhouse. Unfortunately, I don't still have my magic lasso."

Jeff Bridges: "When I was about nine, I guest-starred on my dad's show Sea Hunt. I think I played one of those stupid kids who cast off in the water and then can't get back to shore. Of course, my father had to run in to save my life. It was a blast, though, because I got to work with him."

**Ray Liotta: **"I started off on the soap Another World and my character was such a sweet guy it was ridiculous. Towards the end of the show I married this beautiful blonde nurse who turned out to be the richest woman in America. But instead of enjoying the money I got an annulment from her just because she had lied to me. That's how goofy it got. When I quit the show, they had us remarry and I guess we're still in Switzerland skiing."

Annabella Sciorra: "I was just starting off in the business when I read in the paper about a TV movie with Sophia Loren that needed actors. I was so green that I just called up the network that was making the show and asked how I could get cast. The switchboard operator transferred me to a casting agent who explained the whole audition process. But I was even more bold when I went into my audition. I said, 'Look, I'm supposed to play this part,' as if I already had it. But you know what? I got the role."

Courteney Cox: "I was Alex P. Keaton's brainy girlfriend on_ Family Ties_." It was a great job because usually when you go into an established series you feel a little strange, because everyone already knows one another. But everyone made me feel welcome, which is what I try to do when someone guest-stars on Friends."

Lauren Holly: "I started on a soap as Julie from All My Children. It was trauma city for this girl because she found out that her father was an attacker and then she fell in love with a guy who pirated videos. To this day, it doesn't matter what movie I do, people still come up to me and ask, 'Aren't you Julie?'"

Jennifer Lopez: "When I was, like, 19 or 20 I was a Fly Girl on In Living Color. The other girls were all very thin and they always made me very conscious of my weight. I never let them know that it bothered me as much as it did, but it bothered me. I would fly home every weekend because I was so miserable."

Halle Berry: "My first television show was a series called Living Dolls, which was about four models. It's really a good thing that the show didn't [make it] because--and here's a scary thought--I could still be doing Living Dolls today."

Charlize Theron: "Six months after I got to L.A. I landed my first TV pilot called Hollywood Confidential, which starred Edward James Olmos and was from the creators of Miami Vice. I thought it was a pretty awesome first job."

Rosie Perez: "I was on Soul Train when I was 18 and I'm proud of it. But I laugh at myself when I look at it now. I think, 'Oh my God, I'm dancing like a slut in heat,' because I was humping and pumping along to the music and I wore three-inch heels and a short dress. At the time I was pretty embarrassed about it, too, and I would think, 'Oh my God, I'm turning into Charo! I'm humiliating myself on national TV.' When my father saw it he got really upset so I stopped."

Kevin Spacey: "I did seven episodes of Wiseguy until they killed me off. The show wasn't a big ratings hit so the CBS standards and practices people weren't even reading the scripts. We got away with murder. We had story lines that were outrageous like you'd never seen on prime-time television. The worst was the time my character was having an incestuous relationship with his sister."