ByRicky Derisz, writer at Creators.co
Staff Writer at MP. "Holy cow, Rick! I didn't know hanging out with you was making me smarter!" Twitter: @RDerisz.
Ricky Derisz

Nothing beats the cinematic experience. A huge part of the fun is the process - the build up to seeing my most eagerly anticipated blockbuster, finally entering the cinema and settling in to my seat, the dimming of the lights and of course the dazzling big screen.

TV shows are a different beast entirely. But that's not to say they don't offer something just as enthralling. In recent years, the small screen has received somewhat of a renaissance. And the big names in Hollywood want to be a part of it.

The budgets for modern TV programs now rival any big blockbuster. For example, the first season of Netflix's Marco Pollo cost $90m to make, whilst one particular one hour episode of Game of Thrones cost $8m. That's over $130,000 per minute of screen time!

Kit Harrington plays Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
Kit Harrington plays Jon Snow in Game of Thrones

In a reflection of growing budgets and possibly also growing interests, a number of high profile names have taken part in lead roles. The first season of True Detective starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The former an Academy Award winner, the latter a nominee. This isn't a place for stars to enter during their twilight years, far from it.

Claire Danes and Damian Lewis are the leads in Homeland. Zooey Deschanel stars in New Girl, and everyone's favorite oddball Steve Buscemi portrayed Enoch "Nucky" Thompson in Boardwalk Empire, which was directed by big screen legend Martin Scorsese.

Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire
Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire

The one big edge TV series have over films is the run time. Even epic blockbusters such as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are under four hours, which equates to just a quarter of one season of most series.

As a result, actors may see screen acting as an interesting challenge to fully integrate and develop their character, over hours and hours of screen time. The pace is naturally slower, with characters idiosyncrasies given more room to develop and the lines between fact and fiction blur. For example, despite appearances in classic films such as Fargo and The Big Lewbowski, I never really felt I fully appreciated Steve Buscemi until I gorged on all five seasons of Boardwalk in a couple of months.

Furthermore, in a revolutionary change of viewing habits, for some series we're no longer drip fed episode by episode, week by week. For example on Netflix, all episodes of popular series such as House of Cards and Arrested Development were made available to stream at the same time.

David Cross as Tobias in the Arrested Development
David Cross as Tobias in the Arrested Development

In honor of the influx of high profile actors making their way to the small screen, here are my top six shows where Hollywood's finest generally take a leading role.

1. Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood in House of Cards

He works bloody hard I tell you...
He works bloody hard I tell you...

There's no denying it, Kevin Spacey is an absolute don. He's one of the most iconic working actors today, and films such as American Beauty and The Usual Suspects are forever etched in my top 10.

It was a huge coup for Netflix to produce an original series with someone held in such high esteem in the leading role. Not only that, David Fincher, director of huge movies such as Fight Club and The Social Network, even directed a number of episodes.

Spacey's portrayal of Frank Underwood, a dogged politician who will do (literally) anything it takes to get to the top, is instantly unforgettable. Although the series doesn't hold back on it's intricate expression of American politics (which, I admit, is lost on me at times) the ingenuity of Underwood's twisted manipulation is a joy to watch.

See an amusing mix mash of Frank giving lessons on ruthlessness below:

2. Matthew McConaughey as "Rust" Cohle in True Detective

His art lessons had finally paid off
His art lessons had finally paid off

Okay, I'll admit it. I went to the cinema to watch Failure to Launch, and I didn't hate it. I actually kind of enjoyed myself, but I was on a date so perhaps that added to the occasion.

Like everyone else, I was just as surprised to witness McConaughey perform one of Hollywood's finest transformations - from Rom Com extraordinaire to one of the industries finest working actors.

Although impressive roles in Wolf of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers Club cemented his status as a serious and highly talented actor, for me his role as "Rust" Cohle in True Detective is what really sets him apart.

Knock knock, who's there?
Knock knock, who's there?

He played the damaged-yet-insanely-driven-to-achieve-justice role incredibly well, and his on screen chemistry with Woody Harrelson produced one of the best on screen cop partnerships of his generation.

The only disappointment is he wouldn't return for season two. And the fact I wouldn't see his hilarious moustache anymore.

3. Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day in New Girl

Jess had had a lot on her plate lately
Jess had had a lot on her plate lately

I had a not so secret crush on Zooey Deschanel, mainly instigated by 500 Days of Summer. Which is weird, because she's actually pretty mean in that...

Anyway, her performance as Jess in New Girl is cringeworthy and hilarious in equal measure, and the chemistry she shares with the rest of the cast makes for a laugh a minute sitcom.

It's one of the most easy to watch shows on TV, and each 20 minute episode is always guaranteed to have some form of hilarity in it, more often than not centred around Jess' comical way of living, such as the clip below:

But, don't tell anyone, Schmidt is actually my favorite.

4. Steve Buscemi as "Nucky" Thompson in Boardwalk Empire

It was dress down Friday at Nucky's office
It was dress down Friday at Nucky's office

Who doesn't enjoy a good gangster story? Add in to the mix real-life characters like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano, and then, to top it all off, Steve Buscemi in a leading role, and you have Boardwalk Empire.

In all of the other movies I'd seen "Crazy Eyes," he'd always played a goofy yet likeable oddball. His character of "Nucky" Thompson allowed Buscemi to develop into a complete badass.

Such is his charm, you always felt there was something hiding below the surface, and the duality of his performance left me unsure whether to love or hate the guy.

5. Claire Danes as Carrie Matheson in Homeland

Carrie had taken Facebook stalking to a new level
Carrie had taken Facebook stalking to a new level

If her role in Homeland isn't enough to make you love Claire Danes, the fact she is a huge fan of the Berlin techno scene after filming in the city should just about do it. Check out her discussing her love of electronic music with Ellen DeGeneres below:

Prior to her on screen appearance, Danes was perhaps best known for starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the modern adaptation Romeo and Juliet. In Homeland, she plays Carrie Matheson, a top CIA agent who also suffers from bipolar disorder. It's testament to her performance that she outshines another famous name in Damian Lewis.

I'm a big Claire Danes fan, and for me personally, she's managed to keep Homeland interesting for the five seasons, despite what I feel is a slightly limited storyline (I won't give anything away, but it's always struggle to recover from the climax in season one in my opinion).

6. Christian Slater as Mr. Robot in... Mr. Robot

He decided to get trolley on the subway
He decided to get trolley on the subway

Last on our list is a recent addition, with Mr. Robot airing this year, as well as being available to stream on Amazon Prime. Although Christian Slater is perhaps more of a star of yesteryear, he was a huge name in the '90s.

Mr. Robot provides a unique commentary on society through the protagonist, Elliot Alderson, a computer hacker who feels lonely and generally jaded with society.

Christian Slater, who plays Mr. Robot, fronts a specialist hacking group who are determined to destroy the worlds 1%, and attempt to get Elliot on board to help them.

Slater himself seems more comfortable on TV, having starred on and off in various dramas over the past decade or so. But it's his role in Mr Robot that could raise the bar, and perhaps even bag him an award or two. It's already been renewed for a second season due to it's critical acclaim.

Source: Wikipedia

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