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Days of Their Lives: Eight Surprising Celebrity Soap Stars

James Franco explains his November 2009–January 2010 turn on General Hospital as part of a “meta-documentary” (i.e., an elaborate prank), but we know better—soap operas are an embarrassing, but necessary, rite of passage for most Tinseltown A-listers. From Brad Pitt to Meg Ryan to Leo DiCaprio, many stars get their big break on soaps, and even if they’ve forgotten, IMDB hasn’t.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio

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He starred in the highest-grossing film of all time—"Titanic"—and is Martin Scorsese’s film muse, but DiCaprio got his big break as Mason Capwell, the darkly sardonic attorney on "Santa Barbara" (1990).

Photo: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

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Before he sparred with Kirk, lived long, and prospered on "Star Trek," Nimoy played mental patient Bernie on "General Hospital" for one season (1963).

Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin

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He’s played the sexy Jack Donaghy on the hilarious sitcom "30 Rock" and romanced Meryl Streep in "It’s Complicated," but Baldwin’s first role was as Billy Aldrich on the short-lived soap "The Doctors" (1980–82).

Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan

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America’s 1990s sweetheart was more spice than sugar as bitchy Betsy Stewart on "As the World Turns" (1982–84).

Photo: Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

Courteney Cox

Courteney Cox

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Before the success of "Friends" and the failure of "Cougar Town," Cox guest-starred as Bunny, a spoiled rich girl, on "As the World Turns" (1984).

Photo: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Demi Moore

Demi Moore

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Moore was a huge ’80s star as part of the Brat Pack, but her first role was as investigative reporter Jackie Templeton on "General Hospital" (1982–83). Maybe it was just practice for her current role as Cougar Queen of Hollywood?

Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore

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Moore sure knows how to rack up acting accolades. In addition to her Oscar, her Golden Globe, and her SAG nominations, she won a Daytime Emmy in 1988 for her role as twins Frannie and Sabrina Hughes on "As the World Turns."

Photo: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt

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We all remember the moment Pitt burst onscreen as the hunky cowboy in "Thelma and Louise" (1990), but did anyone see his 1987 guest-starring appearance as Randy on "Dallas"? Pitt himself says, “[I was] just an idiot boyfriend who gets caught in the hay.” How far you’ve come, Brad.

Photo: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

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