biggest stars from hollyoaks

All the *huge* acting stars who started out in the Hollyoaks cast

It gave James Corden his first big break, btw

The golden era of Hollyoaks was between 2006 and 2014 – you can’t change my mind. The days of Footballers’ Wives were long gone and the teen soap filled a gaping, sexy, far-fetched and high camp hole on TV.

Hollyoaks was generating some massive stars during this period, some of whom went on to break America just a few years after they left. From a British TV drama icon to a Game of Thrones legend and even an OSCAR WINNER – let’s take a look at some of the biggest acting stars who got their start in the Hollyoaks cast:

Ricky Whittle

biggest stars from hollyoaks

Photo via KTLA 5

Ricky played Calvin Valentine between 2006 and 2009; eventually getting killed off by Theresa McQueen, the mother of his secret baby. He was mostly known for taking his top off and seducing all the women in the village – which actually earned him a Sexiest Male nomination at the British Soap Awards. But after his character was fatally shot at his wedding, it wasn’t long until Ricky was back on our screens.

After stints on Strictly and NCIS, the actor gained a huge fanbase through his starring role in American Gods, as well as Netflix film Nappily Ever After.

Roxanne McKee

biggest stars from hollyoaks

Photo via YouTube

Yet another mystery wedding day death happened in Hollyoaks back in 2008. Roxanne McKee played Louise Summers; the tragic girlfriend of villainous club owner, Warren Fox. After she suddenly disappeared on her big day, viewers went three years without knowing what happened to her. In 2011, Warren finally confessed to her murder.

In 2017, actress Roxanne McKee relocated to LA, and she became a bit of a household name across the pond. She starred in Game of Thrones between 2011 and 2012, as well as Strikeback: Retribution and The Legend of Hercules.

Nathalie Emmanuel

nathalie emmanuel

Photo via ABC

Across four years, Nathalie played Ricky Whittle’s sister in Hollyoaks. Sasha Valentine was written into a number of traumatic storylines; like heroin addiction, surviving an attack and a toxic relationship with killer Warren Fox.

While discussing her incredible career on Jimmy Kimmel, Nathalie revealed she’d struggled to find work after leaving Hollyoaks. Between 2010 and 2013, she worked on-and-off in retail.

After starring in Game of Thrones for six years, the actor never looked back. She featured in Mindy Kaling’s Four Weddings and a Funeral reboot, as well as the Maze Runner series. In 2021, she was even nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award; making Nathalie one of the biggest stars from Hollyoaks.

Emmett J. Scanlan

emmett j scanlan biggest stars from hollyoaks

Photo via London Live

Lets face it, Emmett J. Scanlan will probably go down in history as one of the greatest actors to grace the Hollyoaks high streets. Brendan Brady was a hugely multi-layered character – and pretty likeable, for a serial killer.

After leaving in 2013 to pursue other projects, Emmett’s first job was in The Fall; a police drama starring Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson. He’s been in tons of TV since, and you might recognise him from No Offence, Harlan Coben’s Safe or Peaky Blinders.

Rachel Shenton

rachel shenton

Photo via YouTube

Ladies and gentlemen, we have an Oscar winner in our midst. About a decade before she became Academy Award Winner Rachel Shenton, the actress played Mitzeee (not a typo – there really were three e’s) Minniver, a glamour model and “professional WAG,” as misogynists used to say.

In 2017, Rachel won an Oscar for her short film, The Silent Child. Having grown up using British Sign Language (BSL) with her dad, who was deaf, the actress wrote and produced a short film dedicated to the deaf community. It premiered at the London Independent Film Festival and was later aired by BBC One. Undoubtedly, Rachel is one of the biggest stars from Hollyoaks.

Since her award win, Rachel starred in the second series of White Gold, as well as All Creatures Great and Small.

Bronagh Waugh

bronagh waugh

Photo via London Live

Bronagh played Cheryl; the unwitting sister of Brendan Brady. Alongside Emmett J. Scanlan, she starred as Jamie Dornan’s wife in The Fall shortly after leaving Hollyoaks. Since then, she’s gone on to star in Derry Girls, King Gary and new ITV drama, Our House.

James Corden

james corden

Photo via CBS

Right, the rumours are true. James Corden got his first proper TV acting role in Hollyoaks – *way* back in 1999. He played Wayne, a caretaker who worked at Hollyoaks Community College, and was only there for a few episodes. Speaking to the New Yorker in 2020, James admitted he was offered a £70,000 contract to stay on as his character. Due to alleged fat-shaming issues, he turned it down.

The Late Late Show presenter got his big break as the co-writer and star of Gavin and Stacey in 2007. After a few years of making iffy films (including one called Lesbian Vampire Killers??), James spent the early 2010s establishing his career in Hollywood. As well as his regular presenting gig, he’s also starred in The Prom, Cinderella and that cursed adaptation of Cats.

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Featured image via Instagram before edits.