It's no secret that television is a starting block for many Academy Award hopefuls. Several Oscar-winning actresses, like Hilary Swank and Sissy Spacek, starred in their fair share of made-for-TV-movies and mini-series on their way to the top. Others, like Jodie Foster and Sally Field, started out on mainstream sitcoms and dramas. Some even return to TV after their wins: Kate Winslet, who won Best Actress last year for The Reader, is set to star in the new HBO mini-series Mildred Pierce. And though it's somewhat rare, we love it when Oscar-winners return to the small screen. Here are nine of the best actresses to sign up for apres-Oscar roles on TV.
Liza Minnelli won Best Actress in 1972 for her role as Sally Bowles in Cabaret... and went on to spend 30 years as tabloid-fodder with three divorces, several failed comeback attempts, and countless health problems. In 2003, she poked fun at her own campiness and guest-starred in ten episodes of the short-lived sitcom Arrested Development as the kooky, vertigo-plagued Lucille Austero.
Sally Field won Best Actress in 1979 for her role as the title character in Norma Rae, and again in 1984 for her role as Edna Spalding in Places in the Heart. (She later starred in Forrest Gump (1994) and won an Emmy for her recurring role as Maggie Wyczenski on ER.) Since 2006, Field has played Nora Walker, the stubborn family matriarch on the soap-y ensemble-cast drama Brothers and Sisters.
Charlize Theron won Best Actress in 2003 for her intense, transformative role as Aileen Wuornos in Monster. She since received one more Oscar nomination, for her role in North Country. In 2005 she appeared on Arrested Development as Rita, the mentally-challenged love interest of Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman). The show occasionally cited Theron's Oscar-winning role, using images of her as Wuornos to show what the beautiful Rita looked like "before reconstructive surgery."
Linda Hunt won Best Supporting Actress in 1983 for her cross-gender, cross-cultural role as Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously. From 1997 to 2002, she played the recurring role of Judge Zoey Hiller on The Practice; since 2009, she has starred as Operations Manager Hetty Lange on NCIS: Los Angeles.