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Famous actors who starred in Doctor Who before breaking into Hollywood: From an Oscar-nominated actress to a Marvel star – as the 60th anniversary specials’ release dates are confirmed


Doctor Who has hosted a whole array of stars since its 2005 revival and has even launched the careers of some now-household names.

As well as names including David Tennant and Matt Smith taking on the titular role, the sci-fi franchise’s guest stars have also gone on to launch Hollywood careers.

Oscar-nominated and award-winning actress Carey Mulligan appeared in a very popular episode of Doctor Who before soaring to global fame just years later.

Marvel’s Letitia Wright also appeared on the show before becoming a household name, along with Hollywood stars including Daniel Kaluuya and Andrew Garfield.

As the release dates for Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary specials are confirmed, MailOnline takes a look at the stars you may not remember appeared on the show.

Pre-fame: Doctor Who has hosted a whole array of stars since its 2005 revival and has even launched the careers of some now-household names, including Carey Mulligan

Pre-fame: Doctor Who has hosted a whole array of stars since its 2005 revival and has even launched the careers of some now-household names, including Carey Mulligan

CAREY MULLIGAN

One of Doctor Who’s scariest and most popular episodes was 2007’s Blink, starring David Tennant’s Doctor and Freema Agyeman as his assistant Martha Jones.

But the character who was the focus of the nail-biting episode was none other than Carey Mulligan, just years before she became a household name.

Carey was in her early 20s when she took on the role of Sally Sparrow, who receives a mysterious message from the Doctor about an enemy species after the TARDIS.

The drama-packed episode saw the now-infamous villains the Weeping Angels introduced to the Doctor Who universe as Sally desperately tried to fight them off.

Just two years later, Carey soared to huge acclaim with her 2009 breakthrough role in An Education, which saw her take home a BAFTA for Best Actress.

The romance film, which was Carey’s first major leading role, also saw her nominated for the Best Actress gong at the Oscars that same year.

Since, Carey has become a household name and has carved out a hugely successful acting career, again being nominated for an Oscar for Promising Young Woman.

She has also starred in smash hit The Great Gatsby, as well as Pride and Prejudice and Far from the Madding Crowd.

Scary: One of Doctor Who's scariest and most popular episodes was 2007's Blink, starring Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow

Scary: One of Doctor Who’s scariest and most popular episodes was 2007’s Blink, starring Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow 

Fame: Since, Carey has become a household name and has carved out a hugely successful acting career, again being nominated for an Oscar for Promising Young Woman

Fame: Since, Carey has become a household name and has carved out a hugely successful acting career, again being nominated for an Oscar for Promising Young Woman

LETITIA WRIGHT

Before soaring to global fame as Shuri in Black Panther, Letitia Wright appeared in Doctor Who in a one-off appearance in Face the Raven.

The well-remembered episode sees assistant Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) tragically die after her heroics cost her greatly, and Letitia is also in the episode.

Letitia plays Anahson in the emotional episode and plays a pivotal role in the plot, which also sees Maisie Williams star as Ashildr, also known as Me.

Since her minor role on the BBC show, Letitia has gone on to storm Hollywood after securing a major role in Black Panther.

She starred as the late Chadwick Boseman’s sister Shuri in the movie, before taking over the Black Panther mantle after Chadwick’s tragic death in 2020 after a private battle with colon cancer.

As well as starring in Black Panther and its sequel Wakanda Forever, Letitia also secured a role in Kenneth Branagh’s star-studded movie Death on the Nile.

Throwback: Before soaring to global fame as Shuri in Black Panther, Letitia Wright appeared in Doctor Who in a one-off appearance in Face the Raven

Throwback: Before soaring to global fame as Shuri in Black Panther, Letitia Wright appeared in Doctor Who in a one-off appearance in Face the Raven

Marvel fame: She starred as the late Chadwick Boseman's sister Shuri in Black Panther, before taking over the Black Panther mantle after Chadwick's tragic death from cancer in 2020

Marvel fame: She starred as the late Chadwick Boseman’s sister Shuri in Black Panther, before taking over the Black Panther mantle after Chadwick’s tragic death from cancer in 2020 

ANDREW GARFIELD

Andrew Garfield may now be a huge Hollywood star, but he only had a few acting credits to his name when he appeared in Doctor Who in 2007.

He starred as a character called Frank in two episodes, Daleks in Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks.

His character bravely gets into a fight with the Daleks in the two-part storyline and amazingly survives after being freed by the Doctor.

After starring in Doctor Who, Andrew continued to rack up acting credits and then soared to global Hollywood fame as Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man.

He starred alongside Emma Stone in the smash-hit Spider-Man movie and its sequel, and recently made a guest appearance in Tom Holland’s Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Andrew has also shown off his musical talents starring as Jonathan Larson in tick, tick… BOOM!, and has most recently starred in Under the Banner of Heaven.

He is also starring alongside Florence Pugh in romance film We Live in Time, which does not yet have a confirmed release date. 

Remember? Andrew Garfield may now be a huge Hollywood star, but he only had a few acting credits to his name when he appeared in Doctor Who in 2007 in two episodes

Remember? Andrew Garfield may now be a huge Hollywood star, but he only had a few acting credits to his name when he appeared in Doctor Who in 2007 in two episodes 

Huge star: After starring in Doctor Who, Andrew continued to rack up acting credits and then soared to global Hollywood fame as Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man

Huge star: After starring in Doctor Who, Andrew continued to rack up acting credits and then soared to global Hollywood fame as Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man

DANIEL KALUUYA

Fans watching back Doctor Who’s 2009 Easter special Planet Of The Dead may notice a recognisable face making an appearance.

Daniel Kaluuya played Barclay in the episode and helps the Doctor get a London bus out of a tricky situation in an alien world in his one-off appearance as a guest star.

Since then, Daniel has stormed Hollywood and racked up a huge number of acting credits, including as W’Kabi in Black Panther.

He won huge praise for his roles in horror movies Get Out and Nope!, while he has also starred in Queen and Slim alongside Jodie Turner Smith. 

Last year, Daniel revealed he nearly quit acting altogether before securing his role in Get Out, after going through a year and a half stretch where he hadn’t worked.

Kaluuya told director Jordan Peele: ‘I’ve never told you this, but when you reached out to me and we had that Skype, I was really disillusioned with acting. I had stopped acting for like a year and a half.’

‘I checked out, because I was just like, this isn’t working. I wasn’t getting roles, because racism and all this kind of stuff—so you reaching out was like, Okay, I’m not crazy. It’s proper. It’s going to be all right,’ Kaluuya admitted.

Get out: Peele revealed it that it was Kaluuya's work in the 2011 Black Mirror episode Fifteen Million Merits that lead to wanting him to audition for Get Out

Get out: Peele revealed it that it was Kaluuya’s work in the 2011 Black Mirror episode Fifteen Million Merits that lead to wanting him to audition for Get Out

OLIVIA COLMAN 

Olivia Colman is a household name in the British acting world, but fans may not remember that she once starred in Doctor Who.

The award-winning actress made a guest appearance in Matt Smith and Karen Gillan’s first ever episode of Doctor Who as the Doctor and Amy Pond respectively.

Olivia appeared as the episode’s villain Prisoner Zero, who appeared in many forms, including a mother of two daughters – who Olivia portrayed.

She was already well-established at the time of her 2010 appearance on the show, having rose to fame on the Channel 4 comedy Peep Show.

But her fleeting appearance on Doctor Who came before she soared to global fame and broke into Hollywood years later.

Olivia is now a globally-recognised name and won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role as Queen Anne in 2018’s The Favourite.

She also portrayed the late Queen Elizabeth in The Crown’s third and fourth series in another royal performance from the esteemed star. 

She also starred alongside Doctor Who star David Tennant in crime drama Broadchurch and secured a role in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s comedy Fleabag.

With a huge number of acting credits to her fame, Olivia has also starred alongside Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston in The Night Manager, and worked with Anthony Hopkins on The Father.

Most recently, she starred in hit romance film Empire of Light – which scooped up a whole host of awards – alongside Micheal Ward.

Guest star: Olivia Colman is a household name in the British acting world, but fans may not remember that she once starred in Doctor Who as a form of villain Prisoner Zero

Guest star: Olivia Colman is a household name in the British acting world, but fans may not remember that she once starred in Doctor Who as a form of villain Prisoner Zero

Royal: Olivia is now a globally-recognised name and won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role as Queen Anne in 2018's The Favourite

Royal: Olivia is now a globally-recognised name and won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role as Queen Anne in 2018’s The Favourite

Talented: Most recently, she starred in hit romance film Empire of Light - which scooped up a whole host of awards - alongside Micheal Ward

Talented: Most recently, she starred in hit romance film Empire of Light – which scooped up a whole host of awards – alongside Micheal Ward

FELICITY JONES

Felicity Jones has become a highly-recognised actress, but viewers may not remember her fleeting appearance in Doctor Who.

Joining a whole host of guest stars on the show, Felicity portrayed Robina Redmond in the Agatha Christie inspired episode, The Unicorn and the Wasp.

She starred alongside David Tennant as The Doctor and Catherine Tate as Donna Noble in the murder mystery style episode.

Since her 2008 appearance on the sci-fi series, Felicity has gone on to join the Star Wars universe, portraying Jyn Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

She also portrayed Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On The Basis Of Sex and starred alongside Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything.

The 2014 biographical film The Theory of Everything even earned her a Best Actress nomination at the Oscars.

Mystery: Felicity Jones has become a well-recognised actress, but viewers may not remember her appearance in Doctor Who's Agatha Christie inspired episode The Unicorn and the Wasp

Mystery: Felicity Jones has become a well-recognised actress, but viewers may not remember her appearance in Doctor Who’s Agatha Christie inspired episode The Unicorn and the Wasp

Franchise: Since her 2008 appearance on the sci-fi series, Felicity has gone on to join the Star Wars universe, portraying Jyn Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Franchise: Since her 2008 appearance on the sci-fi series, Felicity has gone on to join the Star Wars universe, portraying Jyn Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

GEMMA CHAN

One of Gemma Chan’s first ever TV roles was in Doctor Who’s 2009 episode The Waters of Mars.

In the episode, set on Mars in 2059, she portrayed a character named Mia Bennett, who is a geologist at Bowie Base One on Mars.

Since then, Gemma’s career has skyrocketed and she notably starred in Crazy Rich Asians as part of a star-studded cast in 2018.

Gemma has also stormed the Marvel Cinematic Universe, first portraying Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel, and then securing a role as heroine Sersi in Eternals.

She also starred in smash hit Don’t Worry Darling, which also starred Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde and Chris Pine, among other huge Hollywood names.

Early days: One of Gemma Chan's first ever TV roles was in Doctor Who's 2009 episode The Waters of Mars

Early days: One of Gemma Chan’s first ever TV roles was in Doctor Who’s 2009 episode The Waters of Mars

Leading star: Gemma has since stormed the Marvel Cinematic Universe, securing a role as heroine Sersi in Eternals alongside Richard Madden and Angelina Jolie

Leading star: Gemma has since stormed the Marvel Cinematic Universe, securing a role as heroine Sersi in Eternals alongside Richard Madden and Angelina Jolie 

JONATHAN BAILEY

He might now be best known as a Bridgerton heartthrob, but Jonathan Bailey previously appeared in Doctor Who.

His 2014 one-off appearance on the show came when he had already made a name for himself and had a huge string of acting credits to his name.

Jonathan portrayed a cybernetic human called Psi in the episode Time Heist, starring alongside the likes of Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Keeley Hawes. 

Fans might not remember his on-off appearance on the series, which came before he soared to global fame as Anthony Bridgerton in the Netflix hit.

Bridgerton viewers were left gripped by the second steamy series, which saw Jonathan’s character Anthony embark on a love triangle.

The drama saw Anthony intending to marry Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran) but he quickly falls in love with her older sister Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) and the pair share stolen intimate moments before finally professing their feelings.

Jonathan is now gearing up to play Fiyero in the upcoming film adaptation of Wicked, which will also star Ariana Grande. 

Sci-fi: He might now be best known as a Bridgerton heartthrob, but Jonathan Bailey previously appeared in Doctor Who

Sci-fi: He might now be best known as a Bridgerton heartthrob, but Jonathan Bailey previously appeared in Doctor Who

Raunchy: He has since soared to fame as Anthony Bridgerton as viewers were left gripped by his steamy romance with Simone Ashley's Kate Sharma

Raunchy: He has since soared to fame as Anthony Bridgerton as viewers were left gripped by his steamy romance with Simone Ashley’s Kate Sharma 

CHUKWUDI IWUJI

Another star from the Marvel Cinematic Universe who previously featured on Doctor Who was none other than Chukwudi Iwuji.

Chukwudi featured in two episodes of Doctor Who, starring as Carl Peterson in The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon.

His character played a very minor role in the episodes, starring alongside his Marvel co-star Karen Gillan.

However, years later in a Guardians Of The Galaxy group interview, Karen hilariously didn’t even remember his two-episode appearance on the show.

She was hilariously left shocked after learning her character Amy Pond asked his character Carl where the bathroom was in the scenes, with Chukwudi joking that he was ‘bad’ in the scenes.

Chukwudi later joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as villain the High Evolutionary, starring alongside Karen in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3.

Looking back: Another star from the Marvel Cinematic Universe who previously featured on Doctor Who was none other than Chukwudi Iwuji

Looking back: Another star from the Marvel Cinematic Universe who previously featured on Doctor Who was none other than Chukwudi Iwuji

Villain: Chukwudi later joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the High Evolutionary, starring alongside Karen in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3

Villain: Chukwudi later joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the High Evolutionary, starring alongside Karen in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3



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