Admit it: when you first saw some of these rising stars years ago in that classic film or groundbreaking television sitcom, you just knew that some of them were about to skyrocket to the top tier in Hollywood.

However, for every Samuel L. Jackson (Coming to America) or Morgan Freeman (“Sesame Street”), who took a gang of cameos and bit roles to catapult themselves into top-tier mainstream success, others either faded into undeserved obscurity or were unable to parlay those dynamic artistic performances into consistently riveting roles.

Below are some of the actors we thought would be much bigger stars than they actually are.

1. Matthew Perry: he was clearly the breakout star of one of the most popular sitcoms of the modern era, “Friends.” He also showed that his talents were transferable to the big screen when he starred in the hilarious comedy Whole Nine Yards. But when “Friends” ended, so did the magic, and it Jennifer Aniston wound up being the biggest star to rise out of the group.

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  • Kim C.

    Well, there’s something to be said for the fact that the majority of these actors compiled in this section are African American. There are limited opportunities for African American actors in Hollywood, which is unfortunate, and which is why we see the same actors recycled time and time again. Those are the ones that reach the top like Denzel, Sam Adams, Will Smith, and Jamie Foxx to name a few (or most). Zoey Saldana is probably the top black grossing female, and she doesn’t even consider herself “African American.” All in all, talent or not, it’s rough out here for talented African American actors to ascend to the top in Hollywood (sigh).