10 Best Athletes Turned Action Stars: Success Stories


10 Best Athletes Turned Action Stars: Success Stories

Transitioning from the world of athletics to the glitz and glam of acting can be quite the adventure. But hold onto your seats, because Hollywood has witnessed some truly incredible transformations from athletes to action stars. Brace yourselves for a thrilling ride as we delve into the stories of these awe-inspiring individuals who have conquered both the sports arena and the silver screen.

Think you’ve seen it all? Think again! We’re about to unveil a lineup of superstars that will leave you in awe. From the likes of Dennis Rodman and Shaquille O’Neal, who tackled the challenges of acting head-on, to the unstoppable forces of Jason Statham and Terry Crews, these athletes-turned-actors have taken Hollywood by storm. But don’t be fooled – these aren’t just your average jocks trying their luck in showbiz. Oh no, these extraordinary talents bring their athletic prowess front and center, transforming into the ultimate action heroes right before our eyes.

Now, before we dive into these tales of triumph, let’s settle one thing: professional wrestling deserves a spot in this discussion. Love it or loathe it, we can’t deny the jaw-dropping physical feats accomplished by icons like Dwayne Johnson, Ronda Rousey, and John Cena. They’ve left us spellbound inside the ring, showcasing skills most of us could only fantasize about. So, let’s set aside any doubt and give credit where credit is due – their athleticism is truly something to behold.

Get ready to have your mind blown as we journey through the captivating stories of these superstar athletes turned silver screen sensations. And wait, there’s more! We’ve got an exciting update to share – the incredibly talented Trevante Rhodes has joined the ranks of these impressive additions. So buckle up, because this action-packed adventure is just getting started!

1. Jason Statham

Jason Statham
Jason Statham, a familiar face in Hollywood for over two decades, may seem an unlikely choice for a professional diver or model at this point in his career. However, before his Hollywood days, Statham showcased his talent as a remarkable diver, representing England at the 1990 Commonwealth Games before transitioning to modeling.

Credit for Statham’s acting career can be attributed to Guy Ritchie, who cast him in two of his early crime films, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.

When it comes to action films, Statham’s name speaks for itself. With an extensive filmography, including the Transporter trilogy, The Italian Job, Crank, The Bank Job, The Expendables trilogy, and the Fast & Furious franchise, Statham has established himself as an action movie icon. Even when he ventures into comedy, as seen in Spy, his performances still retain that action-oriented edge. It is his physicality that sets him apart and contributes to his success in this genre.

2. Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson, also known as The Rock, is widely recognized for his success in professional wrestling. However, not everyone is aware that he had a thriving career in football before that. In 1991, he achieved an NCAA championship with the Miami Hurricanes. Following this, he signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, although he was eventually released from the team after only two months. Nevertheless, it’s worth considering how many professional football teams you have played for, right?

After gaining some attention through his wrestling fame, Johnson made his entrance into the world of acting with minor television roles. However, it was his role as the Scorpion King in the 2001 film “The Mummy Returns” that marked his debut on the big screen. He reprised this role in the 2002 spinoff film, “The Scorpion King.”

There’s no denying that Johnson has established himself as one of the most well-known actors in the world. His filmography boasts an impressive array of action-packed movies, including “The Rundown,” “Walking Tall,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” “Pain & Gain,” “Faster,” “San Andreas,” “Rampage,” and “Skyscraper.” And let’s not forget about his recurring appearances in the fast-paced “Fast & Furious” franchise. The list goes on and on.

If Johnson has his way, he may even become the first action-star president of the United States. Who knows what the future holds for this multi-talented individual?

3. Dolph Lundgren

Dolph Lundgren
Dolph Lundgren is much more than just an athlete. With his multiple chemical engineering degrees, successful stint as a Kyokushin karate fighter, and lengthy acting career, he is truly one of the most interesting guys in Hollywood. He even holds a 4th-dan black belt in Kyokushin karate, adding to his impressive repertoire.

Lundgren’s acting career took off after his small role in the James Bond film A View to a Kill. However, it was his antagonist role as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV that really thrust him into the spotlight in 1985.

Known for his massive physique, Lundgren has been a staple in action films for decades. From Masters of the Universe to Red Scorpion, The Punisher to Universal Soldier, and Johnny Mnemonic to the Expendables franchise, he has an extensive list of credits. Watching him on screen, it’s hard to believe he wasn’t created in a lab specifically for action movies.

4. Carl Weathers

Carl Weathers
Despite assumptions, Carl Weathers was actually a former football player, not a boxer. He played for the Oakland Raiders for a few seasons before joining the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. Interestingly, during the off-seasons, he pursued a bachelor’s degree in drama from San Francisco State University.

In 1975, Weathers began his acting career in earnest, taking on various television roles and appearing in two Blaxploitation films alongside Pam Grier: Friday Foster and Bucktown.

Weathers gained recognition for his action-packed roles in the 1980s, particularly in the Rocky franchise, Death Hunt, Predator, and Action Jackson. While most of his recent work has been on television, his role in The Mandalorian demonstrates that he still possesses his action skills after all these years. Additionally, his portrayal of Combat Carl in Toy Story 4 reveals his willingness to playfully mock himself.

5. Terry Crews

Terry Crews
What Was His Sport:

If you took a quick look at Terry Crews, you’d probably guess that his sport of choice was football. It’s not a crazy assumption considering Crews spent the early 1990s playing in the NFL. He had short stints with the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, Washington Football Team, and Philadelphia Eagles. However, he eventually decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

When Did He Start Acting:

During the early years of his Hollywood career, Crews primarily took on comedic roles. Movies like Friday After Next, Malibu’s Most Wanted, White Chicks, and The Longest Yard showcased his excellent comic timing.

His Action Bonafides:

As the late 2000s rolled in, Crews made a transition to more action-oriented roles. Films like Get Smart, Terminator Salvation, Gamer, the Expendables franchise, and Deadpool 2 allowed him to showcase his skills in the action genre. While he may be best-known these days for his role in the ensemble cast of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, his action credits are certainly worth mentioning.

6. Dave Bautista

Dave Bautista
Dave Bautista’s first career was a wrestler, given his impressive muscles. After a 20-year-long wrestling career, he successfully transitioned into acting.

Bautista’s acting journey began with a small role in a 2006 episode of Smallville, where he played Aldar, an alien who fed on bone marrow. Quite an interesting start, to say the least.

Having a background in wrestling has proven beneficial for Bautista in action films. He has showcased his skills in some of the biggest action franchises like Riddick, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spectre, and Blade Runner 2049. With upcoming projects like Dune and Army of the Dead, it’s clear that Bautista is here to stay in the acting world.

7. Vinnie Jones

Vinnie Jones
Vinnie Jones, known for his soccer career, played almost 200 games in the English Premier League for clubs like Chelsea, Leeds United, Sheffield United, and Queens Park Rangers. He even won an FA Cup with Wimbledon in 1988 against Liverpool.

Jones’s acting journey began with roles in Guy Ritchie’s films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.

Throughout the years, Jones has been a part of various films, including action and comedy genres. His action films include Gone in 60 Seconds, Swordfish, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Condemned, and Escape Plan. Despite getting older, it’s unlikely that his action roles will wind down.

8. Jim Brown

Jim Brown
Jim Brown is widely regarded as one of the greatest NFL players in history. During his nine-season career with the Cleveland Browns, he achieved numerous accolades. He won the NFL championship, received Pro Bowl selection nine times, and made it to the All-Pro first team eight times. Brown also earned three Most Valuable Player awards and was named Rookie of the Year in 1957. It is safe to say that he was a remarkable player.

Interestingly, Brown ventured into acting even before his football career came to an end. In 1964, he had a minor role in a Western film called Rios Conchos. Although he didn’t have much to do in that film, it sparked his interest in acting. A few years later, he landed his first major role in the now-classic film, The Dirty Dozen.

Throughout the 1970s, Brown became known for his roles in Westerns and Blaxploitation films. He showcased his strong screen presence and imposing physical stature in movies like 100 Rifles, El Condor, Slaughter, and Three the Hard Way. While his career may have slowed down in the following decades, he did have a notable role in Tim Burton’s 1996 comedy, Mars Attacks!. It is important to remember that one of the greatest football players of all time also had a successful stint as a leading man in the film industry.

9. Burt Reynolds

Burt Reynolds
Burt Reynolds, like many future Hollywood stars, spent his youth playing football seriously. He received a football scholarship to Florida State University, aiming to pursue a professional career in the sport. However, injuries ultimately changed his plans.

Before achieving stardom in the 1970s, Reynolds established himself as a television actor throughout the late 1950s and the entire 1960s. He played both character roles and leading parts on various shows, building a solid acting career.

While Reynolds explored numerous genres throughout his extensive film and television journey, he became most famous for his roles in action films. Deliverance, White Lightning, Smokey and the Bandit, and Hooper showcased his effortless coolness and natural charm. With his iconic mustache, Reynolds portrayed a believable and captivating character, whether he was throwing a football, driving a car, shooting a gun, or simply having a good laugh. He truly shone as a star in the action genre.

10. Johnny Weissmuller

Johnny Weissmuller
Johnny Weissmuller was an exceptional athlete, having won five Olympic gold medals in swimming. His prowess in athletics paved the way for a successful transition to Hollywood. In 1932, he secured his first acting role in the film “Tarzan the Ape Man,” and it was through this iconic character that he truly became a household name.

For the next two decades, Weissmuller would astound audiences by starring in an impressive 12 Tarzan films. However, he eventually moved on from the role to embark on another thrilling adventure as Jungle Jim. With 13 films and a television series under his belt, Weissmuller’s portrayal of Jungle Jim became a significant highlight in his career. It is worth noting that he is also credited with popularizing the famous “Tarzan yell,” a contribution that will likely be remembered as his true legacy for years to come.

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