20 Times Action Stars Did A Kids’ Movie - And Nailed It

Voting Rules

Vote up the action stars who nailed their roles in kids' films.

Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Chan, Willis - when you hear these names, what genre of movie do you think of? It's probably not a kids' movie, is it? Yet, each of these action stars (along with many more) have filmed a kids' flick or two.

There's always a risk with actors branching out - maybe it won't be received well, or they won't be believable enough. Even worse, what if they scare the kids? Regardless of any hesitations, some of these films went on to become instant classics, while others got lost in the action star's catalog of movies. 

Let us know what you think of these films by actors who don't traditionally make kids' films.

  • 1
    237 VOTES

    Sigourney Weaver ('Holes')

    Prior Work: One of the original female action stars is, of course, Sigourney Weaver. She was one of the first examples of a strong female protagonist being able to carry her own film in the Alien series. While she is regarded as an equally-successful dramatic actress, her action roots are never forgotten. 

    Kids' Movie: Holes (2003)

    Why It Worked: While Weaver had been in some family-friendly movies before - Ghostbusters I and II - Holes was truly a for-kids movie. 

    One of the reasons Holes has such a following even today is that while it is a children's film, it tackles some heavy issues. Holes follows a boy (Shia LaBeouf) who is sent to a detention center in the desert - where they are brutally required to dig holes under the hot sun. 

    Weaver plays the role of the hardened warden, who pushes the children to work well beyond what they should. Weaver successfully portrays the villain of the film who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. 

    237 votes
  • 2
    240 VOTES

    Arnold Schwarzenegger ('Kindergarten Cop')

    Prior Work: Before becoming one of the biggest action stars of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a world-famous bodybuilder. His build and charisma made him the perfect choice for starring in Conan the Barbarian, which set off a slew of wildly successful action films like The Terminator, Predator, and Total Recall

    Kids' Movie: Kindergarten Cop (1990)

    Why It Worked: Schwarzenegger's kids' movie is one of the most well-known (and successfully done) examples of a bonafide action star taking on a lighter role. 

    Kindergarten Cop is based on the premise that a cop must go undercover as an elementary school teacher to spy on a wrongdoer's ex-wife, who may have valuable information. Who better to play a desensitized cop than the Terminator himself? 

    But here's where Schwarzenegger's charisma comes into play once again. He's able to shed his hard exterior as he gets to know the children and teachers - and become a hero we truly root for at the end. 

    240 votes
  • 3
    230 VOTES

    Angelina Jolie ('Maleficent')

    Prior Work: Angelina Jolie is an Academy Award-winning dramatic actress, but she has some strong roots in the action genre. From playing the title character in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider to starring in Gone in 60 Seconds and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, she's no stranger to adrenaline-pumping roles. 

    Kids' Movie: Maleficent (2014)

    Why It Worked: When Disney wanted to do a live-action backstory film on Maleficent, the villain from Sleeping Beauty, they had to find someone who could be sympathetic, yet be able to send a chill down our spine. Jolie was the perfect fit to do both. 

    Jolie's performance was so well-received that it spurred a sequel to the film - Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

    230 votes
  • 4
    184 VOTES

    Antonio Banderas ('Spy Kids')

    Prior Work: Despite knowing very little English when coming to Hollywood in the '90s, Antonio Banderas became one of the heartthrobs, and action stars, of the decade. After getting his break, Banderas started showing up in all kinds of action movies - Desperado, Assassins, The Mask of Zorro and The 13th Warrior.

    Kids' Movie: Spy Kids (2001)

    Why It worked: If you ask a millennial their favorite movie growing up, Spy Kids will be a very popular response. Spy Kids was a massive hit (and sparked multiple sequels) because of the perfect combination of espionage and fight scenes paired with comedic breaks (and the ever-memorable Thumb Thumbs.)

    Banderas played the father of the Cortez kids, who grew up thinking their dad was pretty boring. However, it turns out Banderas and his wife (Carla Gugino) are retired spies who are snatched by an evil villain. Their two kids must use their parents' gadgets to get them home safely. 

    Banderas perfectly encapsulates the debonair spy - who, admittedly, is a little rusty after being out of the game for a decade. 

    184 votes
  • 5
    150 VOTES

    Dwayne Johnson ('The Game Plan')

    Prior Work: In the late ‘90s, Dwayne Johnson wasn’t well-known - “The Rock” was. Being a professional wrestler, The Rock was known for his muscles and fighting abilities (not to mention trash-talking skills). When he transitioned into film, his first few movies were action-focused, like The Scorpion King and Walking Tall

    Kids' Movie: The Game Plan (2007)

    Why It Worked: The Game Plan was Johnson's first shift into the kid's movie realm - a genre that he's since come back to several times (Get Smart, Race to Witch Mountain, Tooth Fairy, Jumanji). At the time, it may have surprised fans to see this big-time wrestler starring in a movie opposite a little girl - but the dynamic just worked. 

    The Game Plan follows a NFL star who discovers he has an 8-year-old daughter, and Johnson delivers the perfect balance of masculine jock who transitions into a caring father. 

    150 votes
  • 6
    130 VOTES

    Bruce Willis ('The Kid')

    Prior Work: By 2000, Bruce Willis had a multitude of fast-paced thrillers under his belt: three Die Hard movies, The Fifth Element, Armageddon. Unbreakable was set to come out in 2000, and he was sitting pretty as one of the biggest action stars around.

    Kids' Movie: The Kid (2000)

    Why It Worked: At first, the main character in The Kid, Russ, is pretty unlikeable. He's a career-driven image consultant who isn't afraid to tell a stranger that their hair is too big or their foundation is too dark. Willis nails this jerk-like behavior right off the bat. 

    However, just before his 40th birthday, Russ is surprised by a magical visitor - an 8-year-old version of himself. Even though we've seen this plot done before, what really makes this film land is the great dynamic between Willis and his younger self (played by Spencer Breslin). 

    130 votes