We're used to seeing athletes in commercials, guest spots on TV series, or even playing themselves in movie or two, but most of them go right back to what they are good at: being athletes. But there is another group of athlete-actors who have made acting into a full time career and have turned in memorable performances and even created some beloved characters. This is a list of some of the best of those performances by actors that used to be professional athletes. (Here's a complete list of athlete-turned-actors.)With so many high octane, wizz-bang-effect-laden movies and series out there, it is no wonder that Hollywood comes a knockin' on the doors of prominent athletes who have the skills and charisma to play starring and supporting roles in some of the biggest properties out there. Many use their athletic prowess or physical appearance to aid them in their roles, while others were selected solely based on their existing fame; regardless, the actors who were athletes on this list have done something worth mentioning and certainly worth watching.
List this one under athlete turned actor, turned politician, turned actor again. Arnold "The Governator" Schwarzenegger gained fame in the 1960's as one of the most influential bodybuilders of the time before transitioning into film.
After some so-so, albeit well known, performances in movies like Conan the Barbarian, Schwarzenegger was cast in the role that defined his career as the title character in James Cameron's breakout hit The Terminator. His buff physique made him the perfect choice to play an (almost) unstoppable robot sent from the future to murder a young woman.Schwarzenegger left the public life for... eh... public life as the two-term governor of California. However, he brought new meaning to his most famous line "I'll be back," when he returned to acting in movies, including Sabatoge and The Expendables franchise.14032Was this a great performance?
"Fear of spiders is arachnophobia, fear of tight spaces is claustrophobia, fear of Chuck Norris is called logic." -Chuck Norris Facts
Thanks to his fists of fury and roundhouse kicks of death, the great, bearded Chuck Norris made a name for himself by becoming the Professional Middleweight Karate champion in 1968 and holding the title for six consecutive years.
In the late 1960's, Norris began his transition into acting highlighted by films such as Return of the Dragon (opposite Bruce Lee), but is probably best known for the not-at-all cheesy TV series "Walker, Texas Ranger" where he got to put his martial arts skills to good use for 10 seasons between 1993 and 2001.Did you know that Chuck Norris counted to infinity – twice? It's a fact.10934Was this a great performance?
World-famed martial artist Bruce Lee came to acting early through his father's career as a famous Cantonese opera star. By the age of 18, he had already appeared in 20 films, but decided to quit acting in favor of martial arts in the early 1960's.In 1966, Lee decided to give acting another try and landed the role of Kato in the TV series "The Green Hornet." In a time when TV action consisted largely of a WHIZZ, BANG, or POW graphics instead of any real action (fans of Adam West's "Batman" know what I'm talking about) it must have been nice to see a real martial arts pro on the small screen.11539Was this a great performance?
- Photo: FoxAfter a brief stint in the NFL and several years on a Canadian football team (there's football in Canada? What a world!), Carl Weathers decided it was time for a career change, and luckily for the world, he gave acting a try. Until 2004, Weathers was probably best known for the Rocky film franchise, Predator, Action Jackson and the "In the Heat of the Night" series. However, a little show called "Arrested Development" introduced him to a entirely different audience and a new generation. Playing an incredibly shrewd (read: hilariously slimey) and frugal version of himself, Weathers was one of the funniest parts of an already side-stitching series. And what are his feelings on ham? Does he like it? No... he loves it.10230Was this a great performance?