celebrities The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors  

Ranker Film
11.9k votes 1.2k voters 13.7k views 35 items Embed

List Rules Vote up the athletes-turned-actors who have had the best acting careers

You probably didn’t even know that some of your favorite actors got their start in the sports world! In fact, several athletes found a second career in film and television, thanks to their talent on and off the field. These athletes who became actors prove that they have star power no matter what industry they’re in.

From football players and pro skateboarders to soccer stars and basketball legends, plenty of athletes turned actors are shaking off the dumb jock stereotype and proving that they’ve got true emotional depth. Or at least a knack for comedic timing. Some went on to star in their own TV shows and movies, other played spot-on impressions of themselves on screen.

Who is the most famous athlete turned actor? Sean Connery is definitely one of them. The actor best known for playing James Bond was such a good soccer player that he was offered a position with Manchester United. He ultimately declined, saying, “I realized that a top-class footballer could be over the hill by the age of 30, and I was already 23. I decided to become an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves."

Former professional skateboarder Jason Lee has starred in the hit TV show My Name is Earl. Carl Weathers appeared in the Rocky films and he also played a parody of himself in the series Arrested Development.

Are you surprised that there are so many actors who used to be athletes? Vote up the former sports stars who became the best athletic actors to ever grace the screen. Vote down the hacks who should have stuck to their first love.
list ordered by

1
508 129
Carl Weathers is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Carl Weathers Rocky, Predator, Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Professional football player, 1970-1974

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2
421 135
Sean Connery is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Sean Connery Goldfinger, The Untouchables, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Bodybuilder and footballer

3
377 119
Chuck Norris is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Chuck Norris The Expendables 2, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, The Delta Force

4
387 135
Kurt Russell is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Kurt Russell Forrest Gump, The Thing, The Fox and the Hound - Professional baseball player

5
412 155
Lou Ferrigno is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Lou Ferrigno The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk, Hulk - Professional bodybuilder, 1969-1994

6
344 154
Esther Williams is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Esther Williams That's Entertainment!, Till the Clouds Roll By, Bathing Beauty - Competitive swimmer

7
180 123
Jason Lee is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Jason Lee The Incredibles, Almost Famous, Dogma - Professional skateboarder

8
187 131
Bubba Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Bubba Smith Police Academy, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, Police Academy 3: Back in Training - Professional football player, 1967-1976

9
188 139
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Merlin Olsen The Undefeated, Mitchell, Juggler of Notre Dame - Professional football players, 1962-1976

10
164 118
André the Giant is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
André the Giant The Princess Bride, Conan the Destroyer, Micki & Maude - Professional wrestler, 1963-1992

11
181 167
Ed O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Ed O'Neill Wayne's World, Wreck-It Ralph, Little Giants

12
201 208
Bruce Lee is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Bruce Lee Enter the Dragon, Limitless, Fist of Fury

13
138 134
Fred Williamson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Fred Williamson From Dusk till Dawn, MASH, Starsky & Hutch - Professional football player, 1960-1967

14
125 118
Dolph Lundgren is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Dolph Lundgren Rocky IV, The Expendables, The Expendables 2

15
185 196
Arnold Schwarzenegger is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Terminator, Predator

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16
265 300
Dwayne Johnson is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Dwayne Johnson Fast & Furious 6, Fast Five, The Other Guys

17
140 141
Jesse Ventura is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Jesse Ventura Predator, Batman & Robin, The Running Man - Professional wrestler, 1975-1986

18
109 121
Tony Danza is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Tony Danza Crash, Don Jon, Cannonball Run II

19
104 144
Mike Tyson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Mike Tyson The Hangover, The Hangover Part II, Scary Movie 5

20
110 155
Steven Seagal is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Steven Seagal Machete, Above the Law, Exit Wounds

21
97 142
Michael Jordan is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Michael Jordan Space Jam, He Got Game, Looney Tunes: Back in Action

22
94 141
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Michael Strahan Magic Mike XXL, The NFL's Funniest Players, NFL Moment of Impact

23
89 135
Terry Bradshaw is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Terry Bradshaw Robots, The Cannonball Run, Failure to Launch

24
81 124
Bob Uecker is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Bob Uecker Major League, Major League II, Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco

25
90 139
Shaquille O'Neal is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Shaquille O'Neal Grown Ups 2, Jack and Jill, Scary Movie 4

26
80 128
Alex Karras is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Alex Karras Blazing Saddles, Porky's, Victor Victoria

27
83 135
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Howie Long Broken Arrow, 3000 Miles to Graceland, Dollar for the Dead

28
144 246
Stone Cold Steve Austin is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Stone Cold Steve Austin The Expendables, The Longest Yard, The Condemned

29
76 132
Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Jim Brown Mars Attacks!, Any Given Sunday, The Dirty Dozen

30
72 131
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Airplane!, Fletch, BASEketball

31
65 134
Ed Marinaro is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Ed Marinaro Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, Fingers, The Gong Show Movie

32
53 148
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Lawrence Taylor Any Given Sunday, Shaft, The Comebacks

33
49 141
Ray Allen is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Ray Allen He Got Game, Harvard Man

34
70 186
Caitlyn Jenner is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Caitlyn Jenner Jack and Jill, Can't Stop the Music, The Hungover Games

35
59 164
O. J. Simpson is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
O. J. Simpson The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, The Towering Inferno, The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear