The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors

Over 1.4K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors
Voting 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.
Most divisive: Michael Jordan
Ranked by
  • Chuck Norris
    321 votes
    The Expendables 2, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, The Delta Force
  • Sean Connery
    298 votes
    Goldfinger, The Untouchables, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
    Bodybuilder and footballer
  • Kurt Russell
    290 votes
    Forrest Gump, The Thing, The Fox and the Hound
    Professional baseball player
  • Carl Weathers
    254 votes
    Rocky, Predator, Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    Professional football player, 1970-1974
  • Bruce Lee
    278 votes
    Enter the Dragon, Limitless, Fist of Fury
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
    272 votes
    Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Terminator, Predator