The Best Former Athletes Turned Actors

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.
Ranked by
  • Chuck Norris
    The Expendables 2, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, The Delta Force
  • Sean Connery
    Goldfinger, The Untouchables, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
    Bodybuilder and footballer
  • Kurt Russell
    Forrest Gump, The Thing, The Fox and the Hound
    Professional baseball player
  • Carl Weathers
    Rocky, Predator, Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    Professional football player, 1970-1974
  • Bruce Lee
    Enter the Dragon, Limitless, Fist of Fury
  • André the Giant
    The Princess Bride, Conan the Destroyer, Micki & Maude
    Professional wrestler, 1963-1992
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Terminator, Predator
  • Lou Ferrigno
    The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk, Hulk
    Professional bodybuilder, 1969-1994
  • Dwayne Johnson
    Fast & Furious 6, Fast Five, The Other Guys
  • Dolph Lundgren
    Rocky IV, The Expendables, The Expendables 2
  • Jason Lee
    The Incredibles, Almost Famous, Dogma
    Professional skateboarder
  • Ed O'Neill
    Wayne's World, Wreck-It Ralph, Little Giants
  • Esther Williams
    That's Entertainment!, Till the Clouds Roll By, Bathing Beauty
    Competitive swimmer
  • Bubba Smith
    Police Academy, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, Police Academy 3: Back in Training
    Professional football player, 1967-1976
  • Jim Brown
    Mars Attacks!, Any Given Sunday, The Dirty Dozen
  • Jesse Ventura
    Predator, Batman & Robin, The Running Man
    Professional wrestler, 1975-1986
  • Terry Bradshaw
    Robots, The Cannonball Run, Failure to Launch
  • Alex Karras
    Blazing Saddles, Porky's, Victor Victoria
  • Merlin Olsen
    The Undefeated, Mitchell, Juggler of Notre Dame
    Professional football players, 1962-1976
  • Howie Long
    Broken Arrow, 3000 Miles to Graceland, Dollar for the Dead
  • Shaquille O'Neal
    Grown Ups 2, Jack and Jill, Scary Movie 4
  • Fred Williamson
    From Dusk till Dawn, MASH, Starsky & Hutch
    Professional football player, 1960-1967
  • Steven Seagal
    Machete, Above the Law, Exit Wounds
  • Tony Danza
    Crash, Don Jon, Cannonball Run II
  • Michael Jordan
    Space Jam, He Got Game, Looney Tunes: Back in Action