12 Times People Were Cast In Movies To Play Their Own, Very Specific Profession

List Rules
Vote up the non-actors who were the only true casting choice.

Part of being an actor is taking on all different kinds of characters with all different kinds of jobs. Tom Hanks didn't need to be a real astronaut to play one in Apollo 13. Daniel Craig didn't need to be a spy to play one in the James Bond movies. And Melissa McCarthy didn't need to be a cop to play one in The Heat. Taking on other personas is a major part of their job.

Nevertheless, there are certain occasions where people are cast in films specifically because of their professions. Maybe they possess some physical attribute that few people have, or it's because the director is aiming for a sense of realism that wouldn't quite be possible with professional actors. Whatever the reason, these occasions give people who are known for a particular job an opportunity to utilize their skills in a whole different area - one that can be witnessed by millions of people.

Which of the following people who were cast in movies to play their own specific profession was most perfectly chosen? Vote up your favorites. 


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    Bob Uecker: Play By Play Announcer ('Major League')

    Bob Uecker is one of the best-known and most beloved play-by-play announcers in the history of sports. In September 2021, he celebrated 50 years of calling baseball games. Noted for a knowledge of the sport that is matched by his enthusiasm level, Uecker became a broadcaster after years spent as a catcher for multiple teams, including the Milwaukee Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. As a member of that latter team, he won the World Series in 1964.

    If you're making a comedy about Major League Baseball, there's got to be an announcer. And if you're going to have an announcer, who better than Bob Uecker? That's what writer/director David S. Ward figured when he made 1989's Major League. The plot involves the new owner of the Cleveland Indians trying to sabotage the team so that she can move them to a different city. Uecker plays announcer Harry Doyle. Knowing that he was tops in his field, Ward told him to just ad lib his own dialogue. Uecker did, and it was comedy gold. 

  • Audiences who saw Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket couldn't stop talking about Gny. Sgt. Hartman, the tough-as-nails drill instructor who makes life miserable for his troops with his non-stop verbal abuse. The character's bluster was so genuine and so fearsome that it made an indelible impression. The fact that nobody had ever seen the man playing him before added to the power. R. Lee Ermey was, in fact, a real drill instructor hired by Kubrick to bring a sense of reality to the film.

    To convince the notoriously picky director that he was right for the part, Ermey videotaped an audition during which he screamed insults while someone off-camera threw tennis balls and oranges at his head. That showed he had the unflappable quality necessary for Hartman. To sweeten the deal, the actor ad-libbed a lot of his dialogue, drawing upon memories from his time in the service. The overall effect was hypnotic.

  • In Beverly Hills Cop, Axel Foley seems to enjoy antagonizing his boss, Inspector Todd. After all, he's one of those naturally hot-headed people who are fun to agitate, just to watch them go off. The scenes work not only because of the comedic panache Eddie Murphy brings to Foley, but also because the actor playing Todd is so believably intense.

    That actor is Gil Hill, the former head of the Detroit Police Department's homicide division. When director Martin Brest came to the city to scout locations, Hill agreed to show him around. Spending time together convinced the director that his tour guide might actually be a great addition to the film. He said, "Not only was [Hill] able to put out a lot of hot-tempered emotion but, in a subtle way, convey an underlying love, the kind a father would have for a son." Hill leapt at the chance to act opposite Eddie Murphy. He went on to appear in both Beverly Hills Cop sequels.

  • By nature, jockeys need to have a very specific physique. They have to be small and thin because the less they weigh, the faster the horse can move. For his movie Seabiscuit, director Gary Ross hired Tobey Maguire to play jockey "Red" Pollard. For fellow jockey George Wolff, he had the notion to cast Gary Stevens, one of the most successful riders in the sport. Stevens has won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes multiple times. 

    Stevens did not consider himself an actor, though, and he subsequently needed to be convinced to step in front of a camera. He initially told Ross that he wasn't interested. Stevens explained, "I was thinking, 'What, you want me to be some kind of friggin' extra?' I was racing seven horses that day and I had already had four seconds. So I just said, 'Listen pal, you don't have the money and I don't have the time.'"

    Ross persisted, and Stevens was eventually won over by the seriousness with which the director seemed to approach the subject matter.

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    Richard Dawson: Game Show Host ('The Running Man')

    Richard Dawson began his career as an actor, achieving fame as Cpl. Peter Newkirk on the hit sitcom Hogan's Heroes. He is most known, however, for being a game show host. From 1976 to 1985, he hosted Family Feud, where kissing the female contestants became his trademark. 

    When it came time to cast someone to play Damon Killian, the evil game show host who serves as the antagonist of The Running Man, Dawson was a natural choice. He understood the kind of charisma needed to make a convincing game show host, but he was also an experienced actor who could play the character's darker edges. In the end, he was an unexpected but effective bad guy.

  • Mikhail Baryshnikov is the most famous male ballet dancer in the world. That's just a simple fact. A former member of both the American Ballet Theater and the New York City Ballet, he quickly rose to fame thanks to his gracefulness and extraordinary talent. There really aren't a lot of ballet dancers that the average person could name, but almost everyone knows Baryshnikov. 

    In 1977, he got the chance to showcase his abilities in a new format. Director Herbert Ross was making The Turning Point, a drama about Deedee (Shirley MacLaine), a former dancer who gave up a promising career to start a family. When her daughter Emilia (Leslie Browne) joins a ballet company, she has to reconcile with that decision. There's a whole subplot about Emilia falling for - and being betrayed by - another dancer. That's Baryshnikov. 

    Taking on the role came with a little stress. He said that he felt "very shaky" on camera because, "as a dancer, I know what's good and what's bad. As an actor, I had to rely on others to tell me what was good and what wasn't."