For decades, athletes have been making cameos in TV shows and films, much to viewers’ delight. Some roles have been significant (hello, Mike Tyson in The Hangover) while others have been just small appearances, like LeBron James in that one episode of Entourage.
But some athletes have followed up illustrious sporting careers with significant acting roles on both the small and big screen, bringing impactful performances of a totally different kind than their time on the court, the field, or even the ring.
Here are 10 of the most interesting and successful sports stars who have each parlayed their celebrity status into an acting payday.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Johnson has enjoyed so much success in the acting biz that it’s sometimes easy to forget he became famous as an extremely popular professional wrestler. Scratch that: who can forget that signature raised eyebrow and “do you smell what The Rock is cooking” catchphrase? While he still works with the WWE from time to time, Johnson is a bonafide superstar. He most recently appeared in the latest film in the Fast and the Furious franchise Furious 7, has multiple other franchises in the works, and serves as star and executive producer of HBO’s Ballers.
This pivot was clearly a smart move – Johnson was ranked by Forbes as the highest-paid actor of 2016, raking in an impressive $64.5 million last year, and he shows no signs of slowing down.