From The Rock to Mr. Bean, 10 athletes that went on to become famous actors

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.

OJ Simpson

O.J.: Made In America
O.J.: Made In America
O.J.: Made In America

These days, OJ Simpson’s legacy is more of a cautionary tale than anything close to a happy ending, but before his many notorious run-ins with the law, Simpson was both a legendary sports icon, and later, a beloved film star. Even before his official retirement from a highly successful football career that saw him earn titles like the fastest player to gain 1,000 rushing yards in a season, Simpson starting dabbling in acting. Early roles were in TV series like Roots (1977) and The Klansman (1974). On the big screen, Simpson is probably best remembered for his role in The Naked Gun trilogy films.

His fall from grace has been well documented, but back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, he was beginning what looked to be a successful acting career. In fact, just prior to the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, and the controversial trial that followed, Simpson had completed the pilot for an NBC TV movie called Frogmen that ended up never airing.

Chuck Norris

athletes became actors chuck norris 1

Trained in the martial art of Tang Soo Do while serving as an Air Policeman in the United States Air Force, Norris ran a chain of karate schools after being discharged in 1962. He continued to compete in tournaments, eventually becoming the first Westerner to be named an 8th Degree Black Belt Grand Master in Tae Kwon Do. But Norris also began crafting his acting chops alongside his martial arts ones. The role that really got him noticed was as Bruce Lee’s nemesis in 1972’s Way of the Dragon.

He went on to star in a number of films like An Eye for an Eye (1981) and Delta Force (1986), as well as all nine seasons of the popular (and laughably terrible) ‘90s CBS series Walker Texas Ranger. Most recently, Norris hit the big screen with Sylvester Stallone in The Expendables 2.

Movies & TV

'Terminator: Dark Fate' is the working title for the new Terminator movie

The most recent Terminator films didn't do so well, but now James Cameron has returned to reinvigorate the franchise. Here's everything we know about the cast, crew, and story of the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate movie.
Deals

Watch Kevin Durant’s ‘The Boardroom’ exclusively on ESPN Plus

ESPN Plus gives users access to a ton of sports content, and it's also the place for exclusive shows like Kevin Durant's 'The Boardroom.' If you’re looking to catch this all-new series, then now’s your chance to take advantage of the…
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (February 2019)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Did I really watch that? Here's how to delete your Netflix viewing history

Everybody has some skeletons in their streaming closet, but you don't have to live with them if you don't want to. Learning how to delete your Netflix viewing history is easy, and we're here to help.
Movies & TV

From Roma to Isle of Dogs: Here’s where to watch 2019’s Oscar nominees online

The 2019 Oscar field is a strong one, and if you missed some of the films in theaters, you may be in luck: Several of them are available on popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO.
Movies & TV

You should read these epic sci-fi novels before they become blockbuster films

You can get ahead of the next crop of science-fiction movies coming out of Hollywood by picking up the books that inspired them. We compiled a list of books you can add to your reading list now to get a glimpse of the future.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Home Theater

Here's how to turn off subtitles on Netflix, no matter the device

Subtitles are great if you want or need them, but they can be a major headache if you’ve somehow turned them on by accident and can’t figure out how to get rid of them. Don't worry, it's not as complicated as it seems.
Home Theater

Everything to know about Sling TV: Channels, pricing, and more

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Movies & TV

Oscar Effects

Every year, five films are nominated for an Academy Award in the “Visual Effects” category. Each of the projects nominated this year offer a unique, inside look at the amazing tricks filmmakers and their talented effects teams use to…
Movies & TV

Eye-popping Alita: Battle Angel delivers a beautifully hollow cyberpunk spectacle

With Alita: Battle Angel, Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron finally deliver a cyberpunk adventure that keeps the action high with groundbreaking visual effects, even when the story falls short.
Home Theater

ATSC 3.0: The next-gen TV update explained

ATSC 3.0 is the next major update to the broadcast standard we use today. Will this be the second coming of free, over-the-air TV? We're here to explain everything about the new standard.
Movies & TV

Ben Affleck explains why he is no longer working on The Batman

Warner Bros. Pictures' The Batman will come out in June 2021, but it needs a new star. Ben Affleck has confirmed he's hanging up the cape and cowl once and for all and explained why on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
1 of 3