Many an athlete has tried the transition from sports entertainment to cinematic entertainment and understandably their lack of experience has translated to some god-awful acting. However, it makes sense that wrestlers would make pretty good actors, especially considering that all of them put on a persona for the ring and have to sell the story, not to mention a lot of the moves are rehearsed and performed. While some apparently have no acting skills at all, others have done surprisingly well, check out some of the best wrestlers in movie roles, some you might not even remember.
Honorable Mention: Alex Karras – Blazing Saddles
Alex Karras comes in as a honorable mention not because his acting qualities were lacking but because he is better known for his NFL career than as a pro wrestler. While he had many roles in movies and TV, his best by far was that of Mongo in Mel Brooks’ best comedy Blazing Saddles.
8. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper – They Live
John Carpenter strayed from his usual leading man Kurt Russell to go for Russell’s wrestler look-alike “Rowdy” Roddy Piper for the 1988 satire, They Live. Lots of ’80s cheesy effects can be expected but Piper’s acting skills are actually pretty good. “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass.” Mission accomplished Rowdy.
7. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – The Condemned
Stone Cold has had a few acting credits to his name and while many seem to think he’s not a good actor, they’re wrong. The thing is he can pull of a comedy or just an outright a-s-kicking film and either way it is believable. The Condemned may have been a straight to video film but it really isn’t all that bad, and either is Austin. While he mostly plays himself- a big guy with a short temper who will not hesitate to beat you down — you believe him and find yourself invested in his story.
6. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Spider-Man
This one is kind of confusing because in Spider-Man, Savage plays Bone Saw McGraw. So basically he’s a wrestler acting but as a wrestler, so really not acting at all? Regardless, it’s one of the best scenes in Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man before the whole franchise went to crap, and Savage plays his part to perfection.
5. Hulk Hogan – Rocky III
Terry Gene Bollea a.k.a Hulk Hogan had one of the best personalities in wrestling, a personality that gained him easy access to other parts of the entertainment industry, especially film. While some of his movies were flops, some of his other appearances were epic, especially in 1982’s Rocky III. Again, he unfairly plays a wrestler but his cameo as Thunderlips is priceless in an all out epic franchise.
4. Andre “The Giant” Roussimoff – The Princess Bride
Of all the films the late, great Andre “The Giant” was a part of, his most well known role was as Fezzik in The Princess Bride. While his incredible size (7’4″) would make him a perfect villain, he also made the most lovable and warmest sidekick in the cult classic film.
3. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – Fast & Furious Franchise, The Rundown
With the most successful acting career of any wrestler to date, the line is beginning to get blurred for which job choice The Rock is known best for. His acting skills are most definitely up to par and he has put out a few good movies but he hit the jackpot with his role in the Fast & Furious franchise as Luke Hobbs. He also did extremely well in The Rundown which is apparently now called Welcome to the Jungle, especially as the brief interaction between The Rock and Arnold Schwarzenegger is regarded as a “passing of the torch” between the two action stars.
2. Jesse “The Body” Ventura – Predator
Jesse Ventura had a few acting roles to his name but it does not get any better than having him and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the same team of commandos being hunted by an alien. Unfortunately, his character was killed off pretty quick by the Predator but not before Ventura shot off some pretty iconic lines and put his real NAVY Seal training to use in the film.
1. Dave Bautista – Guardians of the Galaxy
The film as a whole was anticipated but the enormous success it achieved was surprising, success that was due in large part to the excellent casting. Dave Bautista is such a feared wrestler he didn’t need a stage name, and in Guardians of the Galaxy, he proved he was much more than a muscle-bound meathead. As Drax the Destroyer, Bautista delivers one heck of a convincing role envoking empathy as well as pulling off the comedy with his character’s inability to not take everything literally.