Professional athletes know going into their chosen sport that they won’t be able to make a career of it for a long period of time. Eventually, time will catch up with them and they’ll have to retire. Some athletes go on to coach new up and coming athletes in their former sport. Others go on to become announcers or even sports radio show talk hosts.. While others chose to walk away completely.
Then there are those who decide to capitalize on their notoriety in another way, by entering the field of acting. For some athletes, this may seem like a lark that they don’t take too seriously, for others they become so known for their acting that many forget that they got their start as professional athletes. These eight athletes turned actors could definitely fall into that category.
Athlete Turned Actor #8: Terry Bradshaw
For many, Bradshaw is still tied to the NFL for his successful career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has also become known for being quite an outspoken sports analyst not just for the NBA but for NASCAR as well. But what many may not know is Bradshaw also has a long reaching acting career. He appeared in films such as Cannon Ball Run and Hooper. He would also appear in TV programs such as Everybody Loves Raymond and Married with Children.
Athlete Turned Actor #7: Howie Long
Perhaps the former NFL defensive lineman didn’t have the successful acting career but what put him squarely on this list is his determination to remain relevant by reinventing himself. After he retired from the NFL after a successful career with the Oakland Raider Howie Long did try his hand at acting with some marginal success. He made appearances in films such as 3000 Miles to Graceland and Broken Arrow. He also made cameo appearances in TV programs, and went onto do commercials as well. He than would go onto become an author penning the well-known book Football for Dummies. He then became a football analyst for Fox Sports.
Athlete Turned Actor #6: Rick Fox
To look at Rick Fox today it might be hard to recognize him at the man who once played for the LA Lakers in the NBA back ’97. In this time, Fox would find himself stumbling into yet another career, that of an actor. He would appear in films that appropriately had him playing a basketball player including Eddie and He Got Game. However, in 1997 he also landed another ground breaking role in the gritty HBO series OZ. He would appear in about a dozen episodes of the show in 1998 and 2003 all the while continuing his NBA career. After he retired from the NBA in 2004 he continued acting, appearing in some films but mostly in TV programs. He would land parts in Meet The Browns, The Big Bang Theory, and The Game.
Athlete Turned Actor #5: Chuck Connors
Yes, the man known to classic TV fans as television’s The Rifleman started out not just as a professional baseball player but basketball player as well. In fact, Connors is just one of 12 athletes in America who has belong to two professional sports leagues in the course of his athletic career. But as fate would have it Connors was playing baseball in California and caught the eye of a casting agent with MGM Studios. He was cast in his first film Pat and Mike which starred Audrey Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. He than appeared in more films and than made the transition over to television where he ultimately landed the role he would become known for as Lucas McCain on the western The Rifleman.
Athlete Turned Actor #4: Chuck Norris
It may come as no surprise that the action star began his career as a Martial arts champion. His transition over to acting began when he was cast in the movie The wrecking crew. But his defining moment when when he was cast to take on the Martial arts legend turned actor Bruce Lee in the film Way of the Dragon. After Lee’s untimely death, Norris sort of became heir apparent to the action films that featured martial arts. He would take acting classes to further develop his craft but was more known for the great action scenes that came in films such as An Eye for an Eye, Lone Wolfe McQuade, and the Missing in Action films. After his box office appeal seem to fade along with that form of action movies, Norris made a successful crossover to television. He would star in the long running CBS series Walker Texas Ranger. Now he has gone back to his roots teaching Martial arts along with promoting fitness equipment.
Athlete Turned Actor #3: Terry Crews
For a man who started out his career in the NFL, Terry Crews would go on to be known for something else all together in television, the Old Spice Man. Crews would appear in a series of commercials that were made to endorse how manly Old Spice was while promoting his athletic demeanor. These commercials along with other endorsements led to Crews beginning an acting career. He’d star in a series for BET call The Family Crews based on his own family life. But perhaps the role that launched him as an actor was when he was cast as the father on the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris. He would also land roles in films such as Training Day, Friday After Next, and Battle Dome.
Athlete Turned Actor #2: Jason Statham
Like Chuck Connors before him, Jason Statham made such a name for himself as an actor that it’s hard to remember he got his start in professional sports. Statham competed as a diver for Britain’s Diving Squad for twelve years. However, he was thrust into a career as an actor when he was cast in the film Lock, Stock and Two Barrels in 1998. Known for doing his own stunts due to his athletic ability Statham found steady film work over the years in action films. He’d also get some work in dramatic films as well including the independent film London that came out in 2006.
Athlete Turned Actor #1: Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson
Coming from a family of Wrestlers with a grandfather and father who also competed was it any wonder Dwayne the Rock Johnson would also enter the ring someday. Johnson would become a champion wrestler in the WWE. What many may not, Johnson also played collegiate football for the University of Miami when he attended school there. So, how does a guy whose legacy was in the wrestling arena end up an action star in demand? With Johnson, it happened gradually he went from being one of the most popular wrestlers in the field to landing bit parts on TV sitcoms, including Cory in the House for the Disney channel. One of his first movie roles was in a Disney film called The Game Plan where he played football player. But true to his wrestling and athletic roots he has found more success as an action star. He has now made a name for himself starring in the Fast and Furious films that have become a franchise all their own. The list of movies he starred in are incredible and that’s why he’s one of the highest grossing actors in Hollywood today.
So, there it is. A list of some athletes who managed to make the transition to stardom. Yes, we could probably name a lot more no doubt that would spring to mind. Some who had success in the transition as those above, others who would no doubt like to forget even trying. Yes, being an athlete can be a spring board to an acting career because the fame is already there. But having the determination to to succeed along with the talent also plays a significant part in whether an athlete will be successful in the transition.