Actress and former UFC fighter Gina Carano via Wonder AI

Let’s go through some professional athletes who decided to swap sports for scripts.

Sports arenas and movie sets may seem worlds apart, but there’s one thing they both require: an ability to perform. Some have not only commanded the attention of spectators on the field but also charmed audiences on the big screen. Here’s a look at ten athletes who tackled Hollywood with the same fervor as their athletic careers.

Dwayne Johnson via ESPN YouTube, screenshot

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Probably the biggest name on this list, Johnson had his beginnings not on the big screen but inside a wrestling ring. (And even before that, on the gridiron!) Capturing global attention as “The Rock” in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Johnson transitioned seamlessly into acting. Today, he stands as one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, headlining mega franchises like Fast & Furious and delighting audiences with films like Jumanji.

Terry Crews

Before becoming a comedy mainstay, Crews started his journey on the football field, showcasing his athleticism in the National Football League (NFL). But Crews found another calling after his NFL days. He has since made audiences worldwide laugh with his portrayal of Terry Jeffords in Brooklyn Nine-Nine and as Julius in Everybody Hates Chris.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnie’s muscles did more than just lift big pieces of metal. Before his iconic lines in The Terminator were ever uttered, he had already claimed the title of Mr. Olympia seven times. With roles not just in The Terminator but also in Predator, Schwarzenegger became an irreplaceable part of film lore.

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Jason Lee’s balance was initially tested on skateboards. As a professional skateboarder, the comedy great performed tricks and flips before making the switch to acting. He’s since been known for his comedic role in My Name Is Earl and has worked extensively with director Kevin Smith on various films, like the Gen X classic, Mallrats.

Bob Uecker

The baseball field is where Bob Uecker first grabbed attention. Before he decided to embrace the comedic side of Hollywood, Uecker played professional baseball. His unforgettable role in Major League films made sure he became a staple in Hollywood comedies too.

Ray Allen

People tend to forget that Ray Allen shot hoops before he shot scenes. A dominating force in the NBA, Allen gave an unforgettable performance alongside Denzel Washington in Spike Lee’s He Got Game, proving his talents weren’t just confined to the basketball court.

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Bubba Smith

Smith tackled both opponents on the field and roles on screen. A former NFL player, Smith is best remembered by movie fans for his rib-tickling role as Moses Hightower in the Police Academy series.

Carl Weathers

Carl Weathers is another star whose tackles on the NFL field translated to punches in the boxing ring of Hollywood. Famous for his role as Apollo Creed in the Rocky series, Weathers also ventured into the Star Wars universe with his appearance in The Mandalorian.

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Gina Carano

Carano’s MMA kicks laid the groundwork for her kicking ass in Hollywood. Her career transition saw her taking on challenging roles in movies like Haywire and later, she became part of the Star Wars legacy with The Mandalorian.

Rick Fox

Last but not least, Fox dribbled basketballs before dabbling in acting. As a three-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, Fox later showcased his acting chops in series like Oz and Greenleaf, showcasing that his talents weren’t just restricted to the basketball court.

Swapping jerseys for scripts might not be common, but as these ten athletes-turned-actors show, it’s possible to shine in both arenas. Their performances, both on the field and screen, have solidified their legacies in the annals of sports and cinema.

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