Special Report

Famous Athletes Who Tried Acting

Becoming a professional athlete means being at the top of your game and that’s a feat in itself. A select few have taken their performing skills even further, trying their talents on the silver screen. 

To compile a list of athletes who have appeared in movies, 24/7 Tempo consulted a section on the subject on IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon.

The list includes a number of famous basketball and football players – and one infamous one – though curiously nobody from the world of baseball. Several other major sports are represented however. In some cases, the athletes have portrayed themselves on screen. In others, they’ve had brief blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos.

Some of the sports figures here, however, have seriously pursued their acting careers, like former NBA star Rick Fox and footballers Carl Weathers, Bubba Smith, Alex Karras, and Brian Bosworth.

Some movies featuring sports figures become major hits. Carl Weathers, for instance, was memorable as Apollo Creed, the title character’s main rival (and later friend) in the “Rocky” films. And the iconic basketball player Michael Jordan shone in “Space Jam.” Grossing over $250 million worldwide, it became the most successful basketball film of all time and the tenth-highest-grossing film of 1996. (These are the 100 top-grossing movies of all time.) 

Click here to see 25 athletes who’ve played roles in movies

When you stop to think about it, transitioning from the playing field or court to a soundstage probably isn’t all that difficult, at least for some athletes. They’re used to giving their all in front of large audiences, and at last theoretically know how to take direction. Turning to the movie or TV business is a good way for these often beloved public figures to stay in the public eye. (A number of musicians have tried their hand at acting, too. Here are 25 pop music stars who’ve played dramatic roles in movies.)

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