Athletes who became movie stars

Here’s a look at some big screen actors and movie stars, who had very successful previous careers as professional athletes.

Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne “the Rock ” Johnson came with some serious sports heritage before becoming a movie star.  Most know the Rock as a movie star and WWE superstar, but before all this Johnson was a football star, playing defensive tackle at the University of Miami and won a national championship on the 1991 team.

After college, The Rock signed with the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders. He played with the practice squad but was later cut, leaving football altogether. He’s now and major movie star becoming one of the richest athletes in the world in the process.

The 10 greatest sports movies

André the Giant

Famed pro wrestler André René Roussimoff, better known as André the Giant, standing at 7’4” and weighing over 500lbs, was literally a giant!  WWE star André was a villain over much of his dominant career in the ring, his sheer size and popularity led to stardom in the WWE which naturally led to roles on the big screen.

Fans know him best for one role in particular, as Fezzik in the smash hit, The Princess Bride,  it was a performance that broadened his appeal. Today, the film is among the most cherished of the 1980s.  He also fought Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Destroyer.

Sadly Roussimoff died in his sleep of congestive heart failure on the night of January 27, 1993, in a Paris hotel room.

Carl Weathers

Carl Weathers had some classic tough guy roles like Apollo Creed in the Rocky films, and in the action movie Predator.  He alway played a part in Happy Gilmore and more recently in The Mandalorian, part of the Star Wars franchise.

He’d convincingly played a boxer in the Rocky films, but Weathers was a football player in his athlete life.  A standout in college, he went on to play for the Oakland Raiders in 1970 and 1971 as a linebacker. He then played in the Canadian Football League for three seasons.

Jason Statham

British actor Jason Statham is a staple in early and brilliant Guy Richie movies like Lock Stock and Snatch, he then went became a global star in the Fast & Furious franchise. But his fighting skills and gravely voice are not his original skills.

In his twenties, Statham was a diver!  Yes, he was a longtime member of Britain’s National Swimming Squad. In 1990, he competed in the Commonwealth Games, then at the 1992 World Championships, he placed 12th.

His sporting discipline kept him out of trouble in his youth, he says.

Dave Bautista

A very prolific actor, Bautista has featured in Riddick, the James Bond film Spectre, and Blade Runner 2049 as well as many others.  But his role as Draz in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers has made in a superstar.

Before the big screen he was a different type of actor!  His athlete career started in wrestling  where he became a 6 time WWE world champion. He holds the record for the longest reign as champion at 282 days.

Bautista is also a the Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt and in 2012 won a professional MMA fight!


Some other notable mentions are Mark Haron, Burt Reynolds who were very promising college football players.

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