Sports stars in movies
This week sees the release of Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Haywire’, an out-and-out action film revolving around hard-hitting Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Gina Carano.
Impressed by the presence and toughness of Carano whilst watching the sport late one night, Soderbergh decided to make a film with her as the star. She’s not the first sports star to have a crack at acting and she won’t be the last so we’ve decided to look back over the years at the biggest names to try their hand at that little thing called showbusiness.
The Muscle Men
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the undisputed king of sportsmen turned movie stars. It takes a lot to go from body-builder to governor of California but Arnie did it and it’s one of the film industry’s most remarkable success stories. Despite minimal acting skills, Schwarzenegger has starred in dozens of films that have succeeded and continue to be mighty fine films almost entirely because of the Arnie-factor.
His charm and on-screen presence play their part but it’s the mix of endearingly hammy acting and that Austrian accent that keep people buying his films. Let’s not mention ‘Junior’ though.
Alongside Arnie in ‘Predator’ was Carl Weathers, who had success playing American football for the Oakland Raiders before starting a film career. He is most famous for playing Apollo Creed in the ‘Rocky’ franchise alongside Sylvester Stallone.
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More recently MMA fighter and former Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has made the jump to film. It was the role of B.A. Baracus in the surprisingly fun ‘A-Team’ film that brought him to people’s attention and for a role so universally believed to be owned by one man and one man only, he did a good job. Since then however, he’s stepped back into the cage to continue his fighting career.
Finally there’s the legend that is Bruce Lee. He was originally a kung-fu champion of course but had roles in films from a young age. He played Kato in the 1960s superhero TV series ‘The Green Hornet’ but he is most famous for his films ‘Fists of Fury’ and ‘Enter the Dragon’.
He is responsible for the worldwide appeal of martial arts movies and could have done so much more for the industry were it not for his untimely and mysterious death aged 32.
Not surprisingly, wrestlers are better suited to movies than their athletic counterparts in real sports, which is why