10 Best Athlete Performances (In Non

When a good number of athletes have appeared in movies over the years, the movies are almost always about sports. In 2022 alone, several NBA players appeared in Adam Sandler’s basketball movie Hustle. The only notable time an athlete has appeared on a non-sports property recently was the Netflix series Murderville, starring Marshawn Lynch. That said, there are plenty of movies in the past that prove athletes can cross Hollywood well.

It seems that the best movies for athletes, based on the story, are comedies. There are athletes who have adapted so well to acting that they have developed a second career from it, with appearances in action films, dramas and even horror films. For every LeBron James appearance in a sports movie like Space Jam 2, there are athletes who prove they can hang in there even when there are no balls or hoops involved.

Kareem Abdul-Jabber – Airplane! (1980)

Stream on HBO Max

In 1980, parody movies were still entertaining, and few ever achieved the success of the Zucker Brothers airplane!. The comedy spoofed the disaster movie Airport and featured an all-star cast in the story of a plane that lost its pilots and needed someone to help it land.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was one of the NBA’s most popular and intimidating stars of the 1970s and 1980s. In Airplane!, he took on the role of co-pilot. What was funny was that he played a man named Roger Murdock, but everyone thought he was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The punchline came when the camera finally showed him wearing the Los Angeles Lakers game shorts.

André the Giant – The Princess Bride (1987)

Stream on Disney+

In the 1980s, professional wrestling was experiencing a boom period thanks to larger-than-life superstars like Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. Both men dabbled in the world of film and the best movie to come out of those endeavors was easily The Princess Bride.

There weren’t many roles for someone like André the Giant. When he assumed his role as Fezzik, he was reaching the point where he had difficulty walking and was nearing the end of his wrestling career. However, his endless charisma and charm made him an immediate fan favorite of the film.

Dave Bautista – Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Stream on HBO Max

Many wrestlers have moved to Hollywood to become actors. Names like Dwayne Johnson reign at the box office while John Cena has made a name for himself in more comedic and risque roles. However, Dave Bautista eclipsed both in the quality of his performances.

Bautista has taken on some expected athlete roles, like his place in a James Bond movie and as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy. However, it was when he took on a low-key role as a replicant in Blade Runner 2049 that he proved he had much more to offer than his physical appearance.

Vinnie Jones – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Available to rent on Apple TV and Prime Video

Before being the star of several direct-to-video action films, Vinnie Jones was a very successful football star. Jones has played for some of the biggest teams in the UK including Leeds United and Chelsea. When he retired, he wanted to try acting.

His first film made him a star, as he took on the role of Big Chris in Guy Ritchie’s feature debut Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in 1998. He stole the stage every time he appeared, a towering and still dangerous figure. figure. This is the model on which he has based his entire career.

Brett Favre – There’s Something About Mary (1998)

Stream on Freevee

Sometimes all an athlete has to do is show up at the right time and make the audience laugh to succeed. This has happened many times in real-life sports movies, like when Dan Marino appeared in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective as himself.

However, it also happened in the Farrelly Brothers comedy, There’s Something About Mary. The film starred Cameron Diaz as a woman with many suitors, but she then revealed at the end who she had chosen, and it was Brett Favre, playing himself. Favre showed all his charisma and left the audience laughing in a perfect appearance.

LeBron James – Trainwreck (2015)

Stream on AMC+

When people watched Trainwreck, one of the big takeaways was that John Cena was a very funny actor. It’s a movie that really pushed Hollywood to give him more diverse roles. However, Cena was not the athlete to steal this film.

While it launched Cena’s post-WWE career, it also showed just how funny LeBron James was. James played himself in the movie and he stole every scene he appeared in. When Trainwreck ended, fans wanted to see him in another movie. Unfortunately, Space Jam 2 did not enjoy the same success.

Terry Bradshaw – Failed to Launch (2006)

Stream on Paramount+

No one could have expected what would happen when NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw had a role in the comedy Failure to Launch. He starred with Kathy Bates as Matthew McConaughey’s parents, trying to pressure him into getting married.

Bradshaw always came off as funny and he showed off his comedic timing in this movie. Then he pulled his pants down and no one could ever look at him the same way again. He even has a reality show with his family now, and maybe that’s because of the new fans he’s picked up in that movie.

Jim Brown – The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Stream on Netflix

There was a time when Jim Brown was the best running back to ever walk a football field. The Cleveland Browns running back was the NFL’s all-time leading running back until Walter Payton broke his record. When he retired, Brown embarked on a career in Hollywood and has some great movies under his belt.

Brown proved his talent in only his second movie when he joined an all-star cast for The Dirty Dozen. Despite being one of the least experienced actors in film, Brown held on and it helped him transition into several action movies throughout his career.

Jason Lee – Almost Famous (2000)

Stream on Starz

Before playing Banky and Brodie for Kevin Smith and then becoming a TV star named Earl, Jason Lee was a professional skateboarder. Lee was a high-achieving athlete, one of the first professional skateboarders to secure sponsorship deals. Lee wanted to play and Kevin Smith gave him his break.

However, a few years later, Cameron Crowe allowed Lee to stretch his acting muscles, and he didn’t disappoint. He played rock and roll star Jeff Bebe in Almost Famous. It was Lee’s best performance to date and allowed him to play bigger roles in the future.

Alex Karras – Blazing Saddles (1974)

Stream on Hulu

Blazing Saddles remains one of the most beloved comedies in movie history. What’s impressive is that a movie that has the hilarious Gene Wilder in the lead role still featured an athlete-turned-less-experienced actor who stole the movie from him.

Alex Karras was an NFL star who played for the Detroit Lions for 12 seasons before retiring and becoming an actor. In Blazing Saddles, he played the role of henchman Mongo, sent to kill the Waco Kid. Karras was hilarious in the role and it led to his biggest role as TV dad George Papadopolis on Webster.

10 Best Athlete Performances (In Non-Sports Movies) | Pretty Reel