In honor of the Academy Awards last night, and Leonardo DiCaprio finally winning himself an Oscar, I figured it was only right to take a look at some of the athletes that transitioned to the acting world and actually succeeded (no, not you Brett Favre). Not many have made a smooth trip over to Hollywood from their playing days, but some did succeed in the big time in their respective films. Here’s a look at the six best athlete-actors in sports history.
6. LeBron James
As much as people love to hate him, LeBron James is a funny guy. He proved that in his first acting job in a supporting role in the 2015 comedy “Trainwreck” alongside Bill Hader and Amy Schumer, and actually was the only part I wanted to see the movie. He has long been rumored to become the leading role in “Space Jam 2”, which I would love to see, and the future truly looks bright for James’ acting career.
5. Tom Brady
He hasn’t had any huge roles in any movies, but Tom Brady has made the most of his brief time in films over his NFL career. Most recently making cameos in “Ted 2” and “Entourage” as himself, Brady has done a nice job for himself in the comedy world ever since his film debut in Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear’s “Stuck on You” way back in 2003. Brady has also hosted Saturday Night Live, and has made appearances in a couple of sketches for “Funny or Die”, where showed off his acting chops in some bigger roles.
4. Gina Carano
She may not be the most well-known athlete, but Gina Carano has been very successful in transitioning from her MMA career to her acting career. Most recently, she played one of the villains in the highly successful “Deadpool” movie, and before that appeared in “Haywire” five years ago in the main role. Carano has already achieved success in the film world, and only time will tell how far she can make it in the field.
3. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Some people may not consider him an “athlete” due to him coming from professional wrestling, but I still view Dwayne Johnson as an athlete who has made it big in the movie world. Johnson has starred in some of the highly successful “Fast and Furious” movies, and has also recently appeared in movies like “San Andreas”, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” and “Pain and Gain”. Let’s just forget all about “The Game Plan” or “The Tooth Fairy”, and pretend those didn’t happen. Other than those last two, Johnson has made a nice transition to Hollywood, and is one of the best to ever do it from an athlete standpoint.
2. Michael Jordan
“Space Jam” has a special place in my heart, as I watched it millions of times as a kid back when VHS players were still a thing. Michael Jordan plays himself in the movie, alongside some of the greatest actors of all-time (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Tweety, etc.), and he truly created an instant classic in this animated basketball film. His battle with the Monstars at the end of the movie is breath-taking, and the whole movie was one I will never forget. I truly hope they can recreate it sometime soon with LeBron James, and I hope Jordan makes a cameo at some point in the film.
1. Ray Allen
This one was a no-brainer, as Ray Allen is truly the only one to transition perfectly from athletics to acting and do it all as the lead role in a film. Allen starred in the great 1998 film “He Got Game” as Jesus Shuttlesworth, the country’s top high school basketball prospect and the son of a convict played by the great Denzel Washington. Allen had never acted before, and he trained with an acting coach for just eight weeks before filming the movie, but you really couldn’t tell by how the final product turned out. Allen did an awesome job in the film, and is easily the best athlete-actor in sports history.