Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Steve Austin in a scene from his new film Recoil. Photo Courtesy Anchor Bay Entertainment
Steve Austin in a scene from his new film Recoil. Photo Courtesy Anchor Bay Entertainment

Top 10: wrestlers-turned-movie stars

James Luxford runs down the best grapplers to have tried their luck in Hollywood.

Steve Austin is out for revenge in the thriller Recoil, expected to be released in the UAE soon, and the former wrestling star is the latest in a long line of popular professional wrestlers who have taken to acting. The theatrical, muscle-bound world of "sports entertainment" seems a logical breeding ground for movie stardom, but few have managed to make that leap successfully. So which stars have survived?

10. David Bautista

A six-time world champion during his eight-year career with WWE (formerly WWF), Bautista retired in 2010 in an attempt to crack Hollywood. At over 6ft 6in, most of his acting roles so far have been action-focused, low-budget movies, such as The Scorpion King 3 and House of the Rising Sun. A career boost is imminent, however, as he is due to star in the Quentin Tarantino-produced The Man with the Iron Fists as well as Vin Diesel's Riddick.

9. Kevin Nash

A legend in both WWE and the defunct WCW, Nash's movie credits have been less illustrious. Highlights include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, and the 2004 flop The Punisher. This year, however, he played Tom Cruise's bodyguard in the rock musical Rock of Ages, and the exotic dancer Tarzan in the recently released Magic Mike.

8. André the Giant

Although his place in history is assured thanks to his epic WrestleMania bouts the French behemoth André the Giant only had a couple of memorable movie performances - as Arnold Schwarzenegger's foe in Conan the Destroyer and, most notably, as the lovable Fezzik in The Princess Bride.

7. Tyler Mane

The Canadian actor Mane's time in pro-wrestling was comparatively short (a brief tenure in WCW), however his film career has been much more impressive, playing Ajax in Troy opposite Brad Pitt; Sabretooth in the first X-Men; and, of course, the fearsome Michael Myers in Rob Zombie's Halloween remakes.

6. Hulk Hogan

Arguably the most famous wrestler ever, Hogan is a star of the 1980s and his name is synonymous with the industry. The inevitable film career brought mixed fortunes: a well-received cameo in Rocky III led to two starring roles in the 1990s comedies Suburban Commando and Mr Nanny, neither of which were loved by audiences or critics.

5. John Cena

Still wrestling in the WWE and its biggest star, Cena has made modest successes out of his WWE-produced starring roles in The Marine and 12 Rounds, and although his acting prowess has yet to be truly tested, there's no denying the current popularity of the 113kg Massachusetts native on the big screen.

4. Roddy Piper

One of the greatest villains in wrestling, his place at number four on this list is, ironically, thanks to playing a hero in John Carpenter's sci-fi They Live. Still considered a cult classic by film fans, Piper played a man who discovers aliens have taken over the Earth by assuming human form. The film was a hit at the box office and continues to be popular on DVD over 20 years later.

3. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin

Voted the most popular WWE superstar ever by wrestling fans, Austin is a four-time WWE champion and Hall of Fame inductee. Since leaving the company, he has played the lead in a string of low-budget but popular action movies, such as Condemned. He also appeared in Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables and has a comedy role in the forthcoming Adam Sandler film Grown Ups 2.

2. Jesse Ventura

A wrestler from the 1970s and 1980s, Ventura is almost as well-known for his movie work. He stole the show both as the outspoken Blaine in 1987's Predator, and in the same year in the sci-fi movie The Running Man, playing the antagonist Captain Freedom. He appeared in small roles in Demolition Man and Batman and Robin. By the late 1990s, he had followed Arnold Schwarzenegger into politics, becoming the governor of Minnesota.

1. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

No one on this list quite comes close to the success of the man formerly known as "The Rock". Still considered one of WWE's greats, he is the one man on this list to truly make the transition to "movie star". He made his screen debut in The Mummy Returns and highlights include the comedy Get Smart; the family adventure tale Race to Witch Mountain; and Fast Five co-starring Vin Diesel. With two blockbusters due out next year, he looks to add to his impressive tally of six US box office number ones.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Hajer Almosleh, the winner of the last year's short story competition, at her home in Dubai. Duncan Chard for the National

Get involved with The National’s short-story competition

Writers have two weeks to craft a winning submission, under the title and theme "The Turning Point".

 It is believed that the desert-like planet of Tatooine is being recreated for Star Wars: Episode VII. Could that be where filming in the UAE comes in? Courtesy Lucasfilms

Could the force be with us? The search for Star Wars truth

On the hunt for the Star Wars: Episode VII set, which a growing number of people are sure is in Abu Dhabi, but no one can seem to find.

 With an estimated 18,000 comic and film fans having already paid a visit to this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con, organisers are hopeful they will have surpassed last year total, of 21,000, by its close. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai

Dubai's World Trade Center was awash with people visiting this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con. Here's some of our best pictures.

 Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, presents Quincy Jones with the Abu Dhabi Festival Award as the Admaf founder Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo applauds. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Festival.

A candid talk with Quincy Jones about the UAE, Lil Wayne and the Abu Dhabi Festival award

The Abu Dhabi Festival honoree Quincy Jones discusses his legendary career as a music producer, the return of Dubai Music Week and why he can’t handle the rapper Lil Wayne.

 Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge arrive at Wellington Military Terminal on an RNZAF 757 from Sydney on April 7, 2014 in Wellington, New Zealand. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

In pictures: Will and Kate visit Australia and New Zealand

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge are on a tour Down Under for three weeks.

 A protester gives a victory sign during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo in November 2011. Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Street life: humanity’s future depends on ability to negotiate and sustain public space

Negotiating our ever more crowded cities and maintaining vibrant public spaces are among the major challenges facing humanity in the coming decades.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National