Athletes are used to being in the spotlight, and we’re used to seeing them there, so only it follows that movies with athlete actors feel as natural as Kobe being badged MVP. Again. To drive the point home even further—those larger-than-life personas are already literally too tall to fit on your small screen, so why not give them some more head room and put them on the big screen? Granted, it can be a disaster. Case in point—anything starring Shaquille O’ Neal. On the other hand, it can also be memorable. Case in point. Anything starring Carl Weathers. So here’s our rundown of the five most memorable movies with athletes-turned-actors playing the central roles. Also, feel free to check out athletes in their proper arenas over at Buzzer Beat.
One of the best sports movies of all-time is famous for launching Sylvester Stone to stardom and creating a boxing icon in Rocky Balboa. Forgotten in all of it is the turn by former NFL star Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed. He provided a worthy foe for Rocky and Weathers went onto star in other successful films such as “Predator” and “Happy Gilmore.”
Who can forget Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s classic turn as co-pilot Roger Murdock? The young boy brought into the cockpit certainly will not. The Los Angeles Lakers legend broke the fourth wall and blistered criticisms of his defense from the kid’s father, by ordering him, “to tell your old man to drag Lanier and Walton up and down the court for 48 minutes!” Still cracks us up every time.
Space Jam (1996):
We admit it. This is basically a thinly disguised infomercial for Michael Jordan. Still, it had all of the classic Looney Tunes characters. Who doesn’t love seeing the antics of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck as they face off against alien goons bent on conquering Earth in a winner-take-all basketball game?
He Got Game (1998):
Ray Allen displayed some pretty good acting chops in this Spike Lee drama. Allen starred opposite Denzel Washington as Jesus Shuttleworth, the top high-school basketball prospect in the country. Washington is the paroled convict father to Shuttleworth who is trying to reconnect with his son and influence his college decision. Throw in cash exchanging hands and it sounds like a typical SEC recruiting trip.
The Princess Bride (1987):
Andre the Giant made a name for himself as an oversized pro-wrestler. If he had not died a tragic death a couple years after this movie, he definitely had the potential for a career in front of the camera. As Fezzik, the giant mercenary with a heart of gold, he had some of the best dialogue in a movie filled with memorable lines.