Bodybuilders-turned-actors are something of a conundrum. By and large, they’re terrible actors, even incoherent actors. But they make lasting impressions on movie lovers. Some rise to achieve iconic, legendary status. Maybe it’s because deep down we’re all awed by their superhuman physiques and the bodybuilder’s quest for perfection. Or maybe it’s cool to see an action-figure come to life. No matter the reason, the massive men on this list not only were on the juice, they had juice—with movie-goers the world over!
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger
There really couldn’t be another name to start this list, could there? A true legend in bodybuilding and movies, Ah-nuld is almost beyond reproach. Scandals seem to slide off of him, even as his monstrous muscles turn to mush in old age. In his prime, though—the period between “Pumping Iron” and “Terminator 2”—Arnold maintained a competition-level physique and choice box-office roles.
2. Lou Ferrigno
Big Louie’s movie career may not have been distinguished in the way that Arnold’s was—lots of B-movies—but his physique was (and still is) phenomenal, and his portrayal of “The Incredible Hulk” is still revered to this day. And Ferrigno is still tied to the movie business, acting as a fitness trainer to the starts. He remains a giant, both in and out of the business.
3. Franco Columbu
He was charming and simple in the classic bodybuilding documentary “Pumping Iron,” and he later went on to win the prestigious Mr. Olympia title in the sport. And guess what? He’s had a number of appearances in major motion pictures, including “Conan: The Barbarian” and “Terminator.” That’s on top of starring and producing low-budget action flicks. Though he’s short in height, his body is perfection on screen and he’s had plenty of screen time.
4. Carl Weathers
The man who would be Apollo Creed may have started out as a pro football player, but he took training to the next level in order to venture into movies. Carl carried out a frame that was thick with muscle, rivaling anyone whoever stepped out onto a bodybuilding stage. As for juicy movie roles, he did big business in the “Rocky” files, not to mention his portrayal of “Action Jackson” and a role in “Predator.”
5. Steve Reeves
Steve is the well-spring from which all bodybuilders/movie stars flow. He’s the O.G. in this game, and for good reason. People still hail Steve Reeve’s classic physique as the pinnacle of masculinity. He won multiple competitions. But even with all that acclaim, he’s probably best known for his epic portrayal of Hercules in the movies of the same name. Steve opened the door for bodybuilders to break into movies.
6. Bolo Yeung
The man is, quite simply, humongous. Scary big. Now, maybe his name isn’t as well-known as the others on this list, but how about the movies he’s starred in? Try “Enter the Dragon,” for one, and “Bloodsport” for another. It’s worth pointing out that Bolo was well into middle age when he played Chong-Li in “Bloodsport.” Look at him—he’s freakin’ huge! On the international front, Bolo did well, including playing a Reeves-esque role in “Chinese Hercules.”