Athletes Who Hit It Big in Hollywood

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Professional sports are one of the nation’s most popular forms of entertainment. Much like the movie industry, a charismatic personality can boost an athlete’s popularity. In a business where athletes can earn millions of dollars in endorsements each year — on top of their six- to seven-figure, or more, salaries — keeping a visible profile is highly desirable.

Some athletes who are especially comfortable living in the limelight try their hand at acting. Acting, of course, requires a different type of performance and skill set than sports. For this reason, many who attempt it find that working in cinema simply isn’t for them. Some, however, find great success in acting and, on occasion, develop an entire second career out of it.

24/7 Wall St. has identified the 30 professional athletes who have had the most success in Hollywood. Some are still best known for their athleticism, while others are remembered for their work in television and movies. All have demonstrated a great talent for entertaining.

Nearly one-third of the athletes on this list originally played professional football. NFL players such as Fred Williamson and Terry Crews have had success in translating their magnetism to movies. Their athletic stature has also worked well when portraying numerous memorable movie characters.

Professional wrestlers also are well represented, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Cena, and Hulk Hogan – among others – making the list. Wrestling combines athleticism and showmanship to create a unique form of entertainment that isn’t found anywhere else. Many of the sport’s top performers are perfectly suited for an art form that often requires those two talents.

To determine the athletes who hit it big in Hollywood, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed performers who had competed athletically at a professional level and starred in a feature film listed on The ranking is determined by the sum of the votes the athlete received for all the films for which he or she is credited as being in a top-billed role. Each athlete’s “most popular movie” is the film with the most IMDb votes that the person has a top-billed role in.