Professional sporting careers tend to be time-restricted and plenty of former athletes have made the transition to the big screen after stepping into retirement.
There have been plenty of cameos… good, bad and ugly over the years but we’ve picked out the five greatest sports stars to have transitioned into acting.
5) Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton was knighted in 2021 after establishing himself as one of the best ever to sit in a Formula One car and he continues to be a top contender as he seeks his eighth world championship.
The Briton signed a new contract with Mercedes that will keep him with the team until the end of the 2023 campaign and it doesn’t look like he is considering retirement just yet.
But he’s already ventured into movies and could potentially have a career ready and waiting when he does decide to step away from the sport.
He made a guest appearance in the film ‘Cars 2’, voicing an anthropomorphic version of himself and provided the voice for Hamilton, a voice command assistant used by Cruz Ramirez in ‘Cars 3’.
4) Michael Jordan
At the height of his fame, Jordan starred as himself in the 1996 live-action animated film ‘Space Jam’, in which he was drafted in by the Looney Tunes to help them win a basketball match against a group of aliens.
The six-time NBA champion didn’t have to step too far outside of his comfort zone to take up the leading role, although the film did receive mixed reviews.
Despite falling foul of some critics it went on to be a box office success, making $230 million worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing basketball film of all time.
A sequel was released in July 2021 with Lebron James taking starring in ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’.
3) Jason Statham
After looking at two sports stars that have dipped their toes into the world of acting, now we go into some that have carved out legitimate careers.
Statham falls firmly into that category and many forget that he actually started out as a diver, representing Great Britain at the 1990 Commonwealth Games.
He initially moved into modelling and spent time working on market stalls before getting his big break courtesy of Guy Ritchie in ‘Lock, Stoke and Two Smoking Barrels’.
Ritchie was clearly a fan as he offered up further roles in ‘Snatch’ and ‘Revolver’, while he’ll also have a part in ‘Five Eyes’ which is set for release in 2022.
Often cast as the antihero, Statham has also turned out in ‘The Transporter’, ‘The Italian Job’, ‘The Expendables’ and the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise to name a few.
2) Vinnie Jones
Jones was known as a hard man on the pitch and he was already putting that persona to good use before officially calling time on his footballing career.
The former midfielder got his first gig via the previously mentioned Ritchie in the 1998 hit ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’, just months before playing his final game for Queens Park Rangers.
A role in ‘Snatch’ as Bullet Tooth Tony followed in 2000 and he was lining up alongside Nicolas Cage and John Travolta not long after in ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ and ‘Swordfish’ respectively.
Jones’ first leading role came in 2001 in the sports comedy ‘Mean Machine’, while he was part of a star-studded cast in the ‘X-Men’ franchise when playing Juggernaut.
1) Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
The Rock already had a strong grounding in acting from his time in the WWE and his transition to movies was maybe inevitable.
However, the success he has achieved maybe wasn’t always guaranteed and he is one of the busiest actors on the planet.
His film debut came in 2001 with ‘The Mummy Returns’ and he went on to star in spin-off ‘The Scorpion King’.
Unlike Statham and Jones, Johnson has shown versatility throughout his acting career, although the majority of his roles have come in the action genre.
The 2005 comedy ‘Be Cool’ offered up a chance to show he wasn’t a one-trick pony and he went on to team up with Mark Wahlberg in ‘The Other Guys’ in 2010.
He voiced Maui in Disney hit ‘Moana’ and is set to appear in DC’s latest superhero film ‘Black Adam’ in 2022.