1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem tops the list for his remarkable turn in Airplane, which consists of him staunchly denying that he is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar until a little kid’s criticism forces him to his own defense. But he’s also up here for his excellent turn in one of the greatest martial-arts movies of all time, Game of Death, in which he takes on legendary actor/warrior Bruce Lee.
2. Arnold Schwarzenegger
A former and incredibly successful bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger places #2 on our list not for his acting chops, which, though passable, aren’t exactly Oscar-worthy. Instead, he charts because of his role in multiple emblematic and hugely profitable movies, including the Terminator series, Total Recall, and a bunch of others.
3. Ray Allen
Again, Allen’s starring role in He Got Game wasn’t exactly Oscar-worthy. But it was entirely capable. And the fact that he took on a leading-man character named Jesus Shuttleworth in a Spike Lee joint opposite Denzel Washington at the age of 23? That takes incredible guts.
4. Jim Brown
Jim Brown was in The Dirty Dozen. That should sum it up.
5. Brett Favre
Before we came to hate him, Brett Favre was awesome in There’s Something About Mary. How do you pronounce “Favre” again?
6. Vinnie Jones
Former footballer Vinnie Jones became a menacing dude in the hands of Guy Ritchie, who cast him in a bunch of his movies, including Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Out of those, he’s made a pretty impressive film career for himself, and he’s probably the most viable current actor on this list, along with Jason Lee.
7. Jason Lee
Speaking of which, little known fact: before he was Kevin Smith’s muse, Jason Lee used to be a professional skateboarder. Now he’s a pretty frequent TV actor, even though My Name is Earl and Memphis Beat are no more.
8. Andre the Giant
The larger-than-the-world Andre the Giant helped make the goofy and fun The Princess Bride into a cult classic. He made some other TV appearances as well, but that film stands as his best out-of-ring work by a large margin.
9. Carl Weathers
Carl Weathers is one of the few professional athletes who is probably better known for his acting than for his on-field accomplishments. As Apollo Creed in the Rocky series, Weathers created an iconic character of American film, and he also has a healthy and ongoing career in TV.
10. Dan Marino
In Ace Ventura: Nature Calls, Dan Marino was game to serve as an object of obsession and a weird piece of an even weirder movie. Kudos, Dan.
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