7. Andre The Giant
Admittedly, Andre the Giant makes our list for his acting performance in one film and one film only, but that film was so iconic and his performance so memorable and transcendent of the wrestling business that it’s more worthy of points in this fake game of “movie star cred” we’ve developed than the 100 or so appearances Kevin Nash and Steve Austin have accrued in this list before him.
That film is, of course, The Princess Bride.
Ask any Joe Bloggs on the street about famous wrestlers and Andre the Giant will likely make their list. Ask anyone under the age of 50, and they’ll likely be able to note that he appeared in The Princess Bride.
Playing a loveable (albeit hard to understand) giant, Andre won the hearts of everyone who saw the movie, gaining a reputation beyond that of his megastar wrestling persona and making him one of the most memorable wrestlers turned actors in history.
6. Jesse Ventura
Jesse “The Body” Ventura has lived quite the life. Superstar wrestler? Check. Hollywood actor? Check. Heck, he’s even been a US governor!
In film, “The Body” has a list of credits as long as your arm featuring appearances in highly respected and noteworthy action films – and some notoriously bad ones too. He was a random glorified extra in 1997’s Batman & Robin for example (that’s the bad) and he starred as one of the central characters in the 80s classic action/sci-fi Predator. In the latter, he was billed alongside Carl Weathers as one of Schwarzenegger’s supporting acts, which speaks for itself.
Post-politics, Ventura’s acting roles have somewhat dried up, but a recent appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles proves he’s still got some draw, and though most of his roles aside from the one in Predator are bit-parts at best, there’s something to be said for how this particular wrestler performed in the acting field, his being a legacy that far exceeds that of just wrestling nowadays.
Recommended for you: Live-Action Batman Movies Ranked
5. Hulk Hogan
The first true wrestling megastar Hulk Hogan was a pop culture icon, so it was only a matter of time before Hollywood came knocking.
Interestingly, Hulk’s most iconic silver screen role – as the villain in Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky 3 – came in 1982, when Hogan hadn’t even stepped foot in the WWF; but the peak of his acting fame came hand in hand with his “eat your vitamins and say your prayers” Hulkamania wrestling gimmick, with seemingly every other word of his totally in-character movie career being “brother!”
It’s not that Hogan was good at acting, because he wasn’t, but he was certainly memorable and, more importantly as far as Hollywood is concerned, marketable.
In the late 80s and 90s especially, Hogan filled spots in action movies usually reserved for the likes of Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Segal, headlining clueless, gun-heavy fare almost all of the time, but racking up “so bad they’re good” titles like No Holds Barred, Suburban Commando and Santa With Muscles along the way.
He has long been a breed unto his own and easily the biggest wrestler-turned-mainstream-actor until fairly recently, but is top of what is a pretty underwhelming bunch that improves rapidly from here on out…
Recommended for you: The Rocky Movies Ranked
4. Roddy Piper
Rowdy Roddy Piper may not have been as prolific as Hulk Hogan when it came to acting gigs, but he sure was better.
Piper has undoubtedly been best remembered for his starring role in the 1988 sci-fi/horror cult classic They Live, in which he performed the now iconic line, “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass – and I’m all out of bubblegum”.
It was a starring turn that made the most of his oozing charisma and proved that if any wrestler of the era could have made it as an actual actor, it would have been Piper.
Being directed by Halloween director John Carpenter was always going to help, but the fact that the WWE’s most beloved anti-hero made such an impression in a non-wrestling capacity was huge for wrestling and particularly Piper, who all-but guaranteed himself an avenue outside of wrestling upon his retirement.
Unfortunately for Hollywood, he never really took advantage of this in the prime of his wrestling career – instead focusing on being a wrestler and on-air personality for the WWF and WCW through the late 80s and 90s – but he did go on to make lots of B movies in the 90s and 2000s, as well as make memorable appearances in TV series such as ‘Zorro’ and ‘Highlander’, most recently recently appearing as a retired wrestler in ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’.
Piper was a cheeky chappy who always looked like he had a trick up his sleeve and a smile that could get him out of anything, which worked tremendously both in the ring and on the big screen.