Alex Rodriguez gets a movie role: Who is the best athlete-turned-actor?

alex-rodriguezWhile many of his teammates and fellow baseball players will be crowding your television screen vying for at least a half-inning of playing time during Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game tonight, New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez has his sights set on something bigger: Hollywood. Variety reports that Rodriguez has signed on to make his film debut in Friends With Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Directed by Will Gluck, the film focuses on “two friends as they come out of disastrous relationships.” Rodriguez is in good company; the film also stars Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Emma Stone, and Andy Samberg.

Rodriguez has always come off as hungry for the spotlight, whether it was his shirtless sunbathing in Central Park or last year’s public relationship with Kate Hudson. As a Yankee fan, I was pleased to finally see him win a championship last fall, but cringe at the thought of more potential gossip column fodder. Plus, how will this affect the baseball season? According to Variety, “Screen gems will work around Rodriguez’s busy Yankees schedule by shooting his scenes on the players’ off days.” Last time I checked baseball players didn’t get many off days.

This will not be the first time a professional athlete tries his luck at acting. Boston Celtics’ Ray Allen starred in Spike Lee’s 1998 film He Got Game, giving what EW’s Owen Gleiberman described as “an unusually vivid acting debut for a professional athlete.” Who can forget Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as pilot Roger Murdock in Airplane!? Or Shaquille O’Neal in Kazaam?! Which athlete (if any) has made the most successful foray into acting?

If this movie thing doesn’t work out, there’s always the opportunity for making cameos on popular TV shows. Peyton Manning has gained a whole new fan base thanks to high-profile commercials for MasterCard and DirecTV. The Super Bowl champ has also hosted Saturday Night Live, just like Rodriguez’s teammate Derek Jeter (who’s got an upcoming cameo in The Other Guys). Kobe Bryant made Phil Dunphy nervous on Modern Family, and the list goes on…If the Lebron James story has taught us anything, it’s that the line between sports and entertainment is becoming increasingly blurred (L.A. Lakers’ Ron Artest already has an Oscar speech ready for goodness sakes!). Athletes are really just entertainers with bigger…shoes.

What do you think A-Rod’s chances are at film stardom? Do you think any of Rodriguez’s former/current flings — Madonna, Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz — gave him some acting lessons?


Comments (86 total) Add your comment
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  • Cameron Yarde Jnr

    Talking of The Other Guys, one of the people in it is an athlete turned actor. Dwayne “Artist Formerly Known As The Rock” Johnson has done quite well for himself.

    • marion

      Really, no mention of OJ Simpson?

      • Cameron Yarde Jnr

        After I posted that I thought of OJ. Was he ever a leading man though? Also Jim Brown deserves a mention.

    • Couchtime With Jill

      I agree. I’ve always kind of had a soft spot of The Rock’s movies.

    • laylagalise

      That’s who I first thought of. Well, him and the next guy.

      • mary q contrary

        Peyton Manning was terrific on Saturday Night Live. I’m a huge Colts fan, but he would still be the best, because he has real comic timing. Brett Favre was pretty good in There’s Something About Mary, if I remember correctly.

    • Celimene

      Definitely. The Rock is the first one who popped into my mind. The guy is legitimately talented.

    • steph

      I agree – Dwayne Johnson for sure.

    • Josie

      The Rock’s movies are my guilty pleasure.

    • avenger

      +1, The Rock!

  • Ceballos

    If you consider professional skateboarding a sport, then Jason Lee.

    Since I don’t, I’ll go with Carl “Baby, you’ve got yourself a stew” Weathers.

    • Madd

      “Now, are you going to be an actor, or are you going to be a doctor?”

    • laylagalise

      “Let me tell you a little story about acting. I was doing this Showtime movie, Hot Ice with Anne Archer, never once touched my per diem. I’d go to Craft Service, get some raw veggies, bacon, Cup-A-Soup… baby, I got a stew going”

  • JD

    Ya gotta go with Chuck Conners,
    hands down.

    • Jon

      Chuck Conners was my first thought.

  • LS

    I always enjoyed Fred Dryer on Hunter. Whatever happened to him?

  • Nathan

    I always enjoy Jim Brown, he plays basically the same role over and over again, but he’s pretty good at it.

  • Zach

    Serena Williams on Avatar…heh heh, kidding. Um, are there ANY good athletes-turned-actors? They make for the worst kind and take away parts from the more talented nobodies. So wrong and unfair. Though while we’re at it, how come David Beckham never got a role?

    • Zach

      That being said, Shaq in Kazaam? LOL

    • mscisluv

      Yes, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a good athlete-turned-actor. People may not like the kiddie fare he has leaned towards, but he is funny and always enjoyable.

      • Jennifer

        He’s done some good things that weren’t kid-friendly too, like “The Rundown”. The man can be damned funny.

    • nodnarb

      David Beckham has said repeatedly he has no interest in doing films. And also, have you heard his voice? He sounds like British Mickey Mouse.

      • Jennifer

        Yeah, I can barely stand to listen to him in interviews – sure wouldn’t want to sit through a whole movie of that voice.

  • Adam

    How about Terry Crews? He was a professional football player for a bit, and now, after popping up in a bunch of good films and having stolen some scenes, he’s starred on “Everybody Loves Chris” for several years and just recently launched the “Are We There Yet?” series.

  • Madd

    Uh…..Terry Bradshaw?

    • Kvivik

      Ummm…NOT a good actor!!!!

  • johhny depp

    go make your balls shrink with steriods you stupid yankee

    • Jane

      UGH! Get over it!

  • nodnarb

    Vinnie effin’ Jones!!

    • Todo

      Thank you! I love him. He is awesome in Snatch.

    • Jennifer

      Abso-fing-lutely!

  • Iduna

    Yes I think Dwayne Johnson has had the best career out of any athlete turned actor

    • Brett

      Not just yet. He’s got a ways to go before beating Jim Brown.

      • two cents

        Arnold Schwarzenegger- no one can beat his career. Oh, and not as well known (anymore) but how about the original tarzan- Johnny Weissmuller

      • kemp richardson

        A guy by the name of Marion Morrison played football for USC in 1927. He went on to have a pretty good acting career under another name–John Wayne.

  • mark in nyc

    Isaiah Mustafa the guy from the old spice commercials signed with the Seattle Seahawks.
    Also, what about Bob Uker?

  • plushpuppy

    O.J.?

  • Brett

    Bob Uecker (former MBL player)
    Rick Fox (former NBA player)
    Alex Karras (former NFL player)
    Ed Marinaro (former NFL player)
    Merlin Olsen (former NFL player)
    Vinnie Jones (former English footballer)
    Carl Weathers (former NFL player)
    Fred Williamson (former NFL player)
    Joe Namath (former NFL player)
    Andre the Giant (wrestler)
    Hulk Hogan (wrestler)
    Jesse Ventura (wrestler)

    • Brett

      Oh, and the NBA’s Ray Allen (Spike Lee’s “He Got Game”)

    • tia

      You forgot Arnold Schwarzenegger… The most successful athlete turned actor for sure, but I don’t know if he’s the most talented. Still, I had to give him a nod.

    • peggym

      My first thought as Alex Karras. Ed marinaro was great on Hill St Blues

    • Ames

      Never make a list Brett, b/c people will keep commenting on who you forgot. Such as Gary Stevens (jockey) who played George Woolfe in Seabiscuit.

  • Trixie

    Howie Long was super great in those Radio Shack commercials

    • Natalie

      Don’t forget “Broken Arrow” with John Travolta & Christian Slater.

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