When it comes to athletes trying to act, a lot of them fail and the public says, "It's OK. They're athletes. " Some break through and are able to shine on either the big screen or the television. Here's 10 of them that were able to make the best transition - and although he was somewhat funny in the Naked Gun movies, I'm not including O.J. Simpson.
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Before he was the Terminator or Conan the Barbarian, he was a bodybuilder. Some may not think that's a sport, but it takes many hours of dedicated training to reach the levels that Ahnuld did (though some say he got help from a syringe). If you watch the movies, he moves with an athletes' grace - in my mind he deserves to be on the list.
2. The Rock
There are some who may scoff at Dwayne Johnson's placement on the list, saying that professional wrestling is not a sport. It is in the sense that the wrestlers often have to do very difficult and acrobatic acts in the ring. He also played college football at Miami, which does NOT take slouches. While he's had some lesser fare in the past few years, he's making an action comeback.
3. Jason Statham
Bet you didn't know that before he got Cranked Up and kicked butt as the Transporter and an Expendable, he was on the British National Diving team. Perhaps he threatened to punch and kick the water if it dared ripple when he dove in.
4. Fred Dryer
Dryer played in the NFL for 13 seasons, mostly with the Los Angeles Rams, back when Los Angeles HAD a football team. He even had an interception for a touchdown. He then went on to have a long run onthe TV cop show Hunter. After the show ended in 1991, he's continued to have a lot of guest spots on shows, even now.
5. Bubba Smith
Smith, who played 7 seasons in the NFL, really became well-known for his role in Police Academy and its subsequent increasingly bad sequels, though he he been appearing on TV shows before that. He was able to use his size and strength for laughs. He died in 2011.
6. Bob Uecker
Uecker, who parlayed his mediocre baseball career as a catcher for comedy ("How do you catch a knuckleball? Wait till it stops rolling behind you and pick it up.") and commercials before appearing on the TV show Mr. Belvedere and Major League. He continues to broadcast for the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team.
7. Alex Karras
Who can forget Karras, who played 12 seasons for the Detroit Lions in the NFL, playing Mongo in Blazing Saddles? Of course, after that, he was on Webster with Emmanuel Lewis. Talk about a size disparity with co-stars.
8. Andre The Giant
Another wrestler, Andre is known for only one role, but oh what a role: Fezzik from The Princess Bride. People could argue that he was doing good acting when he was threatening to strangle Hulk Hogan in the WWF (before the WWE name change). Alas, he died too young, at the age of 46.
9. Carl Weathers
Weathers is best known for the role of Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies. He also was alien bait in the first Predator movie. Before that, he played a couple of seasons in the NFL. His greatest cinematic moment though had to be the most awkward bro-hug with Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III.
10. Jason Lee
Lee was a pro skateboarder before he became an actor, mostly playing slacker roles (My Name Is Earl) before switching to family fare like Alvin and the Chipmunks. How good was he? He was chosen to get his own brand of skating shoes, which put him up there with some dude named Tony Hawk.
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As its title suggests Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes is intended to lay the foundation for a new franchise of sci-fi flicks in which humans and super-intelligent apes battle for earthly supremacy. Its duty then is to explain within the span of two hours and with a modicum of credulity how exactly our simian friends might come to supplant us atop the animal kingdom. The scenario was at least partially addressed in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes the fourth entry in the original series’ convoluted and time-warped canon and while Wyatt's film draws inspiration from Conquest it is by no means a remake. Nor for that matter is related in any way to Tim Burton’s underwhelming 2001 entry. (And thank goodness for that.)
The titular rise begins as with many of the world’s great catastrophes with the actions of one highly irresponsible man. Will Rodman (James Franco) is a genetic scientist of prodigious talent and questionable ethics who works at a fancy San Francisco biotech firm called Gen-Sys (subtle!). His effort at producing a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease carries an ulterior motive: His father (John Lithgow) suffers from it and is close to entering its final stages. Will is close to a breakthrough when one of his chimpanzee test subjects goes well apesh*t causing his company’s suitably callous CEO Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo gamely spewing lines like “I run a business not a petting zoo!") to order the research facility’s entire chimp population liquidated.
Will is busy carrying out the grim mandate when he discovers that one of the test chimps has borne an offspring one he can’t bring himself to euthanize. Instead he and his primatologist girlfriend Caroline (Frieda Pinto gorgeous and superfluous) partners in appallingly bad decision-making decide to raise the infant chimp as their own naming it Caesar. Having inherited his mother’s gene modifications he shows signs of advanced intelligence and quickly develops a close bond with his adoptive human parents. But Caesar soon outgrows his domestic habitat and eventually must be shipped off to a simian “sanctuary” that is in reality anything but.
At this point we’re halfway through the film – and miles away from erudite apes and enslaved humans. To get us on track director Wyatt executes a rather audacious tonal shift transitioning abruptly from what was heretofore a fairly sober Project Nim dramatization into the balls-out apes-gone-wild summer action flick promised by the film’s trailers. His efforts are aided tremendously by his screenwriters Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa whose clever absorbing script offers just enough plausibility in the first half to make its increasingly loony second half not just palatable but downright enjoyable. Wyatt strikes a delicate thematic balance respecting the subject matter while acknowledging its inherent silliness. (Scattered throughout the film are sly nods to previous Planet of the Apes films as well as a glimpse of Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments.)
The silliness accelerates seemingly by the frame in Rise’s latter half as Caesar mounts a conspiracy to escape his Dickensian squalor exact revenge upon his cartoonishly malevolent captors and take his simian revolution to the streets. And it only gets crazier from there – the third act is basically a PETA wet dream. As far as cautionary tales go Rise is about as cautionary as they come.
Andy Serkis who performed all of the performance-capture work for Caesar is a marvel in the role though the question remains as to how the credit should be divvied up between him and the technicians at WETA digital who “painted” the character’s CG features. And make no mistake Caesar is very much a character – as well-rounded and fully-formed and convincing as they come and easily more compelling than any of his non-digital counterparts. Franco for his part is credible enough as a scientist who in spite of his academic credentials is a bit of a dolt (and perhaps a tad disturbed) and Lithgow tackles a relatively thankless role with grace. But the real stars are all those damn dirty apes.