It’s officially March Madness. A time when seasoned athletes take to the court to show who is the sportiest. There’s a ton of theatrics in basketball, in fact we even wrote a whole article about it, if you’re a theater person reading this, just think of March Madness as the pre-Broadway run of Hamilton. Every once in a while, comes that rare athlete that can take their talent and command for an audience off the court, and on to the big screen, and not always just for cameos playing themselves (there’s a lot of that, but not always). For a look at some multitalented pros who successfully made the transition from player to performer, here are 5 Athletes Who Can Act.
1. Ray Allen
Olympic gold medal haver and ten-time NBA All-Star Ray Allen, also happens to be Jesus. Well, he played Jesus. Well, he played a character named Jesus Shuttlesworth in the Spike Lee sports drama He Got Game. Allen’s character was the son of Denzel Washington’s, any actors dream, and sure, he played a basketball player, but his performance garnered rave reviews from critics, including Roger Ebert. Allen went on to play Marcus Blake in the 2001 film Harvard Man, and, like any rich athlete, in a bunch of Pepsi commercials.
2. Mike Tyson
With the exception of William Shatner, not many other people have managed to make such a successful career essentially playing caricatures of themselves like Mike Tyson has. After a dramatic, and sometimes terrifying, boxing career/personal life, Tyson got a tattoo on his face, just to remind people that he may be a crazy person, and started appearing in comedies like The Hangover and WWE as a (hopefully) exaggerated version of himself. He even graced the stage in a one-man show about his life directed by Spike Lee. If you’re an athlete trying to act, call Spike Lee, or maybe he’ll find you.
3. Carl Weathers
Former Oakland Raider Carl Weathers was destined to be a athlete/actor from the beginning, earning a B.A. in Drama from San Francisco State University in 1974 (go Gators). Weathers appeared in Action Jackson, Predator (alongside fellow athlete/actor Arnold Schwarzenegger), an episode of Good Times, and, most notably, alongside Sylvester Stallone in Rocky as Apollo Creed. Weathers has an acting resume many would be proud of, but his best role (according to me anyway) will always be as himself in Arrested Development as the deal-seeking acting coach of Tobias. Hilarious.
4. Michael Jordan
Haters, start lining up now, because I’m gonna say it; Michael Jordan should have won an Oscar for Space Jam. Hear me out! Most actors have other human actors to play off of, Jordan was able to hold his own, amongst the looniest of tunes, and still tug at our heart strings as he poked fun at his own failed baseball career and came out our hero again slam-dunking to a song that would play at every graduation in 1996. Plus, no one can sell white cotton underthings better than this tall drink o’ gatorade.
5. Arnold Schwarzenegger
He’s got the biggest muscles, the most successful acting career, and the longest last name on this list. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a man of many talents, he’s been Mr. Universe, Mr. Olympia (7 times), and Mr. Governator for two whole terms. Starting his illustrious acting career with Conan the Barbarian, Schwarzenegger has starred in the biggest of blockbusters as an action star and a bonafide comedy actor. Sure he was the Terminator, The Running Man, and Commando, but who else can successfully portray a pregnant man! No one else could fill those shoes… or man-womb.