If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: I will watch anything that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is in. I mean, I even thought the Tooth Fairy was fun because he was in it.
And with the release of Rampage last weekend, I was able to see one of my favorite actors bringing one of my favorite childhood video games to life on the big screen, and I gotta say… I really enjoyed it! And on my way out of the theater, I started thinking about some of my favorite pro-wrestler-turned-actor movies, and I was surprised at how many of my favorite movies feature such a performer. So, like I am want to do, I’ve decided to share my favorite acting performances from pro-wrestlers – enjoy!
Dwayne Johnson in Moana – I know I already mentioned him, but he’s definitely gotta be on my list when it comes to acting performances by a pro wrestler. He’s had quite the impressive acting career – from the typical macho action roles in movies like Fast and the Furious to performances that are maybe a little more nuanced, like the remake of Walking Tall in 2004, which I actually really, really liked. He’s got some great comedic potential too, which he showcased in my second favorite film he’s starred in, The Rundown. I almost picked that as my go-to for his movies, but I had a bit of an epiphany that Moana, a movie I’ve watched well over 100 times now (thanks to my beautiful daughter), is my favorite performance of his. His role as Maui was an opportunity for him as a performer to really showcase some of the talents that he’s maybe not known for, namely his tremendous comedic timing and impressive vocal range. Who would have thought that The Rock had some serious pipes? I love me some Dwayne Johnson, and his versatile and fun performance in Moana just cemented him as one of my favorite actors around.
Dave Bautista in Blade Runner 2049 – This one was a really hard one for me to choose because I have really enjoyed pretty much everything that Bautista has acted in since his hiatus from the WWE. He hasn’t been featured in quite as much as some other wrestlers-turned-actors, but he’s made up for that with some pretty epic performances. Initially, I had my favorite movie of his down as Guardians of the Galaxy, and who would have faulted me for that choice? His hilarious portrayal of Drax is maybe one of my favorite characters in the entire MCU, and his line about being so fast that he could catch anything going over his head is still one of my favorite laugh-out-loud moments of any superhero movie ever. However… When it comes to some really impressive acting chops, I have to say my favorite performance of his came in the early moments of Blade Runner 2049. We’ve come to know Bautista as a brash, loud, bruising character, both on the canvas in a WWE match and in some of his film roles, but the quiet, brooding, mysterious role as the replicant in hiding at the start of the new Blade Runner, we were able to experience him in a whole new light. That’s not just one of the better acting moments from a former pro wrestler, that’s just one of the better acting moments I’ve seen in a while, period.
Jesse Ventura in Predator – It’s a shame that Jesse “The Body” Ventura’s acting career was somewhat shortlived because the movies he was in were pretty damn awesome, and it all kicked off in 1987 with his debut in Predator, followed up by The Running Man. It appeared the combo of Arnold and The Body was a match made in heaven, but I’m sad to say that it was mostly cameos and small bit parts following those breakout flicks (oh, and I guess we can mention is a successful political career, too!). When it comes to my favorite performance for Jesse Ventura, I have to point to one of my favorite sci-fi action movies ever: Predator. This movie just rocks, plain and simple, and Ventura had the perfect amount of machismo and comic relief that he fit right into the ragtag group flying into the jungle. And to top it all off, he’s got one of the most badass one-liners in the history of film when he says “I ain’t got time to bleed”. Man, I want to grow up to be that cool…
John Cena in Trainwreck – I’m honestly surprised John Cena made it into this list, I have no idea how anybody can even see him in the movies he stars in. Ha! See what I did there? You know, because that’s his thing, you can’t see him… I’m funny, dammit! Anyway… Cena didn’t have the hottest start when it comes to his career as an actor, and he was typecast as the brooding tough guy military dude that needs to take down the bad guys. I feel like his career might not have faired too well, had it not been for his uncanny comedic ability. Who woulda thunk that John Cena would be so dang funny? He has some hilarious acting credits on his resume now with recent movies like Blockers and Ferdinand, the latter of which he lent some impressive voice acting talents to, but his breakout performance, and my favorite of his by far, is his role in Trainwreck. He was seriously the highlight of that whole movie for me, and it was clear that he was absolutely in his element – and I feel that’s only reaffirmed when you see how funny and wacky he was in some of the blooper reels for the film. It’s surprising to see someone like Cena not mesh as well with some of the action roles he’s been cast in, but I feel like this may only be the beginning of a long and successful comedy career for him – and I can’t wait to wait in line for his movies!
Andre the Giant in The Princess Bride – How could I write up a list like this and not include the amazing and talented Andre the Giant? Andre’s acting career debuted in 1976 with The Six Million Dollar Man, but it was the role he was cast in a little over a decade later that would become easily his most iconic role, and one of the most iconic and oft-quoted roles ever: Fizzik in 1987’s The Princess Bride. This mountain of a man fit the role so perfectly and meshed so well with the entire cast. His amazing comedic delivery during the poetry scene truly is one of the best comedic performances I’ve seen, and was actually a scene I drew a lot of comedy inspiration from early on in my acting career. Andre the Giant wasn’t your run-of-the-mill Hollywood hunk or your typical movie star, but the fact that he was arguably the fan-favorite and most beloved character of that whole movie (a movie filled with big-name stars and some hunky dudes of that generation, by the way…) says a lot about the talent and charisma this incredible man brought on set every day. The Princess Bride is a movie that I throw on at least once every year or so, and I’m thrilled, enchanted, and delighted each and every time – and a great deal of that enjoyment comes from the amazing performance from Andre the Giant.