Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is unquestionably the most well-known WWE superstar turned film star. “The People’s Champion” has starred in blockbuster films including Moana and the Fast & Furious franchise. InAugust 2020, he topped the Forbes list of the highest-paid male actors for the second consecutive year.
However, The Rock isn’t the only WWE superstar to parlay his success in sports entertainment into a career in Hollywood. Dave Bautista has appeared in films including Blade Runner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel, and Avengers: Infinity War.
Earlier, Hulk Hogan starred in several movies, including Rocky III, No Holds Barred, and Suburban Commando, as well as three television shows. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper starred in They Live and Immortal Combat, among many other films. And of course, André the Giant became a veritable pop culture icon after his appearance as Fezzik in the now-classic film The Princess Bride.
Below are six other WWE superstars who have appeared in movies.
Best known for his unprecedented 173-match winning streak in WCW, Bill Goldberg won several championships in the promotion and is a three-time champion in WWE. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2018. While he’s known more for his work in the squared circle, he has appeared in films including Universal Soldier: The Return (1999), Ready to Rumble (2000), The Longest Yard (2005), and Santa’s Slay (2005).
Goldberg, who is Jewish, played a demonic Santa Claus in the latter film which, despite its premise, is a relatively enjoyable film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. More importantly for Goldberg, he met his wife on the set of the film. “Three and a half months after we met, I asked her to marry me, and it’s been the most wonderful time of my life ever since,” he said during an appearance on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football in 2016.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin was listed one spot ahead of The Rock at No. 3 on Sports Illustrated‘s 2016 list of the top 101 wrestlers of all-time. While Austin hasn’t experienced nearly the same level of success in films as The Rock, “The Texas Rattlesnake” has still starred in films including The Expendables (2010), The Condemned (2007), and Maximum Conviction (2012). He also played Detective Jake Cage in six episodes of Nash Bridges and is the host of Straight Up Steve Austin on the USA Network, which concluded its second season in March 2021.
“Big Sexy” Kevin Nash, aka Diesel, won 21 championships in WWE, WCW, and TNA over the course of his decades-long career. The two-time WWE Hall of Fame inductee has also had some success outside of the ring as he has appeared in films including The Punisher (2004), The Longest Yard (2005), and John Wick (2014). He also appeared as Tarzan in Magic Mike XXL (2015). He’s expected to star alongside his Magic Mike XXL co-star Channing Tatum in Dog (2022) and is also cast to play Ranger Steele in the horror film Circle of 3s.
Nathan Jones’ career in WWE was short-lived, since the Australian wrestler only spent about a year with the company in the early 2000s before quitting due to the rigorous travel demands. He later found work as an actor on projects including The Condemned (2007), Conan the Barbarian (2011), and Troy (2004). His character in the latter is notably killed by Achilles, played by Brad Pitt, in the opening scene.
Jesse “The Body” Ventura is known for several accomplishments outside of wrestling. He wrestled for several promotions during the 1970s and 80s and was an award-winning color commentator for the WWE in the late 1980s. However, he left the company in 1990 to pursue a career in politics and, after serving as mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, was elected governor of the state in 1998. He considered a run for president as a Green Party candidate in the 2020 election, but ultimately did not run.
During his film career, Ventura has garnered supporting roles in several films, two of which he appeared opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger: Predator (1987) and The Running Man (1987). Ventura played assassin-turned-media celebrity Captain Freedom in the latter. He has also appeared in Thunderground (1989), Ricochet (1991), Demolition Man (1993), and The Drunk (2014).
Jerry “The King” Lawler was a Memphis wrestling legend during the 1980s and later earned national fame as a wrestler and color commentator with WWE. He notably performed an on-air stunt with comedian Andy Kaufman on an episode of Late Night with David Letterman in the 1980s. As part of a “work,” Lawler punched Kaufman in the face. Lawler later played himself in a recreation of this incident for the 1999 Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon. Jim Carrey, meanwhile, played Kaufman and, according to Lawler, was incredibly hostile on set, while attributing his actions to “method acting.”
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