Former English soccer captain David Beckham has revealed he wants to become a serious actor after talking about his latest role in a Guy Ritchie movie about King Arthur.
Beckham is not the first sports star to follow the glow of Hollywood’s bright lights, and he’s certainly not the first soccer player to lust after the silver screen.
Joining the likes of Vinnie Jones, Eric Cantona and even Pele breaking into the film industry, Beckham has some tough competition for the most successful former pro-soccer-playing-actor.
He’s also got some excellent company in former sports stars who have been helped onto the big screen by director Guy Ritchie – with the aforementioned Jones and former Commonwealth Games diver Jason Statham both owing their careers (at least in part) to Ritchie.
Beckham also needs to avoid the fate of sports stars who have tried their hand at acting and have earned some rotten tomatoes – Dan Marino (for his cheesy role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), Dennis Rodman (who has only been able to make some television appearances), Shaquille O’Neill (some low-budget films) and Roger Clemens (who had a forgettable part in 2003’s Anger Management).
“I know that it is a tough profession, where you need a huge amount of skill and discipline … I am a well-known person, so I have got used to the criticism,” Beckham has said of his new career.
Hang in there, Becks. You’re not alone. Here are nine other athletes who have tried their hand at acting, with mixed results.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, pro wrestler
Movie: San Andreas
Played: Rescue helicopter pilot Ray Gaines.
What the critics said: “Not exactly earthshaking.” – The Hollywood Reporter
Rating: 5/5 – Despite the critics panning San Andreas – and the science behind the earthquake disaster movie – it did bring in $400 million at the box office worldwide. Johnson also starred in the final three movies of the popular Fast and the Furious franchise.
Michael Jordan, basketballer
Movie: Space Jam
What the critics said: “This clever mix of live action, highlighted by the unequalled skills of basketball superstar Michael Jordan, and animated Looney Tunes antics will be a must-see for kids, with repeat business a lock for many.” – Variety
Rating: 5/5 – Michael Jordan is a movie powerhouse unto himself and made this whacky movie a huge hit. Space Jam 2 is expected in the near future with rumours that Warner Bros. have signed basketball star LeBron James to replace Jordan in the lead role. Speaking of….
LeBron James, NBA basketballer
What the critics said: “Believe it or not, (LeBron) is actually quite a talented comedic actor, and he utilizes those skills to be one of the best parts of Judd Apatow’s new movie.” – Cinema Blend
Rating: 5/5 – LeBron fearlessly parodies himself as Bill Hader’s character’s hypersensitive and super cheap friend and is a complete standout.
Mike Tyson, boxer
Movie: The Hangover, The Hangover Part II.
What the critics said: “(The main character’s) circuitous journey brings them in contact with, among others, Taser-wielding cops, angry Asian gamblers, a perky stripper (a chipper Heather Graham) with newly forged ties to Stu, and an unexpectedly equanimous but not infinitely patient Mike Tyson (played, in a bold stroke of casting, by Tyson).” – Variety
Rating: 4/5 – Tyson is laugh-out-loud funny, especially when singing along to Phil Collins. Did you know he was also on an episode of TV series Webster?
Ronda Rousey, mixed martial artist
What the critics said: Fortunately, Rousey barely got a mention in the savaging the movie received. But there wasn’t much positive press about her role either.
Rating: 2/5 – Rousey was under-appreciated as a love interest to one of the film’s idiotic leads. But she’s enough of a star off the big screen for it not to matter.
John McEnroe, tennis star
Movie: You Don’t Mess with the Zohan
What the critics said: “(I)ts cast of cameos, among them Chris Rock and a shirt-removing John McEnroe, don’t seem at all sure what they’re doing, though this merely adds to the zingily energetic, throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks mood of the film.” – The Telegraph
Rating: 1/5 – No offense, John. The movie was a little too weird and it’s not exactly challenging to play yourself.
Tom Brady, NFL player
Movie: Ted 2
What the critics said: “(The movie) sets the stage for a delightfully crackpot artificial insemination scheme that sees Ted and John plotting to make off with the sperm of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (gamely playing himself).” – Variety
Rating: 3/5 – Because the movie did so well at the box office – more than $200 million worldwide – and his brief scene is hilariously uncomfortable.
Warning: Video contains content that may be offensive to some readers.
Vinnie Jones, soccer player
Movie: X-Men 3: The Last Stand
Played: The hot-headed, super-strong Juggernaut.
What the critics said: “I guess Vinnie Jones is supposed to be the comic relief in this. It’s bad.” – Comics Alliance
Rating: 3/5 – Despite the bad review – one look at Jones’ IMDb profile will show you he’s as hard-working on the big screen as he was on the pitch. Plus, he was good enough to nab a recurring role in TV series Arrow.
John Cena, pro wrestler
Played: Steven, Amy Schumer’s short-lived, self-absorbed boyfriend.
What the critics said: “Cena’s humor goes beyond the look-at-this-guy’s-oversized-presence-compared-to-an-actual-comedian model. He possess the kind of timing and sharp wit that gives him clearance to actually riff with seasoned performers.” – Esquire
Rating: 4/5 – For being a truly convincing, upsetting and clueless dating nightmare.