Top 5 Movie Roles Played by Wrestlers

Professional wrestlers have been stepping out of the squared circle and into the bright lights of Hollywood for ages. Most have been pretty bad (looking at you Triple H), but others have been pretty decent and some even iconic.

The Rock has become one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. While others, like John Cena, are popping up more and more on the big screen all the time.

So how does The Rock compare to other wrestlers turned actors. Here’s my take at the top 5 movie roles play be professional wrestlers.


Honorable Mentions

Terry Funk as Morgan in Roadhouse– Only because it’s Roadhouse and Roadhouse is awesome.

Jesse Ventura as Blain in Predator– one of the best movie lines of all time.. “I don’t have time to bleed!”

Rowdy Roddy Piper as Nada in They Live– The Hot Rod came here to chew bubble gum and kick ass in one of the best B-Movies ever… period.

5. Thunderlips (Rocky 3)- Hulk Hogan

Thunderlips “The Ultimate Male” versus Rocky Balboa “The Ultimate Meatball”… er.. “Italian Stallion” in Rocky 3. The match was set up for charity only no one seems to have told that to Thunderlips. The wrestler is out to prove professional wrestling isn’t fake by taking out the boxing champ.

Hogan basically played a trumped-up, hyper-violent version of Jesse “The Body” Ventura in his movie debut. The match ended in a draw, but the real winner was Hogan. His performance drew the attention of Hollywood and he has gone on to start in a number of movies and even his own TV series.

Despite only 5 minutes of screen time, Hogan’s performance has helped pave the way for other wrestlers to transition to film and that’s why “Thunderlips” cracks the top 5.

4. Jerry Lawler (Man on the Moon)- Jerry Lawler

A lot of actors have played themselves over the years with mixed results, (Arnold Schwarzenegger in Last Action Hero: Bad. Neil Patrick Harris in Harold & Kamar Go to White Castle: Good) but very few are asked to play themselves to depict something that happened in their past. In Man on the Moon Jerry “The King” Lawler was asked to play himself… 17 years earlier.

Jim Carrey stars as comedian Andy Kaufman who had an infamous feud with Lawler that spilled from the ring to the set of Late Night with David Letterman. In this case, Lawler is reenacting much of that feud including that now famous scene on the Letterman set.

Go back and compare the two scenes and you’ll see just how good Lawler is at being the exact same guy. If nothing else, Lawler aged really well between 1982 and 1999 that’s why he gets the 4 spot.

3. Hobbs (Fast & Furious Franchise)- The Rock

The Rock at 3?!?!

One on hand the Rock has been in by far the best movies in which a wrestler has EVER appeared. On the other hand, none of his roles have been particularly iconic. While I considered his role in San Andreas, it’s Hobbs from The Fast and Furious that truly rises above the rest.

What I love about this particular role is that in each movie it makes less and less sense and it bothers me in now way. These movies are what every summer popcorn blockbuster aspires to be: larger than life action that requires little to no thinking. The Rock fits perfectly as a larger than life super cop who can fall out of a building, land on a car and a week or two later pull a giant machine gun off a crashed helicopter and use it to take down another chopper. No big deal.

Putting The Rock on this list is a little unfair since he really isn’t a wrestler who acts, he’s a movie star who occasionally wrestles. But you know what? That’s just fine with me as long as he keeps cranking out the blockbusters like these.

2. Drax (Guardians of the Galaxy)- Dave Bautista

When you’re surrounded by a giant talking tree, a small but super smart talking Raccoon and one of the biggest actors on the planet you might think the wrestler turned actor could get lost in the shuffle. But as it turns out, Dave Bautista’s turn as the ultra-literal member of the Guardians of the Galaxy often stole the show.

Bautista is great here delivering some of the best lines in the entire movie, “nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it.” All while playing an alien hell-bent on avenging the murder of his family. Bautista was so good, he’s following The Rock’s path in transitioning from full-time wrestler to full-time actor.

This wasn’t Bautista’s first movie, but it certainly was and is his biggest. Since his Guardians appearance, Bautista played a villain in Spectre and he’s lined up to play a role in the sequel to Bladerunner. Not bad for a guy once giving a manager because he lacked mic skills.

1. Fezzik (The Princess Bride)- Andre the Giant

If we’re talking about iconic roles played by wrestlers, none is larger (literally) than Fezzik in The Princess Bride. This was the role Andre the Giant was born to play.

Fezzik is part of the gang along with swordsman Inigo Montoya and leader and self-proclaimed genius Vizzini. Vizzini treats Fezzik as if he’s just a big, dumb oaf. Turns out Fezzik is smarter than he gets credit for, and has a heart of gold. Perhaps the key Andre’s performance is that it is so close to how people described him in real life.

The other thing that makes Andre’s performance so amazing, is when you learn about all the pain he was in. He had back surgery just before the movie and was in such a bad way he couldn’t even carry Carey Elwes. Those scenes above were shot using ramps to make it appear he was on Andre’s back.

The Princess Bride was not a smash hit in theaters, but became a cult classic and nearly 30 years later is still a highly quotable movie. To have anyone other than Andre as Fezzik at the top of this list would be… wait for it… inconceivable!

Justin Chechourka
Justin Chechourka
By day, I am the Multimedia Manager for a major infrastructure project. By night, I am a sports loving, pop culture addicted, craft beer swirling, technology enhanced father of 3 small super heroes. I was a TV news producer for nearly 15 years, but I have a passion for writing. It’s a passion that is only matched by what my wife calls my uncanny ability to maintain a brain full of (mostly useless) facts about sports, beer and comic book-based movies & TV.