Actors who once were athletes

Today, we know them as successful actors who appear in our favorite movies and TV shows, but things might have been different. The truth is some of the most famous actors were actually athletes and many of them were so good that they could have gone pro. Hara’s a list of celebrities who were decent athletes.

Jason Statham








Before his life as a skilled action star Jason Statham was a competitive diver, participating as a member of the British National Diving Squad for 12 years. He placed 12th in the world for diving on a platform in 1992. He also took to modeling for French Connection, but diving and modeling didn’t pay the bills, so he followed in his father’s footsteps and hustled on the streets of London. It was this unlikely “occupation” that helped him land his debut acting role as a conman in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Burt Reynolds








He never made it to the professional league but he did play the fullback position for the Florida State Seminoles. Reynolds started his acting career in Western movies during the 1960’s and then turned into a male love symbol in the 70’s and 80’s. He is well-known for his appearances in Boogie Nights, Evening Shade, Deliverance and The Longest Yard.

Mark Harmon








Mark’s father was Tom Harmon, who won the Heisman Trophy at Michigan in 1940 and his mother was Elyse Knox, was a model and movie star in the ‘30s and ‘40s. So it looks like it was destiny that Mark Harmon managed to do both, first as a star quarterback at UCLA and then as an actor. Harmon was starting quarterback for UCLA in 1972 and 1973.

Carl Weathers








Weathers played football at Long Beach City College and San Diego State University for his college career. He then had a short career of seven games with the Oakland Raiders and then transferred to the CFL for two years. At this point, Weathers realized he wasn’t good enough to last in football so he changed his career to acting and was pretty successful. He was featured as heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed in the four Rocky films. On top of that, he had another big role as Chubbs Peterson in Happy Gilmore. This was just the highlight of his acting career as he has had roles in numerous big-time shows and movies.

Jason Lee








Many people don’t know this, but Jason Lee used to be a professional skateboarder. He was actually the first skateboarder that popularized the 360 flip. However, Lee is most well-known for his lead role on TV hit series, My Name is Earl. He’s also had voice appearances on American Dad, The Incredibles and Alvin and the Chipmunks. Other hit TV series he has been featured in include: Raising Hope, Up All Night and Memphis Beat.

Ed O’Neill

Ed O'Neill







Al Bundy may have exaggerated his playing days, but the actor behind him, Ed O’Neill, never needed to. He played defensive line for Youngstown State and was picked up by the Steelers in 1969 but didn’t make it through training camp without being cut. It was perhaps never meant to be, as he often feuded with his coach in college. He has found superstardom twice as an actor though, once as the aforementioned Al Bundy on Married with Children and also as Jay Pritchett on ABC’s hit Modern Family.

Dean Cain








While he is most known for being Superman on the TV show Lois & Clark, Dean Cain almost missed acting entirely when he chased after the dream of playing for the NFL. Cain played football for Princeton University and even set an NCAA Division 1-AA record for most interceptions in a season. Immediately upon graduating in 1988, he signed with the Buffalo Bills, but a knee injury during training camp knocked him out of the game before it even began.

Kurt Russell








Kurt Russell began as a star baseball player for the California Angels (now the Los Angeles Angels) in 1971. Russell played for four of the Angels’ minor league affiliates and was named a league All-Star in his first year. He was sure to be called up to the majors but his career ended when he tore his rotator cuff in 1973.

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