The Worst Athletes Turned Actors

By Michael LeCompte

The reason athletes so often turn to acting is simple, after achieving success in their chosen sport they are extremely marketable. The pull of potential big-screen fame is strong and movies are an easy payday for athletes.

However, just because an athlete is popular or marketable does not necessarily mean movies are a good idea. Athletes are highly skilled in the very narrow profession of sports, but that doesn’t mean they have the skills to act. The result is often movies so laughably bad that they’re good. Before the camera athletes, usually so graceful on the field, sometimes become painfully awkward and we, the audience, can’t stop watching.

Here is a look at some of the worst athletes turned actors and the memorably bad movies they made.

Brian Bosworth
“The Boz” was a flamboyant, obnoxious, and dominant linebacker at the University of Oklahoma in the mid-1980’s. Often controversial, he wore a styled mullet, clashed with his coaches and criticized the NCAA. Drafted by the Seahawks he only played two seasons in the NFL due to shoulder injuries. His most memorable moment in the NFL was when he called out Bo Jackson of the Raiders and was subsequently levelled by Jackson on his way into the end zone. That one failure of a play pretty much summed up his short career.

Since retiring Bosworth has made 15 movies, most of them low-budget action films where his character is basically just some form of himself, usually seated atop a motorcycle or out for vengeance.

Bosworth’s best films are probably Stone Cold and One Man’s Justice.

Michael Jordan
Jordan is probably the greatest basketball player ever, but there are a few things he’s not good at and acting is one of them (playing baseball is the other).

From a marketing perspective Space Jam was brilliant. It combined the most recognizable athlete in the world with the most beloved cartoon characters of all time. Commercially the film was a success grossing over $230 million worldwide, but for basketball fans so used to seeing Jordan do whatever he wanted on the court, watching him awkwardly struggle through the film was just strange.

Hulk Hogan
Professionally wrestling is sports entertainment, not necessarily a real sport, but wrestlers are certainly athletic and their high-flying routines are something no athlete from any other sport could duplicate. Showmanship is a definite part of wrestling so it’s not surprising that so many wrestlers make movies.

In the 1980’s no wrestler was bigger than Hulk Hogan. Hulkamania ran wild in the ring and worldwide through a massive marketing campaign. This level of popularity naturally led to movies, however, Hulkamania did not run wild at the box office.

After a promising start to his acting career in 1983’s Rocky III, Hogan’s acting career never really took off. He starred in a string of low-budget action films such as the Thunder in Paradise series and Suburban Commando, as well as children’s films such as Santa With Muscles and Mr. Nanny.

It has recently been rumored that Hogan will star in the fourth installment of his old buddy Sylvester Stallone’s action franchise The Expendables.

Dennis Rodman
Rodman played 14 seasons in the NBA and was known for ferocious defense, great rebounding, rainbow-colored hair styles and piercings. Nicknamed “The Worm” Rodman also dabbled in acting. His films Double Team and Simon Sez are some of the worst of the worst. They are poorly written, cheaply made, and the acting is atrocious.

In a curious bit of casting Rodman starred alongside Jean Claude Van Damme and Mickey Rourke in Double Team. The result was perhaps the worst acting in cinematic history with the accented Van Damme, the multiple bad plastic surgeries of Rourke, and the many piercings of Rodman making it almost impossible to understand the dialogue.

Shaquille O’Neal
Over a 19 year NBA career Shaq averaged 23 points and 8 rebounds a game. Perhaps more importantly he was one of those players that changed the game. At 7’1” and 325 pounds he was not only bigger, but stronger than any other player on the floor. He was so dominant that teams employed special defensive (hack-a-shaq) strategies to defend him.

However he was not so dominant at the box office, starring in such commercial flops as Kazaam and Steel.

In 1996’s Kazaam Shaq played a 5,000 year old genie trapped in a boom box who is released to grant a small boy three wishes. The film grossed $19 million on a $20 million budget.

If possible 1997’s Steel was even worse. Shaq played John Henry Irons in the flop that grossed just $1.7 million on a $16 million budget.

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