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10 Famous Actors that are also Successful Athletes

Watching The Battered Bastards of Baseball (2014) on Netflix, I was surprised to learn that the actor Kurt Russell was also a baseball player on the team. It is not always surprising to learn that an actor is also a singer or a dancer, or all three, “a triple threat” as they say. But serious sporting prowess is always more of a surprise.

Here are 10 more actors that you may not have known also had careers as successful athletes.

Just BTW, wrestlers (yes you Dwayne Johnson and Mickey Rourke) will be included on this list, since that is basically acting. We’ll also be leaving Arnie off the list, since everyone knows that he was an internationally acclaimed bodybuilder before he became an actor, and then a politician – now that’s a triple threat!

Dean Cain

Cain seems to be one of those typical overachievers. Famous due to his memorable turn in the role of Superman in Lois and Clark in the 1990s (which also made Teri Hatcher famous), he also went to Princeton University. There he played on the football team After college he did sign with the Buffalo Bills, but was injured at the pre-season training camp which put an end to his football future. Luckily the multi-talented man had many options.

Terry Crews

Terry Crews is now well known on the big screen thank for a memorable appearance as a hard man in The Expendables and show-stealing presence in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Before that, Crews played defense at Western Michigan University, and was then drafted into the Los Angeles Rams. He played 32 games in the NFL for a variety of teams before giving it all up for acting.

Josh Duhamel

Also known as the ex-Mr Fergie, the actor who has mostly made a name for himself in romantic comedies and Transformers, before that he played quarterback at Division II Minot State, where, in the space of two years, he made 1,242 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Strong but not dazzling (much like his acting career – burn!).

John Goodman

Before the big man became a staple in our favorite movies, he earned a scholarship to Southwest Missouri State University, but like so many people on our list, injury cut his career short. Luckily for us, he turned his talents to acting, and has featured in everything from kids favorite My Girl to the Coen Brothers bowling comedy The Big Lebowski.

Tommy Lee Jones


As well as being a successful Oscar-winning actor, Jones has academic credentials, having attended Harvard University, where he played on the offensive line of the football team. Oh, and he was also roommates with Al Gore. Quite the eventful existence.

Vinnie Jones

Again, movie hardman Vinnie Jones might be expected to have a background in boxing or martial arts. Not far off, he was an English football player, representing Chelsea, Leeds United, Sheffield United, Queens Park Rangers, and Wimbledon. He played over 200 games and was known for being one of those brash, physical players that hits hard on the field. Now he just pretends to hit hard on the screen (since acting is pretending).

Burt Reynolds

A bona fide movie star, Reynolds was almost a bona fide sports star as well. His first passion was football, playing First Team All-State at Palm Beach High School, and then playing running back for Florida State. But an injury in a car accident in his freshman year put an end to his sporting career. Not one to be kept down, he turned his determination and passion in a new direction.

Jason Segel

The tall actor is primarily known for How I Met Your Mother played basketball back in high school when he played for Harvard-Westlake. While his teammates Jaron and Jason Collins both went on to play professionally, Segel found his calling elsewhere.

Jason Statham

We all know that Jason Statham is hard as nails, but he was also a professional athlete, though probably not in the sport that most people expect. Statham was part of Britain’s National Diving Squad and competed in the 1990 Commonwealth Games. Naturally, he has also studied Wing Chun, Kung Fu, Karate, and Kickboxing.

Forest Whitaker

It may be no surprise that such a giant was also recruited for football. The Oscar-winning actor played for California State Polytechnic University of a scholarship. The big man was actually a quarterback in high school, rather than being a big defensive player. He was injured in college, which put an end to any serious career. But it still opened doors, his first film role was playing a football player in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

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