Going for the gold — and this time it’s not medals! Several sports stars have Oscar or Emmy in their sights after making the switch to acting.
Some of the greatest athletes of all time, a.k.a. the GOATs, such as former NBA pro Michael Jordan and tennis icon Serena Williams, have tried their hand at movies and TV. Often, these competitors play fictionalized versions of themselves.
LeBron James has played “LeBron James” on the big screen not once, but twice. In his film debut in the 2015 film Trainwreck, the Los Angeles Laker held his own against his hilarious costars Amy Schumer and Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader, playing a frugal version of himself — and did so without a single acting lesson.
“[LeBron’s] been in front of the cameras since he was 18,” James’ business manager and childhood friend Maverick Carter told The Hollywood Reporter in July 2015. “He’s very comfortable in front of the camera. He didn’t need an acting coach.”
Since these sportsmen and women are used to the spotlight it seems only natural that they could seamlessly find success in front of the camera.
Retired gymnast McKayla Maroney vaulted her way into a television career with an appearance on Hart of Dixie in 2012. Rachel Bilson gushed over the gold medalist’s performance, telling Entertainment Tonight at the time, “I thought McKayla did an awesome job. She’s a natural.”
Fellow Olympian and downhill skier Lindsey Vonn made her acting debut in 2010 on one of her favorite shows, Law & Order, after creator Dick Wolf found out she was a fan.
Vonn joked that her character “was a lot more fun to play than a corpse,” when talking to the New York Daily News that same year.
“When we were doing the takes, I couldn’t stop smiling!” she added. “All the other actors were able to joke around between takes and then as soon as they called ‘Action!’ were serious, and I was still smiling and really excited. I don’t know if I did a great job.”
Nearly a decade later, the most decorated female skier in U.S. history revealed that she had been consulting with former wrestler turned box office star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson about her next move as a performer.
“He’s one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met,” Vonn told Yahoo in 2019. “I feel really lucky that he’s taken me under his wing … I’m learning. I want to learn as much as I can. Maybe acting is something I can do, maybe not. I just want to get all the information, and who better to get the information from than The Rock?”
She added, “I don’t know if I’d actually be good at acting [but] I am somewhat athletic, so I feel like I could punch a guy out.”
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Keep scrolling to see the athletes who have made the move to acting: