We all know that The Rock has become one of the most lucrative box-offices draws of the past few years – however, he is not the only wrestler to make the move from the squared circle to the big screen. With John Cena also upping his acting game in this Christmas’s anticipated action blockbuster prequel, Bumblebee, Robert looks at some of the best known (and some more obscure) wrestlers who also stepped out of the ring.
Rowdy Roddy Piper – They Live (1988)
“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubble gum”. Yes, ex-wrestler Roddy Piper did utter those iconic lines in this fantastic John Carpenter take on consumerism (and they were supposedly ad-libbed too). With a world subtly taken over by aliens who are continually telling us to buy, consume and obey it’s up to Piper in the role of George Nada and a pair of specially created alien-spotting sunglasses to take down the entire global conspiracy. Well remembered for one of the longest and brutal fight scenes in film history Piper and co-star Keith David were only supposed to be at each other for just under a minute but after 5 minutes of ‘real’ fighting John Carpenter kept in each and every punch and kick to make film history.
Piper also starred in ‘Hell Comes to Frog-Town’ however that’s best forgotten about!
Robert Maillet – Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Another giant of the ring Intially appearing in WWE as part of the collective group called the Oddities the huge Mr Maillet was given the wrestling name Kurrgan, which given the similarities with the fantastical character from Highlander could have caused a bit of a problem – however in some ways was a forebear of the rest of Mr Maillets career where heh as spent most of his time under a tonne of make-up in numerous fantasy films. From a Frankenstein Monster to a mythical minotaur to a uber-Immortal in 300 the career as a creature feature seemed inevitable however we do actually get to see Robert Malliet in all his tall glory in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes film where he plays Dredger, a man so massive that all of Holmes clever forward thinking attacks, kung-fu or fighting prowess gets him absolutely nowhere against this massive man.
Andre the Giant – The Princess Bride (1987)
In his penultimate screen appearance, Andre who legitimately stood over seven feet tall played the gentle giant Fezzik in Roy Reiner and William Goldman’s take on the classic happily ever after tale. Fond of rhyming and puns Fezzik is at times very difficult to understand thanks to Andre’s deep rumbling voice and hard French accent, however, actions speak louder than words and amiably quite happy to let his companion Inigo Montanya and Vizzini do all the talking. Fezzik was a lovable force to be reckoned with and dressed up in a holocaust cloak made a very convincing Dread Pirate Roberts.
HHH – Blade: Trinity (2004)
The King of Kings AKA HHH or Paul Leveque, as his mum knows him has been a regular on WWE television for over 20 years. Married to Stephanie McMahon (the daughter of WWE big-boss Vince) HHH is a power player both in front and behind the camera for WWE television and the mastermind behind NXT. For somebody who is nearly 300lbs of pure muscle and looks like he should be in a Robert E Howard novel is actually a competent actor and, when needed, comedian. Best known for his role in Blade: Trinity as Jarko Grimwood, HHH should have had a lot more to do as this menacing dog breeder but this initial stepping stone has shown that after his career in the ring comes to an end there is always a lot more work out there for him.
The Great Khali – Get Smart (2008)
WWE’s Punjabi giant the Great Khali may well not be the best wrestler in the world but saying that to Dalip Singh, the man behind the moniker, would be a mistake as at over 7ft this ex-policeman could legitimately show you the long arm of the law. As well as appearing on WWE programming Mr Singh has also found work in his native india in numerous Hindi films and television shows but is best remembered for his role as the immense ‘heavy’ Dalip in Get Smart.
Macho Man Randy Savage – Spider-Man (2002)
“Oh Yeah” it’s the Macho Man. One half of the Mega-Powers, paramour to Miss Elizabeth and master of the madness, Macho Man has lent his unique look and voice to numerous television shows and cartoons but is best remembered as Bonesaw McGraw in in Raimi’s Spider-Man movie. Passing away in 2011 Macho Man left a legacy behind of a larger than life character willing to parody himself and the world of wrestling in general and of course is still sadly missed by all wrestling fans almost eight years on.
Kevin Nash – The Punisher (2004)
The immense Kevin Nash first appeared on-screen in the guise as Super-Shredder in the sequel to the first live-action TMNT film. He also played Stacee Jaxx’s (Tom Cruise) bodyguard (and baboon minder) in Rock of Ages as well as Tarzan, one of Magic Mike’s troupe of strippers. But it was his role as the unstoppable assassin The Russian in the under-whelming Punisher movie where he made his first big impact in film – not a good movie but fun to see Big Sexy on screen.
Big Van Vader – Fist of the North Star (1995)
Sadly passing away earlier this year Leon While aka Vader was a genuine mastodon who not only legitimately took off MickFoley’s ear while they wrestled in Germany but also had his eye socket shattered in a match (in which he calmly popped his eye back into place). A more obscure one this but as well as playing himself in Boy Vs World he also played Goliath is this mid-90s live action take on the classic manga. While not saying a lot the part he did have the honour of having his head exploded by the Fist’s super-punch.
Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister – The Dark Knight (2008)
While initially seen as the unstoppable opponent Zeus for Hulk Hogan to tackle in No Holds Barred it is his role as Ginty, the prisoner with the conscience from The Dark Knight, that he will be best known.
Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura – Predator (1987)
Although having successfully tried his hand at politics Ventura will always be remembered for his work with good chum and fellow politician, Arnie. He hammed it up to humorous effect as Captain Freedom in The Running Man but his most iconic role was as Blaine, the mini-gun wielding ‘Sexual Tyrannosaur’ from Predator.