These wrestling stars are smashing it in Hollywood
It’s no secret that the WWE wrestlers are great actors. It’s not just the physicality of their work that makes them popular with millions of fans around the world – they’re great actors too in the ring.
They’re making the move over to mainstream acting, one movie at a time, and we’re not just talking about those cheesy WWE Studios action movies either. We’re looking at you, John Cena (who you’ll see in the hilarious family comedy Playing With Fire, on Showmax) and Randy Orton.
Dwayne Johnson cut his teeth in the WWE as The Rock. But that’s where he preferred to leave his nickname – in the WWE. Nowadays, Dwayne is one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood. In 2019 alone, he was one of the highest-grossing actors on the big screen, with his movies pulling in billions rather than millions.
That was without staring in his hit HBO sport dramedy series Ballers on Showmax.
Like his WWE fame, Dwayne’s success isn’t overnight – he’s been working in film since 2001 when he stared in The Mummy Returns and 2002’s The Scorpion King as Mathayus the Egyptian Scorpion King warrior. Roles like Beck and Chris in 2003’s The Rundown and 2004’s Walking Tall were perfect for Dwayne – the characters were aggressive and macho and called for someone built like a granite mountain… aka The Rock.
But Dwayne has been meticulous with his selection of roles – not to be typecast. He voiced Charles Baker in animated movie Planet 51 (2009), wore a tutu as Derek in 2010’s Tooth Fairy, and has continued to flex his muscles in the Fast & Furious franchise as Luke Hobbs – he even got his own spin-off movies. Plus he’s played intellectual Dr Bravestone in the Jumanji reboot movies (2017-now), so he’s proving as diverse as he is strong.
Want a Dwayne Johnson overload? Good – Showmax has you covered
- GI Joe Retaliation: action movie, lots of punches
- Hercules: action Greek hero, lots of killing people
- Gridiron Gang: coming-of-age drama about troubled teens getting direction
- Ballers: football agent sport drama, loads of laughs, loads of hard-hitting action
Brains & brawn
Dave Bautista has quietly been making his own mark in Hollywood, although he’s not as fame-hungry as The Rock. Like Dwayne, Dave comes from humble stock and grew up shunning the limelight. His parents were hairdressers and they lived in a poor suburb of Washington DC.
“I am proud of my parents. They are good, honest, hard-working folks. They taught me the value of working hard,” says the 51-year-old. And like Dwayne, Dave’s size has always got him noticed – he worked as a nightclub bouncer until his early 20s and quit after beating a rowdy patron unconscious. Thanks to his martial arts training, the WWE was the perfect place for him to work from 1999 to 2014, until he moved over to acting.
Dave’s first movie role was an uncredited wrestler in 2006’s Relative Stranger. And he followed his colleague into The Scorpion King franchise, playing warrior Argomael in 2011’s Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption.
Like his WWE persona Batista, Dave’s roles haven’t been what you’d call “intellectually stimulating”. His characters tend to be dark, quiet, brooding, with few words. Not because he’s dim and can’t string a sentence together. Dave just excels in those types of roles. Like silent assassin Mr Hinx in the James Bond movie Spectre.
Even when Dave does get lines, his stilted, awkward delivery makes them genius: like Drax The Destroyer in Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy movies (2014-now). It’s a role that almost never came his way, says Dave, but he’s made it his own:
“Oh my God, it was a nightmare. I was terrified. I was really desperate at the time, I had hardly worked in three years, and I had gone broke from wrestling and I was desperate to get a job. I finally got an agent like two weeks before I got the audition for Guardians. My agent says ‘You know, I really had to fight to get you this audition. It was really hard to get, they didn’t really want to audition you. They didn’t want any pro wrestlers, so I don’t want to get your hopes up.’”
Looking for a little Bautista brawn to fill your screens? Stream these…
- Escape Plan 2: Hades on Showmax: prison action movie with Sly Stallone
- My Spy on Showmax: Dave stars as a former special forces soldier charged with looking after a precocious young girl
- Bushwick on Netflix: action thriller about a troubled war veteran (Dave was lead actor and executive producer)
Keep an eye out later in 2020 because Dave is staring in epic sci-fi videogame and book adaptation Dune, playing Glossu Rabban, a violent and sadistic planet-invading alien.