Sports stars have long looked to make the jump into other forms of entertainment. Who can forget Kareem Abdul-Jabar’s hilarious part in comedy classic “Airplane”? Or seeing Brett Favre show up as Cameron Diaz’s ex-boyfriend in “There’s Something About Mary”? Moments like these provide extra layers of humor, bringing fans in on a meta-joke that can be talked about for months if not years thereafter.
Given how much fun fans tend to have seeing these prominent sports figures taking on film cameos (and sometimes even larger roles), it should come as no surprise that many from the world of professional wrestling have gotten involved in other forms of media as well. Pro wrestling, after all, exists already in a kind of hazily defined area in between sports and entertainment.
Indeed, even before you consider cinematic crossovers, the public’s fascination with wrestlers extends far beyond just watching them on TV. The WWE 2K series of video games has been going strong for nearly 20 years now, with a new title expected next year. You can also find the WWE branding in other genres of gaming, such as online slots. The Foxy Games titles online include WWE Legends Link and Win, which places the iconic imagery of the WWE front and center. The same branding, meanwhile, is also used in other licensed offerings on iOS and Android, such as WWE Mayhem.
With such a reach across digital media, wrestlers have inevitably made their way into a number of films as well. From Hulk Hogan’s famous foray into acting to Seamus’s turn as Rocksteady in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2”, there are actually countless examples to look back on.
Here are a few of our favorite performances by WWE stars in Hollywood films.
Andre the Giant in “The Princess Bride”
If you’ve never seen “The Princess Bride,” you’re missing out on one of the most intensely quotable films of all time. Framed as a story being told by a grandfather to his ill grandson, this movie contains some of the best dialogue in film history. Much of it is spoken by the legendary Andre the Giant, who plays the gentle-hearted but massive Fezzik. There is a kindness to Fezzik that likely comes from the real Andre’s famously kind heart. His lines are delivered slowly and deliberately (a result of the wrestler’s struggles with English), but with trademark wit that makes him effortlessly hilarious in the role.
Bautista in “Guardians of the Galaxy”
He may not have quite as prominent a place in modern superhero cinema as Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man or Chris Evans’s Captain America, but Dave Bautista’s Drax the Destroyer is undeniably an MCU highlight. Bautista got his start as a professional wrestler with WWE, and is thus able to bring a much-needed physicality to this powerful “Guardians of the Galaxy” character. But it’s the wrester’s deadpan delivery that actually plays perfectly for a character who doesn’t understand sarcasm or metaphors, taking everything literally (and ultimately providing heavy doses of comic relief). Though he is often played for laughs, there is a depth to Drax that Bautista gets to explore in the second film in the series, showing off some legitimate acting chop.
Randy Savage in “Spider-Man”
This barely counts as straying from pro wrestling, since Randy Savage is standing in a wrestling ring playing an amateur wrestler named Bonesaw. But the scene is noteworthy because it delivered some of the most quotable moments in 2001’s “Spider-Man.” Every line is delivered with exactly the same timber and cadence that fans expected from Macho Man at the time, but he is clearly having the time of his life hamming it up in the scene. Plus, his old-school wrestling physique provides a perfect foil to Peter Parker’s lean athleticism, ultimately helping to showcase just how powerful the teenage superhero is becoming (when Parker of course gets the upper hand). Sadly, Savage’s untimely death in 2011 means that he will not be able to join other early-franchise villains reprising their roles in the upcoming “Spider-Man” film. But ScreenRant reports that the MCU does now consider Bonesaw to be canon –– a fitting and well-deserved tribute to a memorable role.
These are far from the only notable wrestling cameos in films. But they’re certainly some of our favorites.