Beyond Shaq: 10 Other Athletes Who Act

Shaquille O'Neal will be returning to the big screen in an upcoming Adam Sandler movie, The Wrap reports. The basketball superstar is adding the comedy Jack and Jill to his extensive film resume, which already includes Scary Movie 4, Kazaam, and Blue Chips.



O'Neal may be among the sports world's most prolific actors, but he's not the only one. Athletes from former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino to Olympic ice skater Michelle Kwan have appeared in movies. Here, a look at the ten best athlete appearances in film:

Brett Favre in There's Something About Mary

Indecisive quarterback Brett Favre plays a heightened version of himself (Ok, maybe not that heightened), an all-American Adonis with whom Ben Stiller's Ted must compete for Cameron Diaz's Mary's affection. Favre is completely serviceable, as not much is demanded of him besides smiling and being charming. However, he—or rather his name—provides what is undeniably one of the comedic highlights of the film.



Dan Marino in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino plays himself in one of Jim Carrey's first big hits. As with Favre in There's Something About Mary, Marino doesn't say much, but his presence in the film is the source of countless laughs and one of the movie's most memorable lines—"Laces out, Dan." Marino gets extra points for letting himself be blamed for a both a major Super Bowl loss and the complete mental breakdown of one of his teammates.



Mike Tyson in The Hangover

The most brilliant comedic gems in The Hangover were the out of nowhere, random sight gags: a tiger in the bathroom, a baby wearing sunglasses, Stu losing his tooth. But when Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis return to their trashed Vegas hotel room to find Mike Tyson at the piano belting out 80s ballad "In the Air Tonight," those classic moments are instantly trumped...until Tyson decks Cooper with a blindsiding right hook, that is. Needless to say, this cameo was a knock-out.



Ray Allen in He Got Game

Most athlete appearances in movies are more about adding star power to a film than boosting its acting credentials. But in He Got Game, the NBA's Ray Allen showed he can dribble and act when he played Jesus Shuttlesworth, the country's top ranked basketball prospect—whose father (played by Denzel Washington) is in jail for killing his mother. The All-Star's performance got a rave from Roger Ebert, who called Allen "that rarity, an athlete who can act."



Derek Jeter in The Other Guys

Yankees slugger Derek Jeter makes a brief cameo in this summer's hit buddy cop comedy. Through a flashback we find out what exactly Mark E. Mark's character did to end up on desk duty with a buffoon, played by Will Ferrell, for a partner: he shot Jeter before Game Seven of the World Series. Jeter has one line, but his surprise appearance—and surprising language—make it one of the film's most memorable scenes.



Michael Jordan (and Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing and ...) in Space Jam

Space Jam was a Who's Who of major NBA stars, featuring cameos of everyone from Larry Bird to Charles Barkley to Patrick Ewing. The most prominent player of them all, of course, was His Airness Michael Jordan, who at the time was in retirement from basketball and playing baseball for a White Sox farm team. Here, the Looney Toons spoke for all sports fans as they tried to entice Jordan back to the NBA:



O.J. Simpson in the Naked Gun Trilogy

Before the black glove, before the white SUV, before he became known for that, O.J. Simpson was "The Juice"—a superstar NFL running back with a budding film career. He appeared in the iconic miniseries Roots, in The Towering Inferno, and most famously starred opposite Leslie Nielsen in the spy genre-spoofing Naked Gun trilogy. Playing straight man to Nielsen's Clousseau meets Magoo character, Simpson aptly sells the recurring joke in which he suffers the painful repercussions of Nielsen's imbecilic crime fighting antics.



Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane!

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar plays pilot Roger Murdock in Airplane!, but he can't shake his identity as a legendary center for the LA Lakers. In the middle of the flight a boy comes to the cockpit and recognizes him as a famous basketball player. Jabbar stays in character as "Roger" for a little while—but when the boy starts criticizing Jabbar's basketball skills, he jumps to his own defense:



Michelle Kwan in The Ice Princess

In Disney's The Ice Princess, Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan plays herself, only this time she's not Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, she's figure skating commentator Michelle Kwan. But as she explains in this Disney Channel behind the scenes clip, the main character in the film very closely mirrors Kwan's own life growing up on the ice. The brief footage of Kwan training star Michelle Trachtenberg to skate easily trumps anything else in the film.



Arnold Palmer in Call Me Bwana

Golf great Arnold Palmer appeared in Call Me Bwana, a 1963 film with a somewhat dated plot: a moon capsule containing classified information lands in middle-of-nowhere Africa, and the US sends a clueless envoy, played by Bob Hope, to retreive it. Somehow Hope and Palmer end up playing each other in golf, resulting in these amazing photos:

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Eon Productions

Presented by

Eleanor Barkhorn and Kevin Fallon

Eleanor Barkhorn is editor of The Atlantic's Entertainment channel. Kevin Fallon writes for and produces the channel.

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