Born Again Actors: Alternative Hollywood Careers


It’s no secret that many actors feel they were born to act; that they wouldn’t know what they’d do if they couldn’t go on set or grace the silver screen any longer. Actors such as former child star turned cinematic chameleon Daniel Radcliffe have gone on record recently saying they’d be bereft if they were told they couldn’t act any longer, and cannot imagine another career path. Some, such as former comedian Kevin Hart, took a different road before finding their calling in life.

To celebrate the release of Hart’s latest hit comedy, Central Intelligence, which is available on Digital Download now and Blu-ray & DVD from 24th October, we take a look at actors who took a slightly different path on the road to superstardom.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
Hart’s co-star in Central Intelligence and all round big screen titan, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson started out his career as a WWE wrestler, having played American Football to national championship level. From 1996 – 2004 Johnson was a major figure on the WWE circuit. A study in the art of multi-tasking, Johnson enjoyed an overlap between his wrestling and film career, making his feature film debut in 2001’s The Mummy Returns as The Scorpion King; a role he reprised in 2002’s film of the same name. Roles in comedies Be Cool, Get Smart and Race To Witch Mountain followed, before Johnson got his big break in 2011’s Fast & Furious 5. Since then Johnson has been unstoppable, starring in the likes of Pain & Gain, Empire State and San Andreas; and with the likes of Baywatch and Jumanji on the horizon the Johnson juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Boasting California’s most famous biceps, before Austrian born Arnold Schwarzenegger became known as a Hollywood heavyweight (in more ways than one), he built a reputation as the best bodybuilder of all time; winning Mr Universe at the age of 20 and Mr Olympia seven times. Not content with his weightlifting prowess ‘Arnie’ turned to the big screen; earning his first major role in 1982’s Conan The Barbarian. This paved the way for Hollywood producers to come calling, and just two years later he starred in James Cameron’s The Terminator – one of his most iconic roles. He reprised the role again in 1991, 2003 and 2015’s reboot, giving moviegoers one of the most quoted lines of all time; “I’ll be back”. Whilst Arnie is the ultimate action hero, he is also something of a career chameleon, and in 2003 he became the 38th Governor of California; serving for two terms until 2011. His next trick? Arnie will host and lead the weekly sackings on US show The Celebrity Apprentice, taking over from Donald Trump.

Harrison Ford
One of Hollywood’s most famous leading men started out life as a carpenter. George Lucas gave Harrison Ford  his first break with a small role in American Graffiti. Following that, when faced with a sick actor Lucas had him stand in to read lines for a film he was creating in 1977 called Star Wars. Ford impressed so much that Lucas gave him the role as Han Solo; a role which defined Ford’s career and undoubtedly catapulted him to become the star he is today – earning him the princely sum of $10,000 in the process! Ford continued to play Han Solo in every Star Wars movie (no doubt acquiring healthier pay packages) up to 2015’s The Force Awakens. Aside from Star Wars, Ford is best known as Indiana Jones; a role which started in 1981 and has spanned four films and counting, with the fifth instalment planned for release in July 2019. As well as being a hugely successful movie star, Ford is also a qualified pilot and has a collection of planes based in Santa Monica.

Mickey Rourke
Unlike the other stars on our list who turned to acting as a second career, Mickey Rourke – real name Philip Andre Rourke Jnr. – started off as an actor in the early 1980s, with roles in films such as the Charles Bukowski biopic, Barfly. Then, in 1991, Rourke turned his back on acting to become a full-time boxing professional. A stint of three years in the ring pushed Rourke back to his first love, and on he worked until he hit the big time in 2005’s dark thriller Sin City, and 2008’s The Wrestler. The latter earned him numerous accolades, including a BAFTA, Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. Rourke is also a passionate dog lover; having owned numerous Chihuahuas, so much so, that in his 2009 Golden Globes acceptance speech Rourke attributed his success to his four-legged friends.

Jason Statham
Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley’s beau is not just a pretty face. The Derbyshire-born actor has many talents; and being a top sportsman is one of them. Most know Jason Statham as the star of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), The Transporter trilogy (2002 – 2008) and, of course, the Fast & Furious franchise. However a lesser known fact is that Statham started out as a footballer and diver, being introduced to the former through his old friend, Vinnie Jones. His dedication to and prowess for diving grew, earning him a place on GB’s National Diving Squad for 12 years and a spot at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. Statham’s diving-honed physique then caught the eye of fashion brand French Connection, whom Statham went on to model for before starting his hugely successful movie career.