Clooney. Hanks. Day-Lewis.
All of these are purebred names in the profession of acting today, and none of them can even touch the athletes we’re about to discuss—presumably because they'd be afraid poor acting is contagious.
The following are athletes who ended up in front of the camera and managed to pulled off some awful but amazing work. They tried their best, but unfortunately the academy doesn’t give out awards for being deliciously terrible on the big screen (that's the Razzies).
They’re so bad, they’re good—and in the spirit of recognizing their contributions to cinema (and television), I’ve broken down some of the best of the worst. I even found (read: made up) transcripts of deleted scenes and alternate endings from their various cinematic masterpieces.
So butter some popcorn, because it’s time for some awesomely terrible athlete acting, ranked from least cheesily awesome to most cheese-tastic.
Ballplayer-turned-sportscaster Bob Uecker deserves some kind of medal for all his screwy, perfectly Ueck-ish roles. From Mr. Belvedere to Major League and his work promoting the Milwaukee Admirals, he’s always overcome his shortcomings on the stage with brute enthusiasm.
God bless you, Bob.
Uecker: We are smoking cigars, and standing in the rain! Good times, right?
Mr. Belvedere: Indeed, it really is too bad you know...
Uecker: What’s that?
Mr. Belvedere: That I’m a Russian spy.
(Injects Uecker with knockout formula, Season 2 of The Americans begins)
If you didn’t know already, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain were teammates of Mia Hamm on the US Women’s National soccer team. Chastain is most remembered for freaking everyone out by whipping her jersey off after a scoring the winning goal in 1999 Women’s World Cup because my god, not a sports bra!
A lesser known fact is that their acting skills could make a young Ben Affleck blush. As they say in this television spot, they’re “bad.” Or awful.
Eddie Griffin: (pops out from behind a dumpster) “Grits ‘N Gravy—Kansas City, Missouri.”
Julie and Brandi: “Hi, Grits!”
It’s funny now hearing Lance Armstrong talk about making decisions that will haunt someone forever. It's so humorous that you almost forget the disgraced Tour de France champion is pushing through these lines at breakneck speed.
Slow down and breathe, Lance. I know you’re amped up on the “supplements,” but calm down.
Lance: “I hope one day these words don’t turn around and bite me in the butt.”
Vince Vaughn: (Looks up) “Why are you still here?”
I will bet my first- and second-born children Ryan Howard did not write this “Ode to the Subway Big Philly Cheesesteak.”
On the other hand, I will NOT bet against the Phillies first baseman's ability to artlessly blunder through a goofy poetry reading about a cheesesteak, which is ironic considering the big man most likely harbors a deep and powerful love for these sandwiches.
When the cameras are rolling, it’s best to let Metta World Peace just be himself.
Trying to feed him lines like in this iCell commercial will only result in highly forced dialogue where he can barely keep himself from laughing.
Metta World Peace: “I can dunk with this watch...defend with it...and won’t break down when I forget it’s a watch and try to eat it.”
Chris Bosh’s girlfriend wants vodka, but the third wheel of Miami's "Big Three" will barely speak loud enough to be heard until you get her it. It was a weak, and fortunately short cameo for Bosh in Entourage, and just another indication of how far the show had fallen toward the end of its run.
Here’s a deal, Chris. I’ll give you $1,000 for some acting lessons if you star in Jurassic Park IV.
Turtle: So what’s it like playing for the Heat?
Turtle: “Shouldn't have asked...”
We all know that Marshawn Lynch loves two things in this world: chain restaurants and “Plaaaytiiiiiiime.”
The former Buffalo Bills (now Seattle Seahawks) running back delivers solid gold in this Kenny Mayne bit, and his painfully rigid enthusiasm is just the icing on the tacos.
Lynch: “You can’t forget about the Club, baby. Bring your VIP card if you’re headed to the club!”
Kenny Mayne Voiceover: “Marshawn spends four to 12 hours a week eating free samples and building box forts inside the local Sam’s Club, where he is a premium member...”
Short, sweet and to the point, Joe Flacco’s “Flacco Favorites” commercial for Pizza Hut was piled high with tremulous dialogue, uncomfortable body language and football puns.
It was a buffet for the senses, with all the sadness of a parent taking their children to Pizza Hut during “their weekend with the kids.”
“Don’t forget to come in for ‘The Flacco Father’s Day Feast’ this June, where I—Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco—will watch you and your father not talk a whole lot and eat.”
Dikembe Mutombo’s recent GEICO commercial is a jewel in an otherwise barren landscape of overwrought, try-hard commercials.
That being said, the former NBA shot-blocker extraordinaire and his raspy voice will never win any “Best Supporting Actor" awards any time soon.
Mutombo: (Blocks tithe going into church collection plate) “Not today!”
(Lightning cracks, Mutombo disappears down into Hell where the devil is leaning on a black throne).
Devil: (Pours himself a cup of coffee) “I knew one day you’d get sloppy, Mutombo...”
Warning: Video features some language.
Some of you may not know this, but Sea Bass from Dumb and Dumber is Cam Neely, a former NHL winger who played for the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins.
For some reason (I’ll assume he was Jim Carrey’s buddy), Neely was offered the role in the movie and he truly went for it—but knowing he's a pro hockey player really changes the dynamic of this scene.
There’s already a deleted scene involving Sea Bass, and it’s great. And probably NSFW.
Hulk Hogan has done a lot of garbage acting in his day, but the pro wrestler’s magnum opus was his role in the highly acclaimed 1993 masterwork Mr. Nanny.
Two actors were nominated for awards for this movie; both of them were under 10 years of age. The tagline says all I could ever say about this movie:
“He’s big. He’s bad, and he’s babysitting. He doesn’t stand a chance.”
Hogan: “Special new pre-workout powder? Thanks, kids!” (Drinks it, starts turning purple). “Woaahhh noooo!!”
He’s a super bad quarterback and he just doesn’t have time for all this lame “taking accountability for his children” garbage!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has become (somewhat) better at acting, which is good considering it’s virtually all he does anymore. That being said, those first few years featured some grim roles that you should bring up should you ever find yourself losing an argument with The Rock.
“Yeah, well maybe global warming is real, but you starred in The Game Plan. So no one has to listen to a damn thing you say ever.”
The Rock: “You replaced my insulin with glitter??”
(The Rock faints, “Surfin’ Bird” by The Trashmen starts playing)
Everyone’s favorite bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a man of many trades.
And in spite of his many entertaining roles, he’ll never be able to beat his pun-tastically ridiculous 1997 rendition of Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin.
Schwarzenegger: “GET TO DA COOLAH!” (Flies off in hovercraft, "Cotton Eye Joe" begins playing).
So he’s awful at coming off as a threatening trash talker, but Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a Triple-A Certified idiot savant in his portrayal of himself (attempting to be someone else) in Airplane!
He was the original dude playin’ a dude, disguised as another dude.
Clarence: “Joey, have you ever seen the whites of a man’s right before you-” (Kareem interrupts).
Kareem: “Clarence, maybe it’s time to stop telling Joey Vietnam stories and feeding him Werther’s Originals?”
Confession: Space Jam saved my life.
Every time I’ve needed a smile, Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes have come to my rescue.
Jordan did as well as he was going to do acting-wise in Space Jam, and I love him for that—but I’ve come to terms with the fact that he probably didn't deserve an Oscar for his role.
What I can’t forgive the Academy for, however, is snubbing Muggsy Bogues for best line of all time. Muggsy loves his momma!
Charles Barkley: “So you say if I touch this glowing ball I get my powers back?”
(Shaq kicks in the door)
Shaq: “Yeah, but you still ugly!” (Steals the ball and jumps into a warp tunnel to another dimension, laughing crazily)
Jordan: “I guess this means we’re not done yet...” (Jumps in after Shaq)
Kazaam was a miracle and a personal inspiration for me as a child, but never did I realize exactly how bad Shaquille O’Neal was in this film.
The rapping while acting might’ve been a lofty goal for O’Neal, who was good at neither.
Shaq: “I am Kazaam, and you’re just a rag. You try to be bad, but I know that you’re sad—you ain’t even my real dad.”
Kid: “Do you even know whose lines are whose anymore?"
Shaq: (Jumps on flying rug) “Thundercats HOOOO!” (Flies off).
Did you say you wanted Dennis Rodman AND Dane Cook in a summer blockbuster??
No, you didn’t, but it happened anyway in Simon Sez (the “sez” is in there because this is a movie for cool kids, and because correct spelling is for tattletales and paleontologists).
Dane Cook: What if the President is a confederate, and nothing is what it seems?
First, some amazing lines from this preview of Firestorm, a 1998 movie where former NFL defensive end Howie Long plays "Jesse," a firefighting smoke jumper:
“In case you haven’t noticed, we’re not firemen.”
“You are pissing me off!”
“Hey, smoke jumpaah! You still aliiiive?!”
That’s what Howie Long is in this movie—a freakin’ “smoke jumper.” I didn’t even know that was a job title, but Long plays the craftiest smoke jumper alive in Firestorm, and when things aren’t exploding, falling or being ripped apart by chainsaws, his terrible acting shines through.
Bad Guy: "Only I can prevent forests!"
Long: “Surf's up, bro.” (Drops water from helicopter)
“He was a maverick on the run, until The Man offered to cut a deal...this summer...Brian Bosworth is going...Straight to Video.”
Brian Bosworth tried, but the former NFL linebacker/Butkus award winner couldn’t have delivered a convincing line if it was covered in gift wrap for his role in the 1991 home video Stone Cold.
Bosworth played Joe Huff, a “tough, go-it-alone cop with a flair for infiltrating dangerous biker gangs,” a role that earned him a Razzie nomination for “Worst New Star.”
“They call me...The Boz.” (Throws match into gasoline trail, abandoned caramel apple factory explodes).
Ever wanted to see a racist white man have his head attached to a black ex-con?
Grier was a Pro Bowl defensive tackle in the '50s before leaving the league to become an actor. As you can see, that career bore some awkward fruit.
Racist White Guy: “There’s no way we’re getting out of this scrape alive, Rosey.”
Grier: “Not if I can help it, baby.” (Guns motorcycle over dunes, evades attackers and builds them a fire on the beach)
Racist White Guy: “You know, that wasn't half bad back there, Rosey.” (Both smile)