From Bruce Willis in ‘Die Hard’ to Rob Schneider in everything…
Often when I watch old action films, I have two thoughts. One: Wow I totally forgot that person was in this. And two: why is this person in this? I realized that in most of my favorite flicks they have a casting choice that seemed surprising at the time and most of them still are surprising. So with that thought in mind I compiled my Top 5 list of most unlikely actors to be casted in an action movie.
80’s and 90’s Action Stars That Are Classically Trained Actors
1) Richard Dawson in The Running Man (1987)
First off, this is a film that also features Mick Fleetwood and Dweezil Zappa. The two of them don’t even turn your head like the host of Family Feud. Yes, he technically was in a few old war movies like The Devil’s Brigade and King Rat, but he will always be the smooth-talking game show host my Grandmother had a crush on. I’m not going to go as far as saying that it he was born for the role and he gave a perfect performance, the type that makes you think that there is no possible way you can ever top that performance so you might as well quit acting. But he did never act again after The Running Man. Just saying.
2) Wayne Newton in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990)
No this isn’t just a list of guys who my Grandmother had a crush on who played a villain in one of my favorite films. Or movies with surprise Rockstar cameos (Morris Day, Vince Neil, Sheila E and Tone Loc to name a few). Mr. Las Vegas makes this list because the guy that most of us knew for the song Danke Shoen in 1963, was notably the guy your parents would go see on Vacation while they played penny slots so they could get a free watered-down rum and diet. But then for some reason in 1990, someone thought “What if we make a film where Andrew Dice Clay fights Wayne Newton”? Then someone gave that dude money to make it happen!
3) Wilt Chamberlain in Conan the Destroyer (1984)
But Wilt was awesome in that film! And he was taller than Arnold! How can you say it was a surprise?! I agree. But name another film he was in. I’ll wait. And no, I don’t know if my Grandmother had a crush on Wilt. But 20,00 women tell me that she probably did.
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4) Rob Schneider in Knock Off (1998), Judge Dredd (1995), Demolition Man (1993) and Surf Ninjas (1993)
Were they comedic roles? Yup. Are you surprised every time you remember that Rob Schneider did two films with Stallone? Yup. Are you surprised that Knock Off is a film where Van Damme is a fashion designer who joins forces with the CIA to fight terrorism with the guy from Surf Ninjas? Yup! And are you surprised that Surf Ninjas is about a surfing teen and kid brother with super powers where one had the power of being a badass fighter and the other had the power to see the future in his Game Boy, and for some reason a 30-year-old Rob Schneider was their friend?
Probably not, it was the 90’s. Before you tell me Surf Ninjas wasn’t a Classic Action film, it was if you are in your mid 30’s and spent Friday nights at Blockbuster. Also Tone Loc was in Surf Ninjas. Also my Grandmother did not have a crush on The Animal.
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5) Bruce Willis in Die Hard (1988)
You need to remember that before Die Hard, Bruce Willis was known for the TV program Moon Lighting. The show where the most suspenseful plot was “Are they going to kiss ever”!?!?! Unless you happened to be watching TV in 1984 and caught Season One Episode 7 of Miami Vice and thought to yourself “That drug dealer who beats his wife would make a really good barefoot cop who throws guys out of windows”.
You didn’t. Also, fantastic episode, watch it. Matter a fact go binge Miami Vice after reading this. Not a movie, but if you’ve never watched it and like all these movies mentioned above, you’ll love it. Yes, my Grandmother had a crush on Bruno. If you don’t know what I mean by Bruno, check out the music video for Respect Yourself by Bruce Willis. Do it before the binge.
Article by – Kevin Cotter is Dad from NH who spends his spare time making wine, smoking meats and watching Action Films. Born the same year as The Terminator, Beverly Hills Cop, Red Dawn and Conan The Destroyer, is a great time to be alive!
What’s your favorite most unlikely action movie actor? Let us know in the comments!