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Grappling with Stardom

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Hulk Hogan is living, lumbering proof that professional wrestlers really are actors. So it’s no wonder that a handful of other turnbucklers have tried -with some wins and some losses-to pin down choice screen roles. Andre the Giant Aided by his 7-foot-4-inch, 520-pound frame, Andre (ne Roussimoff) essayed the role of the gentle giant in his one and only movie before his death last year. As Fezzik in Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride, Andre plays the resident goon in a band of thieves who kidnap the titular royal. Though he experiences some problems with enunciation, the big man pulls off this challenging role with energetic poise.

Jesse ”The Body” Ventura This husky-voiced bruiser has procured more roles in higher-profile films than any of his colleagues, most notably as the tobacco- spitting Blain in Predator. In another Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, The Running Man, he plays the publicly adored killer Captain Freedom. Since then, Ventura has been cast in a string of B-movie roles, including the lead in Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe, while remaining a TV commentator for World Championship Wrestling.

”Rowdy” Roddy Piper While hardly the most talented of the bunch, the wily Scotsman does utter the best line ever by a wrestler-turned-actor. As a muscle-bound drifter in John Carpenter’s science-fiction satire, They Live, Piper offers this tidy bon mot: ”I came here to chew some gum and kick some ass, and I’m fresh out of gum.” He’s less charming in Hell Comes to Frogtown, in which he fails to convince as a sexually potent felon.

Jim Hellwig Formerly known as the Ultimate Warrior, the aptly named Hellwig (see photo) made his movie debut in Firepower. He casually handles the role of a quiet, tonsorially perverse swordsman. That is not terribly difficult, since he has no lines. And despite Hellwig’s best efforts, he cannot even wield his blade persuasively.

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