The path to becoming a movie star isn’t a clear-cut one. Many actors over the years have transitioned from completely different careers to taking their place in front of a camera. From stand-up comedians to singers who became great actors, no path is the same, yet many may share similarities. For some, modeling was their jumping point into the limelight. While it may seem like an easy switch, moving from still photography to live-action scenes with dialogue can be a difficult feat. However, these former models have all managed to grow their skill sets and become some of Hollywood’s favorite thespians.
8 Diane Kruger
Best known for her role in Troy as Helen, Diane Kruger was once a high fashion model in Germany after an injury forced her to retire early from ballet. At the suggestion of screenwriter and producer Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Lucy, and Nikita), she began her transition into acting. Her first major role — after portraying the woman whose face launched a thousand ships — was in the 2004 adventure film, National Treasure as Abigail Chase. This led to a sequel and many other characters for her to play even though, according to People, some auditions were quite uncomfortable for her. She even took on the challenge of working with Quentin Tarantino for Inglorious Bastards as Bridget von Hammersmark. Here, she took method acting to a whole new level when she allowed the director to strangle her until she lost consciousness to make the scene look more authentic.
7 Channing Tatum
Hailing from a small town in Alabama, Channing Tatum has become a very popular actor after a string of jobs that didn’t quite satisfy him. What propelled his career in the entertainment industry was his stint with modeling. Featured in campaigns for Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, American Eagle, Pepsi, and more, his first appearances were in television commercials. With a background in both sports and dance, he managed to snag roles in films such as Coach Carter and Step Up. He even had the opportunity to take on a more serious role in the Nicholas Sparks film, Dear John. However, one of his most notable roles was in the 2012 film, Magic Mike, which is in the process of getting a third film titled Magic Mike’s Last Dance. His most recent films to hit theaters include Dog and The Lost City alongside Sandra Bullock.
6 Pamela Anderson
Best known for her long-standing role on the hit 90s TV show, Baywatch, Pamela Anderson is another model who was able to make the switch into acting. Originally from British Columbia, Canada, she got her start on family-friendly television shows like Home Improvement. A former gymnast in high school, she was later able to show off some of her athletic skills in features films such as Barb Wire. However, many of her roles have been based in comedies such as Scary Movie 3, Stacked, and Blonde and Blonder. Although she has consciously taken a step back from the spotlight in recent years, the release of the Hulu series, Pam & Tommy, has brought her life back into the public eye. Rumors of a documentary are circulating around social media platforms, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
5 Halle Berry
After winning the title of First Runner-Up for the 1986 Miss U.S.A. Pageant as Miss Ohio, Halle Berry was able to find work as a model easily. Grabbing the attention of casting directors, she began snatching up roles in popular films throughout the 90s. Some of these include The Flintstones, Solomon & Sheba, and Losing Isaiah. At the dawn of the new millennia, she secured a recurring role in the original X-Men films as Storm. She then took home an Academy Award for her role in Monster Ball, which then led her to other iconic performances such as Catwoman, Gothika, and Cloud Atlas. Her most recent film, The Mothership, is currently in post-production and is set to release sometime in 2022.
4 Eddie Redmayne
Although he studied drama from a young age, Eddie Redmayne was first placed in front of a camera during his teenage modeling years. Some of his first notable roles include the 2012 film, Les Misérables, and the 2015 romance known as The Danish Girl. His portrayal of Lili and her journey as a trans woman earned him an Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor. However, most fans will recognize him from the Harry Potter spin-off, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This Potterverse film sparked a whole new series with Redmayne revising his role as Newt Scamander each time. The third installment, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, has recently been completed and is set to release on April 15, 2022.
3 Milla Jovovich
Becoming a professional model at the tender age of 12, Milla Jovovich has been in front of a camera lens for most of her life. She was featured in Revlon’s “Most Unforgettable Women in the World” campaign, and she has appeared on the cover of hundreds of international magazines including Vogue and Cosmopolitan. Modeling for Dior, Versace, Calvin Klein, Armani, and many more, her success in the fashion world is quite noticeable. She landed many television guest appearances until she was finally cast in the iconic film, The Fifth Element. Later, she portrayed Katinka in the 2001 comedy, Zoolander, alongside Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Will Ferrell. However, the Ukrainian-born actress’s most notable role is as Alice in the Resident Evil franchise. With six Resident Evil films, this series has become the most successful and profitable science fiction horror series in cinematic history.
2 Charlize Theron
Originally from South Africa, Charlize Theron got her start in modeling after a knee injury stopped her from performing ballet. After moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a print/commercial model, she was discovered by an acting agent in line at a local bank. Because the teller refused to cash her out-of-state check, she made a scene – which ended up being the best thing to ever happen for her career. Her first major role was in the 1995 film, Mighty Joe Young. Several years later, she earned an Academy Award for her stunning performance as Aileen in Monster. Other incredible works in her filmography include Prometheus, Mad Max: Fury Road, Snow White and the Huntsman, Atomic Blonde, and Old Guard. As of now, Atomic Blond 2 and Old Guard 2 are currently in production.
1 Cara Delevingne
Hailing from London, Cara Delevingne is another model turned actor who managed to make the switch effortlessly. She has landed campaigns for Burberry, Chanel, and Zara, and she has walked the runway in shows for Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Oscar de la Renta, and more. She even won the title Model of the Year at the 2012 British Fashion Awards. Her first acting role was as Princess Sorokina in the 2012 film Anna Karenina. However, most fans will recognize her as June Moone or the Enchantress from Suicide Squad. Many musicians such as Taylor Swift and Die Antwoord have had her appear in their music videos, and she was the face of a Jimmy Choo campaign in 2017. As of now, she is currently working on two films titled Tell It Like a Woman and Punk.