It’s every kid’s dream to get that casting call and make it to Hollywood. Though that dream is practically impossible, some people hold onto it anyway, while others let it go. Others, still, happen to fall into acting almost by accident. The people on this list had talent that luckily found its way to the silver screen to make history in some amazing performances.
Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips (2013)
Abdi was born in Mogadishu, Banaadir, but once the Somali Civil War broke out, his family moved to Yemen. After a few years in Yemen, they moved stateside to Minnesota where there is a large Somali community. Abdi went to school there and worked part time as a limo driver and selling cell phones until his big break
That break—and his first step into the film world—was the role inCaptain Phillips, which he got by answering a large casting call. He auditioned several times and ultimately landed the role along with four other Somalis. In a 2013 interview with The Today Show, he says that he actually ad-libbed what would become the most famous line in the film: “Look at me. I am the captain now.”
Vinnie Jones – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Jones was 33-years-old when he made his film debut in Lock, Stock and his acting was spot on. He became an instant hit with his famous one-liners and intimidating comedy. He went on to star in massive hits likeX-Men and Gone in 60 Seconds.
Danny Trejo – Runaway Train (1985)
Ray Allen – He Got Game (1998)
Ray Allen was a professional basketball player at the time but the role wasn’t his at first. Spike Lee offered it to Kobe Bryant, who was interested, until Bryant had a horrible playoff showing and ultimately turned it down to focus on basketball. Kobe was a rookie and was only 19-years-old, straight out of high school, so it was too much to take on, whereas Allen was already comfortable in the NBA.
Andre the Giant – The Princess Bride (1987)
Andre the Giant accepted the role as his wrestling days were basically finished due to injuries. He had acted a couple of times before but this was the biggest role so far and definitely the most memorable.
In a 2014 interview with Vanity Fair, Cary Elwes, who played Westley, says Andre was a great guy who never missed a line and never showed up late, despite everyone knew the whole time how much pain he was in. Being 7’4″ (according to the WWE website) and over 500 pounds—plus years of being hit with chairs, and wooden planks, and jumping from the ropes—was ultimately too much for his body. He died of congestive heart failure in 1993.