50 Stunning Models Turned Actors

Monica Bellucci

The Model: Bellucci moved to Milan in 1989 where she was quickly signed on to Elite Model Management, posing for Dolce & Gabbana, as well as French Elle magazine.

Acting Career: Her most high profile role came in The Matrix Reloaded , though Bellucci garnered praise for her performances in L'Appartement and Irreversible . She also starred opposite Clive Owen in 2007’s Shoot ‘Em Up .

More Than Set Dressing? Frequently cast in roles that require great beauty, Bellucci’s often played the gorgeous girlfriend, but when given the chance, she can do so much more.

Cameron Diaz

The Model: Diaz entered the modelling industry aged 16, working around the world for agency Elite Model Management. She modelled for designers like Calvin Klein and Levi’s.

Acting Career: Making an unforgettable debut in The Mask (in that red dress), Diaz went from strength to strength, mixing romcoms with the odd offbeat drama ( Being John Malkovich ), and proved she can kick ass with the best of them in the Charlie’s Angels movies.

More Than Set Dressing? Bubbly and effervescent, Diaz never fails to light up a movie. So, yeah, half and half.

Mark Wahlberg

The Model: As Marky Mark (but without his Funky Bunch) he was a successful Calvin Klein model, appearing in adverts with Kate Moss.

Acting Career: To become a serious actor, he dropped the name Marky Mark and went back to plain old Mark Wahlberg. The Basketball Diaries in 1995 with Leonardo Di Caprio and Boogie Nights in 1997 suggested he would not be needing to collaborate with Hector the Booty Inspector again any time soon.

More Than Set Dressing? Twice Oscar nominated in the Supporting Actor category for The Departed and The Fighter , he’s proved he has the right stuff since being one of the original members of New Kids On The Block with older brother Donnie.

Angelina Jolie

The Model: Jolie modelled in LA, New York and London aged 14, and appeared in numerous music videos. She headed back to theatre at 16.

Acting Career: Jolie’s divided her time between explosive but often shallow action movies, and more interesting dramatic fare. She’s generally best when she plays down the sexuality (see below).

More Than Set Dressing? With films like Changeling , Girl, Interrupted and A Mighty Heart , Jolie proved she’s got heart to go with the hotness.

Olga Kurylenko

The Model: Ukrainian Kurylenko was discovered by a modelling scout when she was just 13 and holidaying in Moscow. Four years later she signed on to a French agency and appeared on the covers of Vogue and Elle .

Acting Career: Kurylenko broke into mainstream cinema with James Bond flick Quantum Of Solace , impressing as a battered young woman. Sadly, other forays in action cinema – Hitman , Max Payne – have been less impressive.

More Than Set Dressing? As a mute hunter in Centurion , Kurylenko showed she could use her looks as a weapon – emoting even without the use of words. Impressive.

Marilyn Monroe

The Model: Signed to the Blue Book Modeling Agency after being snapped by photographer David Conover, Monroe went on to become one of the agency’s most prized properties, flashing those pearly whites from numerous magazine covers.

Acting Career: A varied selection of romcoms and musicals, highlights including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Some Like It Hot. Her crippling stage fright meant she probably wasn’t best suited to such a high stress job.

More Than Set Dressing? The Asphalt Jungle marked Monroe out as more than the sum of her beautiful parts.

Jessica Lange

The Model: Lange worked as a model in 1973 for the Wilhelmina Models agency, using the money she earned there (and as a waitress) to pay for her acting lessons.

Acting Career: Lange debuted in the 1976 remake of King Kong , but the reviews were dreadful. Lange knocked the critics back, though, with her stellar turn in The Postman Always Rings Twice, going on to receive Oscar nominations for Frances and Tootsie . She eventually bagged the baldie for Blue Sky .

More Than Set Dressing? Lange’s devastating turn as a woman with mental illness in Blue Sky is proof of her talents in the acting department.

Kim Basinger

The Model: After competing in the national Junior Miss pageant aged 16, Basinger landed a contract with the Ford Modeling Agency. She became well known for the Breck Shampoo advert, and went to acting classes during her time as a model.

Acting Career: Numerous TV gigs led to Basinger’s casting as a prostitute in From Here To Eternity , but it was as a Bond girl in Never Say Never Again that got her noticed. Later, she appeared in saucy thriller 9½ Weeks and Tim Burton’s Batman .

More Than Set Dressing? Basinger received an Oscar nomination for her turn in L.A. Confidential. You can't walk over this cat.

Tyrese Gibson

The Model: His ‘discovery’ as a model happened as a youngster on a bus and in 1994 he sang in a Coca Cola advert.

Acting Career: He came to acting by way of his award-winning R&B career. An early career highlight must have been appearing in Hanging With Mr Cooper . Franchises Transformers and Fast and Furious have been putting bread on the Gibson table lately.

More Than Set Dressing? He hasn’t really stretched himself as an actor, bouncing back and forth between giant robots and souped-up cars.

Julia Roberts

The Model: Roberts followed her siblings to New York after graduating high school, dead set on acting. First, though, she signed on to the Clack modelling agency, which paid her bills for a bit.

Acting Career: Mystic Pizza in 1988 tipped Roberts into the spotlight, and her ascendant star kept on rising with films like Steel Magnolias and Pretty Woman . Now she’s mostly known for her romcoms.

More Than Set Dressing? Roberts is a magnetic screen presence, but she’s too often played it safe in the romantic comedy field.

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.