50 Stunning Models Turned Actors

Jennifer Connelly

The Model: Connelly responded to an advert for the Ford Modeling Agency when she was just 10 years old, and appeared in numerous magazine and TV adverts. She graced the cover of Seventeen magazine five times.

Acting Career: Success in the early ‘80s made Connelly one to watch, with roles in Once Upon A Time In America , Phenomena and Labyrinth . After middling reviews throughout the ‘90s, she came back with a vengeance in the Noughties, shocking with Requiem For A Dream and landing an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind .

More Than Set Dressing? Connelly loves to dig deep into her characters, meaning she’s more than just a pretty prop.

Ian Somerhalder

The Model: He moved on from modelling by the time he was 13, having been a child model from the age of 10.

Acting Career: The Rules of Attraction was his first big film role, and he was Boone in the first series of Lost , meaning he was in the series that everyone actually watched.

More Than Set Dressing? With cheekbones that could cut through steel, he’s mainly been given pretty-boy roles. Recently he’s been vamping it up as handsome bloodsucker Damon Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries .

Jane Fonda

The Model: Fonda ditched college in favour of modelling, appearing on the cover of Vogue magazine during her time as a celebrated beauty queen.

Acting Career: With an acting career spanning 50 years, Fonda’s been involved in all kinds of projects. Most memorably, she played the title role of Barbarella , and won her first Oscar in 1971 for Klute .

More Than Set Dressing? Feisty and opinionated, Fonda may have been a sexy ‘60s clothes horse, but there’s more to her than just that.

Julianne Moore

The Model: Moore was a model before she landed a role on soap opera As The World Turns.

Acting Career: A mixed bag. Moore’s brought a fragile beauty and magnetic presence to many a film, but the films themselves have generally been either fantastic or awful, with little in the middle. Highlights include Boogie Nights , Far From Heaven and The Big Lebowski . Low points include Savage and Blindness .

More Than Set Dressing? No matter what the material, Moore is almost always the best thing about the films she’s in.

Rachel Weisz

The Model: Weisz became a model at the tender age of 14 before heading over to tread a few boards in the theatre.

Acting Career: Weisz’s breakthrough came in the form of 1999’s The Mummy , which cast her as a snippy, intelligent librarian opposite Brendan Fraser's hero. She returned for the film’s first sequel (but not the dire second), and earned indie credit with Beautiful Creatures .

More Than Set Dressing? Interesting film choices like The Fountain and My Blueberry Nights mean that Weisz clearly has a decent head on her shoulders.

Kelly Brook

The Model: Winning a beauty competition aged 16 tipped Brook into a modelling career, and the luscious one soon became a Page Three girl before posing for lad rags like Playboy , Loaded and FHM .

Acting Career: Sadly, Brook has been unable to translate her modelling successes to the big screen, starring in a string of duds. Those include The Italian Job remake, Romy And Michele: In The Beginning , and Cannes bellyflop Fishtales .

More Than Set Dressing? Piranha 3D pretty much answers that one, the gory remake spending most of its time caressing Brook’s body instead of telling a story.

Elizabeth Hurley

The Model: Hurley’s worked for Estée Lauder for 16 years, first signing a contract in 1995. She was their ‘face’ for years, and continues to work for the company behind the scenes.

Acting Career: Hurley’s had numerous hits and flops, starring in Bedazzled , Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery , EDtv and Mickey Blue Eyes . She most recently took a role in David E Kelley’s aborted new Wonder Woman TV series.

More Than Set Dressing? Her delivery errs on the side of wooden, but she's generally a fun, feisty presence. Hurley’s definitely more than a walking pair of legs – shame the films don’t really reflect that.

Channing Tatum

The Model: Before the modelling career began, Tatum had worked as a stripper and appeared in the Ricky Martin music video 'She Bangs'. As a model he worked for Armani and Pepsi, among others.

Acting Career: Suprisingly, 2006’s She’s The Man was not an instant springboard to fame. GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra went a lot further to making Channing Tatum a household name.

More Than Set Dressing?
He hasn’t strayed far from the safe-ground of action and comedy so far. However, his performance in Magic Mike was well received, and it was loosely based on his experiences as a stripper.

Lily Cole

The Model: A chance encounter in Soho when she was 14 started her on the path to modelling stardom and she had her first Vogue cover at 16.

Acting Career: Beginning with St Trinians and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the prominence of her on-screen roles has gradually increased. In 2012 she played Greta in Snow White and The Huntsman

More Than Set Dressing? Her acting career is ticking over nicely, with a role planned in Marilyn Manson’s Phantasmagoria horror fantasy with Tilda Swinton. And she’s set up her own social-networking site (www.impossible.com), getting advice for it from the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales.

Lily Collins

The Model: Another English Lily, she was picked by Spain’s Glamour magazine as their international model of the year in 2008.

Acting Career: Played Snow White in Mirror Mirror and she could be about to go stellar if The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones replaces Twilight as the angsty-teen movie franchise of choice.

More Than Set Dressing? She’s won awards as a childrens’ TV presenter, but the way things are going for her, it’s unlikely she’ll be back introducing the latest episode of Spongebob Squarepants any time soon.

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.