50 Stunning Models Turned Actors

Liv Tyler

The Model: Liv Tyler started modelling at 14, but got bored of it after a year and decided to pursue acting with no formal training.

Acting Career: An Aerosmith music video with Alicia Silverstone gave her acting career a kick-start and not long after, a starring role in Empire Records happened in 1995.

More Than Set Dressing? She hasn’t been over-reliant on her looks, although One Night at McCools did position her as the object of three mens’ lust. Brought an ethereal quality to Arwen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

James Marsden

The Model: Before he was shooting lasers out of his eyes in X-Men , James Marsden was a Versace model.

Acting Career: Cyclops in X-Men has been the role that’s made him a star. Despite the fact that no one really likes Cyclops, even though he’s a good guy.

More Than Set Dressing? Not only an actor, he’s got a lovely singing voice too appearing on the Hairspray and Enchanted soundtrack. Definitely the wholesome sort you could happily take home to meet your mother.

Gemma Ward

The Model: Gemma Ward was modelling for Australian Fashion Week at the age of 15, and at 17 bumped Kate Moss out of the way in landing a Calvin Klein perfume contract.

Acting Career: Australian drama The Black Balloon brought her to acting prominence in 2008, and she has since played a murderous mermaid in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and recently had a small part in The Great Gatsby .

More Than Set Dressing? She was nominated for best actress awards for The Black Balloon , but her forays into Hollywood have so far been dependent on her indisputable beauty.

Marisa Miller

The Model: In 2008 Miller starred in an advert for Guitar Hero that was banned from UK television screens for being too overtly sexual. Spoilsports.

Acting Career: She’s getting her film debut by playing the earthly body that Jeff Bridges inhabits in R.I.P.D. (If that makes sense.) If all goes well there, who knows what other male Hollywood stars she could be doubling for?

More Than Set Dressing?
With only one film to her name it’s too early to tell, but she hasn’t trained as an actress and at this stage she is much better known for swimwear modelling than reciting Shakespeare.

Brooklyn Decker

The Model: Brooklyn Decker has worked for Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated. Being chosen as the cover star of the 2010 swimsuit issue made her name.

Acting Career: Got her film debut in the 2011 Adam Sandler comedy Just Go With It , as his love interest, the lucky lady. Her films have so far not been blowing critics away, as she followed up with What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Battleship .

More Than Set Dressing? She’s been going for the comedy roles so far, with appearances in Ugly Betty and New Girl , which echoes how Cameron Diaz got started as an actress.

Estella Warren

The Model: Former Canadian synchronized swimming champion, Warren was ‘discovered’ as a model in 1994. Maxim magazine made her their Hottest Woman of 2000.

Acting Career: 2001’s Planet of the Apes was her big break, but it never really translated into long-term acting success. She’s avoided the auspicious honour of the Golden Rapsberry that has befallen many a former model, but she’s never needed to prepare any acceptance speeches of the good kind either.

More Than Set Dressing? Despite a small role in 2003’s underrated The Cooler and a smattering of TV appearances, her childhood synchronised swimming schedule probably didn’t leave much time for acting lessons.

Molly Sims

The Model: Sims made it big as a swimwear model for Sports Illustrated. In the 2006 issue, she appeared wearing a $30 million diamond bikini.

Acting Career: Playing Vince Vaughan’s wife in Starsky and Hutch and then followed it up with a Rob Schneider comedy, The Bench Warmers . She was clearly new to the acting business. But, she was in all five seasons of TV series Las Vegas , as the daughter of James Caans’ Ed.

More Than Set Dressing? She’s stuck to comedy as an actress, often a wise move for a former model with no real training. But this also means we never get to find out if she could tread the boards with the best of them.

Carmen Electra

The Model: Beginning as a dancer, Carmen Electra had a brief singing career before finding her niche as a playboy model.

Acting Career: She had a stint in Baywatch in 1997 but seems to have a special talent for appearing in movies which include the word ‘movie’ in the title e.g. Scary Movie, Date Movie and Epic Movie .

More Than Set Dressing? Perhaps her comic timing has kept made sure she gets plenty of work, but there is usually an excuse for her not to wear very much in the way of clothes too.

Jenny McCarthy

The Model: As a glamour model, Jenny McCarthy’s peak of success came when she won 1994 Playmate of The Year.

Acting Career: Much like another Playboy star, Carmen Electra, McCarthy stuck with comedies during her acting ‘heyday’ the pick of the bunch being Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Baseketball in 1998.

More Than Set Dressing? She’s not ranged far beyond ditzy damsel in distress or sexy blonde-lady roles so, no. However, the nostalgic (and old enough) may remember that she had a stint presenting Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast in 1997.

Josh Holloway

The Model: Before Sawyer (on Lost ), he spent a lot of time traveling around North America and Europe as a model for Dolce and Gabbana.

Acting Career:
Sporadic minor TV and film roles were all he could get until Lost came along in 2004. Before long he was OK! Magazine’s 17th sexiest man in the world in 2006. What more could a man want?

More Than Set Dressing? He hasn’t let being the 17th sexiest man in the world in 2006 go to his head, but he’s not had a great deal of work since Lost either, although a Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol cameo was notable - and Paranoia with Gary Oldman and Harrison ford later this year sounds exciting.

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.