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03.20.2015by: Alex Maidy

Top 10 Most Unexpected Movie Badasses

THE GUNMAN opens today and could very well be the relaunch of Sean Penn's acting career. Instead of searing dramatic roles or teen comedies, Penn could be the next unexpected badass in Hollywood. As you can see from the image above, Penn would be joining a long list of actors who defied categorization by starring in some truly action-packed blockbusters. With that in mind, here is our ranking of the ten most unexpected badasses in Hollywood movie history. If your favorite surprise action star didn't make the cut, feel free to include it in the talk backs below.

#10 - Bruce Willis

Before you question this one, remember there was a time when Bruce Willis was known for playing romantic and comedic leads. No one thought DIE HARD would be more than the PAUL BLART of it's day, but it ended up becoming one of the most iconic action films of all time and redirecting Willis to a very different career than he started out with.

#9 - Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson has appeared in every conceivable genre, but after becoming an Oscar mainstay with his roles in SCHINDLER'S LIST, ROB ROY, MICHAEL COLLINS, and others, it never seemed like Neeson would switch gears and become an action hero. TAKEN started out looking like your typical Luc Besson action movie but surprised everyone by becoming a box office hit. Now, almost a decade later, Liam Neeson is synonymous with these movies and a particular set of skills.

#8 - Chloe Moretz

While it was her first major role, Chloe Moretz shocked everyone who saw KICK-ASS where she was the foul-mouthed Hit Girl. Comic fans knew what to expect, but it was still pretty spectacular seeing this little girl kill everyone and dropping f-bombs. Moretz has turned into a fine young actress but this will always be the role that cemented her as a badass.

#7 - Chris Pratt

The man who may be Indiana Jones blew everyone away with his starring role as Peter Quill in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and looks awesome in this summer's JURASSIC WORLD, but he was the dumb Andy on NBC's Parks and Recreation for years before that. The guy was a chubby moron that I don't think anyone expected to turn into the hottest movie star out there. The guy can literally do anything and that is going to make him a ton of money.

#6 - Linda Hamilton

The dramatic change in Linda Hamilton between THE TERMINATOR and TERMINATOR 2 is staggering. Going from victim to badass mom is one of the most impressive feats in any franchise. A mother determined to protect her son, Sarah Connor went from wallflower to total badass and ranks as one of the coolest of all time.

#5 - Matt Damon

The guy from GOOD WILL HUNTING seemed unlikely to be more than a dramatic star but THE BOURNE IDENTITY proved that Damon can kick ass with the best of them. He is still a fantastic dramatic and comedic actor, but he still manages to make a viable action star in movies like ELYSIUM and more.

#4 - Robert Downey Jr.

RDJ is another fan favorite who we are all happy to see as a success. After years of trouble with the law, Downey was a risky choice to play Tony Stark in IRON MAN. The guy was not known for being in action movies but single-handedly kickstarted the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Can we even imagine a movie world without Robert Downey Jr anymore?

#3 - Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver started her career with ALIEN but it was not until James Cameron's ALIENS that she got into full ass-kicking mode. In fact, between dramatic and romantic roles, Weaver made four ALIEN films, each one progressively upping her badass quotient. Weaver works steadily today but something tells me that she is going to kick major ass in Neill Blomkamp's ALIEN 5.

#2 - Geena Davis

You loved her in A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, BEETLEJUICE, THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, and many other movies, but in the 1990s, Geena Davis went full badass in THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT and CUTTHROAT ISLAND. Both movies were met with different levels of success but they briefly gave us one of the most badass heroines ever put on the big screen.

#1 - Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton reaches the top of this list because he became an unexpected badass twice in his career. The first was when he was cast as Batman in Tim Burton's 1989 superhero movie. Prior to that, Keaton was known for comedy and drama but became synonymous with being a superhero. Then, after a lull in his career, Keaton came roaring back with the brilliant and self-referential BIRDMAN. I fully expect to see a lot more of Keaton in the years to come.

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8:35AM on 03/21/2015

I would not pay money to see the HYPOCRITE Sean Penn shoot a gun if ScarJo was in the line handing out handies.

That POS will never get a penny from me.
I am old enough to remember seeing the trailer to Die Hard and turning to my buddy and saying "Bruce Willis, in an ACTION MOVIE???" I loved him in Moonlighting, and gave it a shot. Best action film of all time.
The Long Kiss Goodnight and Cutthroat Island were HORRIBLE and completely forgettable. I never thought I'd see either of them on a list that didn't have "WORST" in the title.
That POS will never get a penny from me.
I am old enough to remember seeing the trailer to Die Hard and turning to my buddy and saying "Bruce Willis, in an ACTION MOVIE???" I loved him in Moonlighting, and gave it a shot. Best action film of all time.
The Long Kiss Goodnight and Cutthroat Island were HORRIBLE and completely forgettable. I never thought I'd see either of them on a list that didn't have "WORST" in the title.
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3:48PM on 03/20/2015
The Long Kiss Goodnight is easily one of my favorite action films. So underrated.
The Long Kiss Goodnight is easily one of my favorite action films. So underrated.
Your Reply:



+1
1:25PM on 03/20/2015

How could we forget

Sir Ian McKellan.
Sir Ian McKellan.
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+1
1:16PM on 03/20/2015

Well.....other than the fact that the movie is....

.....laughably bad. Penn has made himself a hot button issue due to his borderline insanity and extreme Liberalism. He's another Hollywood half-wit who thinks he's a political science major. Anyone remember the time he took a boat to Katrina to save people and had to be rescued? A good actor who's turned himself into a joke due to his off-screen life.
.....laughably bad. Penn has made himself a hot button issue due to his borderline insanity and extreme Liberalism. He's another Hollywood half-wit who thinks he's a political science major. Anyone remember the time he took a boat to Katrina to save people and had to be rescued? A good actor who's turned himself into a joke due to his off-screen life.
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12:22PM on 03/20/2015
Good list but what about Kate Beckinsale, Keanu Reeves, or Daniel Craig???
Good list but what about Kate Beckinsale, Keanu Reeves, or Daniel Craig???
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10:20AM on 03/20/2015
Pretty decent list. What I find funny is someone mentioned (it escapes me where I read it) that Michael Keaton shouldn't have one the Oscar for Birdman because he was basically playing Michael Keaton to which I say, "Is that such a bad thing?"
Redvayne was more than deserving of the award, but at the same time Keaton has more than earned his due and I hope he gets another crack at it. The very least he should be given a lifetime achievement award...imho.
Pretty decent list. What I find funny is someone mentioned (it escapes me where I read it) that Michael Keaton shouldn't have one the Oscar for Birdman because he was basically playing Michael Keaton to which I say, "Is that such a bad thing?"
Redvayne was more than deserving of the award, but at the same time Keaton has more than earned his due and I hope he gets another crack at it. The very least he should be given a lifetime achievement award...imho.
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5:38AM on 03/20/2015

No Mark Wahlberg?!

SHAME! From a frickin' BOY BAND singer to being one of the most sought-after badasses in Hollywood...c'mon! And I'd hate to say it, but *WHAT* HAS GEENA DAVIS DONE LATELY!?!
SHAME! From a frickin' BOY BAND singer to being one of the most sought-after badasses in Hollywood...c'mon! And I'd hate to say it, but *WHAT* HAS GEENA DAVIS DONE LATELY!?!
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2:37PM on 03/21/2015
I don't think he's so unlikely. When they cast him in Four Brothers John Singleton said it's because he's the only white guy who can claim to have grown up as hard as he did. Plus he's usually jacked regardless of what he's in.
I don't think he's so unlikely. When they cast him in Four Brothers John Singleton said it's because he's the only white guy who can claim to have grown up as hard as he did. Plus he's usually jacked regardless of what he's in.
2:50AM on 03/20/2015

Honorable Mentions

Nicolas Cage: He went from Honeymooon in Vegas and Raising Arizona, to any and every action movie he can get his hands on. Whether his action movies are any good is irrelevant, he's an action star.
Shia LaBeouf: Started off on a Disney Channel sitcom, ended up doing Fury, Indiana Jones, and 3 Transformers
Ryan Reynolds: Started on a Nickelodeon sitcoms, his breakout movie was Van Wilder, not very action packed.
Joseph Gordon Levitt: Still hard to think of him as an action start
Channing
Nicolas Cage: He went from Honeymooon in Vegas and Raising Arizona, to any and every action movie he can get his hands on. Whether his action movies are any good is irrelevant, he's an action star.
Shia LaBeouf: Started off on a Disney Channel sitcom, ended up doing Fury, Indiana Jones, and 3 Transformers
Ryan Reynolds: Started on a Nickelodeon sitcoms, his breakout movie was Van Wilder, not very action packed.
Joseph Gordon Levitt: Still hard to think of him as an action start
Channing Tatum, Mark Walberg, and Jason Statham has jobs before hollywood that are far from explosions (Exotic Dancer, Pop star, and Competitive Diver respectively)
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10:12AM on 03/20/2015
Well researched...nicely done!
Well researched...nicely done!
2:32AM on 03/20/2015
Fun Fact: Liam Neeson once turned own playing James Bond because he didnt want to be typecast playing action movies. (it went to Pierce Brosman that time)
Fun Fact: Liam Neeson once turned own playing James Bond because he didnt want to be typecast playing action movies. (it went to Pierce Brosman that time)
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2:32AM on 03/20/2015
Fun Fact: Liam Neeson once turned own playing James Bond because he didnt want to be typecast playing action movies. (it went to Pierce Brosman that time)
Fun Fact: Liam Neeson once turned own playing James Bond because he didnt want to be typecast playing action movies. (it went to Pierce Brosman that time)
Your Reply:



+1
1:23AM on 03/20/2015
Don't forget his other amazing role as the bad guy in Pacific Heights. He was so damn good in that. Keaton is the man.
Don't forget his other amazing role as the bad guy in Pacific Heights. He was so damn good in that. Keaton is the man.
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9:58AM on 03/20/2015
Such an underrated film. He did that in between the Batman's and he killed it.
Such an underrated film. He did that in between the Batman's and he killed it.

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