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10 Unlikely Action Leads That Blew Audiences Away With Their Performance

The summer blockbuster season is upon audiences and from Benedict Cumberbatch to Charlize Theron, there are plenty of actors demonstrating their action talents, who might have otherwise been underestimated. Across cinema history, that’s quite a common occurrence, with performances putting the audience’s doubts to rest.

These actors likely established themselves in comedy, sitcom, drama, or romance roles and thus were deemed unable to move into the realm of the action blockbuster. Yet, in every case, they have proven those opinions completely wrong and are now held up as icons of the genre, or at the very least, actors who really can do anything.

Keanu Reeves
John Wick 3 Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves is usually seen as one of the best action stars of the modern age. The Matrix truly helped to define him in that position, but John Wick has only further established the actor’s talents when it comes to mastering complex choreography and adding genuine emotional depth to a blockbuster role.

RELATED: 10 Action Movies Turning 10 In 2022

Keanu Reeves shot to fame thanks to the success of Bill And Ted. He was largely seen as a comedic actor; goofy and certainly not a serious lead in any capacity. He managed to completely shift that perception and while he continues to take on hilarious parts, he doesn’t shy away from grit and drama as well.

Bob Odenkirk
Bob Odenkirk in Nobody

Bob Odenkirk’s Nobody has established the actor in a new light. It very much feels in the style of a John Wick, although combines gritty realism with a little bit of Hollywood edge. Ultimately it’s a fantastic flick with Odenkirk transforming himself for the part and embodying physicality audiences hadn’t seen from him.

Odenkirk’s comedic work already speaks for itself, but his time as the slightly cowardly con-man, Saul Goodman, in the Breaking Bad universe, really led to him being typecasted. Nobody would have thought that Odenkirk had this kind of skill set in his arsenal, but he’s proven those doubters wrong.

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren in Red 2

Helen Mirren has leaped into every genre, picking up plenty of awards along the way. From Shakespearean plays to portraying the Queen, Mirren has done it all. There’s one aspect of her career that people wouldn’t have ever thought would surface; a set of action roles. But Mirren has somehow established herself in that realm as well.

She’s even part of major franchises like The Fast And The Furious, because of her ability to shift into any character. It’s RED and RED 2 that probably demonstrated that despite what may be perceived about her, Helen Mirren is entirely capable of launching into successful action series, taking on everything expected of her and more.

Ryan Reynolds
Deadpool and Colossus movie featured

Ryan Reynolds is a major face in the blockbuster industry. His time as Green Lantern catapulted his potential even if the film itself wasn’t well received. After a few missteps, he is now in his element, from portraying Deadpool, to fast-past flicks like Red Notice, Free Guy, and The Adam Project. 

RELATED: 10 Best Intelligent Action Movies, According To Ranker

Reynolds has found his niche in the action genre and has the filmography to prove it. But movies like The Proposal demonstrate why no one would have thought he had it in him. He was the goofy romantic lead, an American Hugh Grant for instance. Grant never found his way into action flicks but Reynolds did and thrives.

Anne Hathaway
Anne Hathaway as Catwoman speaking with Batman on a rooftop in The Dark Knight Rises

Anne Hathaway’s turn as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises was an action-star-making performance in a way that many who have crossed the Batman franchise have experienced. Her time in the genre is limited, but each time she moves into it, she demonstrates just how perfect the role she is.

Hathaway’s career has spanned many territories. Chick flicks like The Devil Wears Prada or even musicals like Les Misérables are examples of her range. No one would have thought that stunt choreography would be added to that list, but Hathaway has a future in that position if she’s looking for those roles.

Michael Cera
Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Romona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Michael Cera doesn’t give off the presence of an action star. The unassuming character has taken advantage of his vibe and has portrayed all kinds of hilarious, slightly awkward, personalities. Arrested Development is a perfect instance of what Cera’s preferred roles are all about.

His casting in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World was completely inspired. Not only did he match the hero fans had seen on the page, but he embraced the action elements and thrived in that position. He’s not a typical leading man but should be given the opportunity far more often.

Colin Firth
Colin Firth and Taron Egerton in Kingsman

Kingsman helped, in part, to redefine what action could be within the spy and espionage genre. It involved bizarre comic book elements and wacky humor with genuinely hard-hitting sequences to create a beloved hit. Colin Firth wasn’t the typical choice to star in that kind of picture.

RELATED: 10 Best Action Movies On Netflix, According To IMDb

Firth has largely spent his time as a war general or a slightly awkward, yet charming love interest. There are of course plenty of exceptions including The King’s Speech, but dramas and romcoms are all over his filmography. Kingsman is so outside of Firth’s traditional path and yet he is perhaps one of the most celebrated aspects of the hit.

Will Smith
Will Smith as Steven Hiller in Independence Day

Will Smith is a massive action star. Suicide Squad, Men In Black, and Bad Boys are just a couple of examples of just how many classics and culturally significant pictures the actor has produced. But The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air followed the rapper around for years.

Smith portrayed a largely goofy and comedy-driven character. His position in the likes of Independence Day and as Agent J helped to change the perception audiences had of Smith. He can still jump into comedy roles, but he has the seriousness needed to be a leading man in a high-stakes action piece.

Tobey Maguire
Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man No Way Home

Tobey Maguire takes on genuinely intriguing roles. His filmography has been a little sparse recently as the actor is taking a break from the industry. However, drama and comedy are very much in Maguire’s wheelhouse; perhaps that’s why he’s such a good Peter Parker.

Maguire was absolutely an outside choice as a casting for Spider-Man. Indeed, there were plenty of well-known action names that might have been chosen in other scenarios, but it’s clear that Maguire broke any expectations and has become one of the most well-respected webheads of all time.

Scarlet Johansson
Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in 2012's Avengers

Scarlett Johansson started life on screen at a relatively young age. The roles she took on were varied but hadn’t crossed into the action territory much. Pictures like The Prestige and We Bought A Zoo largely played into the image of Johansson’s regular parts.

But her time as Black Widow has cemented her as an action icon. She has appeared across the Marvel Universe in numerous movies and this has allowed her to try several other solo projects, like Lucy and Ghost In The Shell where she continues to take advantage of her complex range of abilities.

NEXT: 10 Underrated Action Movies Of The 2010s (Ranked By IMDb)

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Fast & Furious 11 Release Delay & Filming Start Date Confirmed By Director


Fast and Furious 11
is facing a release date delay to Summer 2026 due to strikes, with director Louis Leterrier confirming the sequel will not be hitting its April 4, 2025 date.
Leterrier also confirms that filming starts in Fall 2025 after finishing a horror movie in September.
The final installment in the
Fast Saga
reunites Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto for one last ride, while also leaving the door open for other spinoffs.

After facing multiple delays due to the 2023 SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes, Fast and Furious 11 is seeing its release date delayed. The next installment in the Vin Diesel-fronted franchise is expected to be the last mainline sequel, while development continues on the Dwayne Johnson-led spinoff Hobbs & Reyes, a mysterious standalone movie penned by Fast X’s Zach Dean and a potential female-led spinoff. While a filming start date was never confirmed, Universal had previously set the movie for an April 2025 release date.

During a recent interview with Collider at a CCXP MX panel, Louis Leterrier was asked for an update on Fast and Furious 11. The director went on to confirm that the final mainline installment in the action franchise will no longer be making its April 4, 2025 release date, instead now aiming for a Summer 2026 release window with the filming start date being set for this fall. Check out what Leterrier said below:

It’s happening. It’s happening very, very soon. I’m able to shoot a little horror movie this summer. I’m finishing my horror movie on September 15th, and I start Fast on September 16th.

Will Fast 11’s Multiple Delays Help Or Hurt The Sequel?

Much like the tenth film before it, Fast and Furious 11 has faced a few behind-the-scenes hardships in its road to getting off the ground, namely the delays stemming from the 2023 strikes. While the latest movie seems to have retained its core creative team in comparison to the shift in directors from franchise vet Justin Lin to Leterrier on Fast X after reported creative differences between the former and Diesel, this change didn’t seem to help much with the continued downward trend recent sequels have seen from critics. Check out how the franchise’s Rotten Tomatoes scores compare below:

Title RT Critical Score RT Audience Score The Fast and the Furious 54% 74% 2 Fast 2 Furious 37% 50% The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift 37% 69% Fast & Furious 28% 67% Fast Five 78% 83% Fast & Furious 6 71% 84% Furious 7 81% 82% The Fate of the Furious 67% 72% Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw 67% 88% F9: The Fast Saga 59% 82% Fast X 56% 84%

Even looking outside the Fast and Furious franchise, many movie sequels have found themselves hurt by various delays, be they from creative changes, general release shifts or other factors. The action genre in particular is one in which lengthier development periods can lead to diminishing returns, be it A Good Day to Die Hard, Rambo: Last Blood or Diesel’s own xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. While Fast and Furious 11 may only be getting pushed back by a year, the delay is nonetheless a concern that the final installment could find itself in trouble.

Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) looking angry with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) looking unimpressed in Fast & Furious

Related 10 Most Exciting Things To Expect From Fast 11 Fast & Furious 11 will pull all the strings to become bigger than the previous installments, and here is why the film is worth being excited about.

On the other hand, the longer wait for Fast and Furious 11 to close out the mainline series of movies could actually prove beneficial for the sequel. Though Leterrier may be busy with another project in the lead-up to filming the next installment, writers Oren Uziel and Christina Hodson should now have more than enough time to really look back at the script and ensure it learns from the critical missteps of recent installments to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the Dominic Toretto saga.

Source: Collider

Fast and Furious 11 temp poster Fast and Furious 11 Fast and Furious 11 is the final movie in the Fast Saga. It reunites Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto with the rest of the cast for one last ride. However, the franchise is open for spinoff films like Hobbs & Shaw afterward.Director Louis Leterrier Release Date April 4, 2025 Distributor(s) Universal Pictures Writers Christina Hodson , Oren Uziel

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Vin Diesel Already Has His Perfect Fast & Furious Replacement Franchise With 51-Year-Old Remake


Vin Diesel’s dominance in Fast & Furious is ending, but Kojak could kick off a new action franchise for him.
Kojak’s reboot faces an uncertain future, but its similarity to Fast & Furious makes it a worthy project for Diesel.
Diesel’s potential shift from criminal racer to cop signifies a fresh start in a possible Fast & Furious-like series.

Vin Diesel’s days of playing Dominic Toretto are numbered, but the actor has already found his perfect Fast & Furious replacement. Diesel found a major breakout role in the early 2000s thanks to participating in The Fast and the Furious. The original 2001 street racing crime movie became the springboard for a sprawling franchise that has lasted for over two decades. The success of the Fast & Furious movies transformed Vin Diesel’s career, turning him into an even bigger star, especially in the action movie genre. But, Fast & Furious 11 is planned as the final chapter for him and the franchise.

The Fast & Furious franchise’s end will put Vin Diesel in an unfamiliar position of not having a major franchise to lean back on. This presents the actor with various options, such as changing the course of his career to pursue non-franchise roles. However, the more likely outcome is that Diesel will attempt to find a new IP that can replace Fast & Furious. He has had trouble in that regard recently, with franchises like xXx or Riddick running cold and Bloodshot and The Last Witch Hunter failing to launch franchises. There is another option for Diesel, though.

2:03 Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto from The Fast & Furious Franchise

Related Vin Diesel May Have Spoiled Fast & Furious 11’s Ending With $2.7 Billion Movie Comparison Dom’s death happening in Fast & Furious 11 may have been spoiled already, with Vin Diesel comparing the upcoming movie to another big franchise.

Kojak Can Be Vin Diesel’s New Action Crime Franchise After Fast & Furious
Diesel Has Been Developing The Reboot Since 2015

The impending conclusion of the Fast & Furious franchise means it is finally time for Vin Diesel’s Kojak reboot to get off the ground. The project was announced back in 2015 with Diesel re-teaming with Universal Pictures, the studio behind Fast & Furious, to develop a movie based on Kojak. The original TV series starred Telly Savalas as Theo Kokaj and ran for three seasons after debuting in 1973. The series revolves around Kojak, a New York detective known for being willing to go beyond the law and a love for cars and lollipops, and follows him as he investigates different cases.

Kojak was rebooted in 2005 as a TV show starring Ving Rhames, but it only ran for six episodes

Development on Vin Diesel’s Kojak movie has not been very active in the nine years since it was announced. However, it still maintains the base similarities to Fast & Furious, which makes the project a worthwhile endeavor for Diesel in terms of finding a new action franchise. He would now have another big action series about cars and crime, essentially making Kojak into a newer version of Fast & Furious. The irony here is that Diesel takes on the role of a cop after playing criminal racer Dominic Toretto.

Vin Diesel’s Involvement Can Morph Kojak Into A Major Action Franchise
Kojak Could Be A Fast & Furious Clone
Telly Savalas talking on the phone in Kojak

Looking at the original TV show, Kojak might not necessarily project to be a major blockbuster action franchise akin to Fast & Furious. The TV series was relatively grounded and small due to the nature of its production. However, the fact that Diesel and Universal pinpointed this property as something they wanted to revive together is telling. The announcement of Kojak’s reboot came months after Furious 7 debuted in theaters and took the franchise to new heights at the box office and in terms of how ridiculously big the action and story could get.

It’s sometimes difficult to remember that Fast & Furious started off with a story about DVD thieves who were also street racers before Diesel helped turn it into something much bigger. With that experience and success already behind him, it would be understandable if a similar path was envisioned for Kojak. The series could then morph into a Fast & Furious clone, one that gives Vin Diesel a new franchise to headline and Universal a “fresh” action franchise to grow.

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The Rock’s WWE Run Means Fast & Furious 11 Must Make 1 Major Hobbs Change


Hobbs from Fast & Furious 11 needs a gritty edge like The Rock’s WWE character to keep the franchise fresh and exciting.
The Rock’s time away from the Fast & Furious universe provides the perfect reason for Hobbs to return with a personal vendetta and a more savage attitude.
While Hobbs shouldn’t become a full-fledged villain in Fast & Furious 11, adding some edginess and dirty tricks could make his character more intriguing and dynamic.

Fast & Furious 11 must make one major Hobbs change after The Rock’s incredible WWE run. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s WWE return surpassed his recent movies, with the actor creating some of the best work of his career. Having returned to a thunderous reception, The Rock was able to flip the crowd’s reception by becoming a heel and playing a major part in WrestleMania’s main events. The Rock hasn’t played a villain on screen for years, as even his depiction of Black Adam lent more into the character’s anti-hero side, which made his wrestling run all the more refreshing.

While his wrestling character may not perfectly translate into the Fast & Furious universe, there is one aspect of The Rock’s WWE run that the franchise should attempt to implement. After debuting in Fast Five, The Rock’s best Fast & Furious scenes helped contribute to the movie series becoming so popular, with Luke Hobbs becoming an instrumental part of the story. He was even given his own spinoff alongside Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and is set to get a solo movie in the future. Despite this, Hobbs would still benefit from adding one key aspect of The Rock’s WWE run.

The Rock’s WWE Run Proves Fast & Furious 11 Needs To Give Hobbs More Of An Edge
Fast & Furious Would Benefit From Hobbs Adopting Some Of The Rock’s WWE Tendancies
Dwayne The Rock Johnson in Black Adam, WWE, and Hobbs and Shaw

Given how electrifying The Rock’s recent WWE run was, there is no doubt Fast & Furious 11 needs to give Hobbs more of an edge. Although the character has had his more serious moments, like most of the Fast & Furious cast, Hobbs tends to mix action with comedy. Hobbs and Shaw are supposed to be two of the more stoic heroes, yet they are constantly at each other’s throats and cracking jokes to help maintain the franchise’s lighthearted core. However, giving Hobbs a grittier side would help the character thrive upon his return.

The Rock’s Fast & Furious return may redeem Fast X’s box office, but the character needs to come back stronger than ever. By allowing him to be more ruthless, he can still maintain some elements of comedy but also become more interesting in the process. Johnson proved that despite being a detestable heel, he was still as hilarious as ever during his recent WWE tenure. This proves that he can maintain Fast & Furious’ tone and humorous style while being more layered; therefore, Hobbs adopting some of The Rock’s WWE characteristics could make him even more entertaining.

Fast & Furious Already Has A Reason For Hobbs To Be More Savage
Hobbs Has Been Away From The Franchise For Several Years

Making a major change to Hobbs’ character could be tough to explain, but Fast & Furious 11 already has a great reason to make him more savage. His four-year absence from the franchise gives him a perfect excuse to come back with a vengeance and potentially have a personal attachment to Fast & Furious 11’s villains. Hobbs’ time away from the main story could be explained through a connection to Fast X’s secondary villain, Aimes. Aimes’ villain twist in Fast X was well executed and suggests he’ll be around for the sequel, which is the perfect reason to bring back Hobbs.

Having a more personal story with one of the villains could allow Hobbs to continue his great quips and one-liners, but it would also give him more of an edge.

Fast X never explained why he’s back, but having a personal vendetta against Aimes could be an intriguing reason. Given Dom and Dante are the focal point of the franchise’s conclusion, Hobbs returning to take down Aimes would avoid overshadowing the main story while still giving him an interesting role. Having a personal story with one of the villains could allow Hobbs to continue his great quips and one-liners, while also giving him more of an edge. This provides The Rock with the perfect reason to implement some of his heel traits while still portraying a morally good hero.

2:34 Image 147 Related Predicting The Ending Of All 13 Fast & Furious Characters In Fast 11 The Fast Saga is set to conclude with Fast & Furious 11 – or Fast X 2 – but how will Dom Toretto and his family’s stories come to a definitive end?

Why Fast & Furious Can’t Bring The Rock Back As A Villain
Hobbs Already Appeared As An Antagonist In Fast Five
A custom image featuring Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs in the Fast and Furious movies Custom image by Debanjana Chowdhury

Although The Rock’s villainous tendencies worked well in the WWE, Fast & Furious can’t bring him back as an antagonist. Johnson already played the main villain of Fast Five, as Hobbs was originally an enemy of Dom and his crew before becoming an ally. Hobbs’ role in Fast Five was one of his best, but despite being the main antagonist, he always had a level of integrity. Dropping all of this to make him a villain in the final movie would be completely unnecessary, especially as the franchise needs him to remain a hero for his spinoff.

Fast & Furious 11 may end the main story, but The Rock will be part of the franchise beyond this, and altering his character so drastically wouldn’t make any sense. Instead, adding some extra edge to his character would have the same effect and would avoid stealing the thunder from Dante and Aimes. Although Fast & Furious 11 shouldn’t make him a villain, the film can still allow Hobbs to play dirty and pull some cheap tricks in order to show a grittier side, while letting him taunt his enemies when he inevitably helps save the day.

Fast & Furious 11
is scheduled to be released in theaters on April 4, 2025.

Fast and Furious 11 temp poster Fast and Furious 11 Fast and Furious 11 is the final movie in the Fast Saga. It reunites Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto with the rest of the cast for one last ride. However, the franchise is open for spinoff films like Hobbs & Shaw afterward.Director Louis Leterrier Release Date April 4, 2025 Distributor(s) Universal Pictures Writers Christina Hodson , Oren Uziel

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