10 Actors Who Became Unlikely Action Stars

Who knew they had it in 'em to horribly kill everyone?

There are some actors who define the action genre. Actors whose steely gaze can make villains tremble; who could blow up a tank with a single flex of their bicep. And then there are the other types: those who came out of nowhere - those who you would sooner expect in a teen comedy or a cheesy romance than a rip-roaring, explosion-packed extravaganza. So remember that Tom Hardy forged himself into a human wrecking ball for Warrior and The Dark Knight Rises, but before that he was a skinny beanpole who wouldn't have a chance against Alfred in a street fight (let alone Batman). Before Jason Statham turned himself into a rinse-and-repeat action megastar, he was a diver and a model.. and although he was entertaining in Lock, Stock, he wasn't exactly the picture of an action hero. So here is a tribute to the latter. Here are 10 actors who became unlikely action stars. The anti-Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the world. Actors who came out of left-field and surprised us with their sheer badassery, starting with...

10. Liam Neeson

Yes, Liam Neeson has had some action roles before. He trained Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace, and helped hone the caped crusader's skills in Batman Begins. Before that, though, his usual roles were often quieter. He played a widower in Love Actually and the eponymous Schindler in the critically acclaimed Schindler's List. His first film role was Jesus in Pilgrim's Progress. Going from Jesus to a CIA agent fuelled by vengeance? You can't get much more of a bigger change in direction. In 2008, with Taken, he exploded into the stratosphere. The film proved so popular that the image of Liam Neeson smashing terrorists in the face completely overshadowed everything that he had done up to that point. It all started with a phone call. "If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you." Now he's synonymous with the action genre. If you're under attack and need someone to unleash the fury, he'd be top of the list. He's set to save the day all over again in Non-Stop, which was released on February 28.

Mike Revell is the author of STONEBIRD (Quercus, 2015), and is an award-winning journalist. He has written for the Mirror and NFL UK. He lives near Cambridge, and has an unhealthy obsession with American football, Doctor Who, and Game of Thrones.