ByBas Rutten, writer at
Official Creators profile of Bas Rutten. Retired MMArtist, entertainer, host for the podcast
Bas Rutten

I am here in NY right now shooting a part in the new Kevin James TV show Kevin Can Wait, and during my downtime today, I started thinking about other fighters that have been making the transition into acting. I get asked a lot about my own acting career (if you can call it that), but I think today, we’re going to focus on some fundamentals that these guys and gals should be focusing on if they want their big break.

So, what makes for a successful transition from fighting to TV/movies, you ask? Well, it’s what you would expect:

Fight scenes. That's it, in a nutshell, and even those you going to have to do very differently from your fighting career. Now this is very important, so pay attention, because you have to focus on this—you are going to have to miss all your strikes!

I had a fight scene with Marco Ruas in my first movie, and everybody on the set was freaking out because we ended up actually hitting each other here and there, and we frequently came way too close at other times. One cut at the beginning of a movie, and it messes up the rest of the filming. You don't need to land, because with today’s technology and camera angles, nobody can tell if you missed by 1 inch or 8 inches; you can really miss by that wide a range and it still looks good.

My suggestion to fighters who want to act is, please don't think that you can act and come unprepared for your first job. It's like an actor telling fighters they can fight (of course there are exceptions both ways).

It's a hard profession to do—looking like "you” in front of the camera while playing the part of someone else is much harder than you think. To do that, while giving the appearance of being natural and relaxed, knowing millions will be watching, is no easy task. So, why not get a leg up on this new career path of yours and start taking acting classes? It's fun and you get to perform in front of an audience (trust me, you need this experience).

Do you remember the very first time you fought? To me, it was chaos. That same chaos can be applied to acting. In my first fight, I thought I was prepared, that I was gonna look great?! Same thing happened to me in acting. I memorized every single line I had in my first TV gig, knew them all flawlessly. You want to know what the very first thing I asked when they said "ACTION?” I asked: "What's my line?"

Now, when fighters have already done camera work (talking, not fighting), and preferably LIVE camera work, that’s a big help, especially if you are part of a broadcast team and rehearse a script that you need to do live. That is acting—learning lines and saying them naturally.

Most of the time, that script for fight breakdowns and discussion that you rehearsed for the opening of a fight show, you made yourself. Movie and TV scripts are written by other people who don't speak as you and don't use your wording—you have to do the lines they have written for you, and that’s no small task.

Just take classes, that's all I am saying.

You’re probably wondering which UFC fighters could make a good transition to acting? I’ve thought about this a lot and several names jumped out at me immediately.

Once I start thinking, names begin popping up pretty rapidly, but these are the ones that came to mind first.

Now, we need to know if any of these fighters could take roles outside the "action" standard? The answer is yes, if they go about it in the right way.

Their way in, just like with me, is fighting. They need to do that the first several times, to get the experience they need so they will be more prepared for other roles besides action and fighting. I don't think Brian Stann ever acted, but just because he is so calculated and calm under pressure (the military may have helped him with that or it could just be his natural mental form), I think he could do a wide variety of acting roles.

Many times when I see actors like Daniel Day Lewis, Tom Hardy, Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman, Robert Downey Jr, my buddy Holt McCallany, Tom Hardy, Ryan Gosling, Will Smith…I mean, I can go on and on, I think, ‘Maybe I should stop pursuing it, because that's a completely different level.’ It almost feels like these guys are at a level that is unreachable for me, but I can always try, and hopefully my fighting moves help me cover up my shortcomings in acting. From my very first role all the way through to my latest, one thing remains the same, my respect for the art.


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