From Catwalks To Close-Ups: 9 Model-Turned-Actresses

There's a certain stigma in Hollywood surrounding models who want to make the notoriously tricky transition into acting. While A-listers like Halle Berry, Penélope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz all started out as models, none of them walked the runways to global superstardom. They emerged as stars only after their acting careers took off, and were spared a lot of the skepticism that tends to greet more famous cover girls standing at the foot of Hollywood's golden gates.
In fact, there have only been a handful of supermodels who successfully parlayed their voguing skills into legitimate acting careers. Many observers see modeling as a vapid profession, one that requires little more than the ability to sashay down a runway in four-inch stilettos. Acting, they argue, is high art. It's cerebral, deeply felt, and requires years of training to master. While some models have failed in their attempts at a big-screen career, others have made it look easy. The latest supermodel to give it a go is Kate Upton, who stars alongside Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann in next week's ode to girl power The Other Woman. Whether Upton has a future in the pictures remains to be seen, but if she refers to the following slideshow as a do-and-don't guide for models-turned-actresses, we might just see her accept an Oscar when it's all said and done. Or, at least present one.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marvel.
Rebecca Romijn
This California native and Victoria's Secret veteran was one of the highest paid supermodels of the '90s when she won the role of a lifetime as the shape-shifting mutant seductress Mystique in Bryan Singer's superhero saga X-Men. After appearing in the sequels X2: X-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand, Romijn proved she was more than a one-trick pony as the lead in Brian De Palma's wildly underrated neo-noir Femme Fatale.
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Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Cindy Crawford
As the most famous supermodel ever, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood came banging on Cindy Crawford's door. But, after her first and only film Fair Game — a hackneyed thriller featuring Crawford and Billy Baldwin as a mismatched duo on the run — was eaten alive by critics and ignored by audiences, she probably wishes she'd never answered.
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Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
Lily Cole
Madcap auteur Terry Gilliam has always been attracted to the otherworldly, so it's no wonder he chose this extraterrestrial British gamine as the ethereal Macguffin in his twisted fantasy The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. While the film was only Cole's second major role, it was also her costar Heath Ledger's last, which unfortunately distracted from one of the best acting debuts by a model in recent memory.
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Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
Brooklyn Decker
Brooklyn Decker's hilarious social-media presence had us convinced early on that this all-American beauty was more than just a pretty face. Apparently, casting directors agree. The former Sports Illustrated cover girl has already appeared in several blockbusters including What to Expect When You're Expecting, Battleship, and Just Go With It, and has films for the likes of Warren Beatty and Joe Carnahan on the horizon.
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Photo: Courtesy of New Legacy Films.
Milla Jovovich
In terms of box-office clout alone, there hasn't been a more successful model-turned-actress than this Ukrainian-born knockout. Oh, and speaking of knockouts, thanks to the incredibly successful Resident Evil franchise (which will see its sixth installment hit theaters next year), Jovovich has established herself as one of the greatest female action heroes of our time.
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Photo: Courtesy of MGM.
Olga Kurylenko
When this French stunner was cast as a Bond girl opposite Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace, some observers predicted she would fade into anonymity as so many of 007's beauties have before her. Then living-legend Terrence Malick handpicked her to star opposite Ben Affleck in his lyrical love story To The Wonder, and just like that, Kurylenko has become one of the most sought-after actresses in the business.
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Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Isabella Rossellini
It's no surprise this Italian supermodel felt the lure of the cinema: She's the daughter of legendary Italian neo-realist Roberto Rossellini and Casablanca star Ingrid Bergman. What was surprising was the first major role she chose. Rossellini played the abused lounge singer in David Lynch's sinister celluloid nightmare Blue Velvet. Her startling performance was a gut-punch to unsuspecting viewers, and the start of a remarkable acting career for a model or anyone really.
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Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
Elle Macpherson
If her model nickname is "The Body," then her actress nickname should be "The Body of Work," because the Australian Amazon has amassed a very impressive one since making her acting debut in Sirens opposite Hugh Grant and Sam Neil in 1993. From there, Macpherson went on to star in Woody Allen's Alice, Batman & Robin, The Edge, and The Mirror Has Two Faces alongside Barbra Streisand. She even hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live, proving that one of the most gorgeous supermodels ever is also one of the funniest.
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Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
Tyra Banks
While most of you may remember Tyra Banks the actress for her stint as Will Smith's feisty counterpart on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the former Victoria's Secret model really turned heads in John Singleton's Higher Learning, the race-relations drama in which she played a doomed college student. Banks never did live up to her potential as an actress, but if she ever decides to stop yelling at aspiring models on national television, we'd love to see her give it one more go.
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