John Wick: Chapter 2 has FINALLY exploded onto Aussie cinema screens this week, seeing Keanu Reeves bolstering his rep as an awesome onscreen action hero, complete with admirable puppy love. Yet there was a time – like 1989 – when the thought of Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan pulling of full-on action roles just made people laugh.

Reeves is hardly the only one to surprise us by arcing up their action side, though. Here’s a handful of others who have managed it effortlessly – and in style…

 

Liam Neeson
Taken (2008)

Very much an “Actor”, TV miniseries, historical and artier fare was pretty much Neeson’s go – the likes of The Mission and A Prayer for the Dying. But he also dabbled in action with the likes of Clint and was, of course, Darkman. Yet as Taken’s hyper-dad Bryan Mills he glued himself into the genuine action hero hall of fame.

 

Scarlett Johannson
Iron Man 2 (2010)

Following parts in such dramatic fare as The Horse Whisperer and the brilliant Ghost World, suddenly Johansson threw a curveball with the fab, silly Eight Legged Freaks (2002). Then she ran back to drama’s bosom. But eight years later she became Black Widow. Other than pausing to buy a zoo with the guy below, she scarcely looked back!

 

Matt Damon
The Bourne Identity (2002)

Will in Good Will Hunting? Private Ryan? Tom Ripley? Ocean’s Eleven? All pretty good roles, but nothing particularly screamed “Whoa! This dude’s actiontastic!” Then we clapped eyes on The Bourne Identity (plus four subsequent flicks) and we decided that yes, Damon can pull it off.

 

Michael Keaton
Batman
(1989)

After several small TV roles, Keaton broke into big screen comedy with the very enjoyable  Night Shift. Then Mr Mom. Then Johnny Dangerously. Then Beetlejuice (Beetlejuice, Beetleju- no, better not). Typecast? Maybe, but then in 1989 he could say “I’m Batman” and we really believed him.

 

Kate Beckinsale
Underworld
(2003)

Very much the English rose, Kate started out in all manner of period dramas. Then came the odd comedy (the ace Shooting Fish) and modern-day drama like Brokedown Palace. Ultimately, appearing in Pearl Harbor may have given her the action bug, with her becoming vamp-slaying Selene in Underworld just two years later.

 

Bruce Willis
Die Hard (1988)

Sure, he’s been a go-to action star ever since exploding into the Nakatomi building THAT Christmas. But before becoming the white singlet-rocking John McClane he was just that guy on TV’s Moonlighting, and that fluffy romcom Blind Date opposite Kim Basinger. Who’d-a thunk it?

 

Got anybody that you’d like to add to our list? Hit up the comments section just below!