Big Screen Dreams: 7 Models Who Went Hollywood

by Emily Krauser 9:00 AM PDT, July 25, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

Superstars like Cindy Crawford and Elle Macpherson have popped up on screens big and small for years, but they're known for their modeling days far more than any acting gigs. There are plenty of models, however, who've used catwalks as jumping off points to reach their real dream: The silver screen.

Take Cara Delevingne, for instance. The British model has made waves in major fashion campaigns and on runways, becoming a brand in her own right thanks to her blunt musings and fun, jealousy-inducing posts on Instagram.

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Now, she's tackling her first major role as the lead in the film adaptation of John Green's novel Paper Towns. If you ask Delevingne, however, leading lady was a long time coming. Modeling was more of a means to an end than a career goal -- she has been making it her mission to act for years. After getting rejected by many talent agents, she finally got an audition for a non-speaking role in the 2012 film Anna Karenina.

Delevingne's part in Paper Towns is a pretty big -- and very exciting -- deal. "The thrill of acting is making a character real," she told Complex magazine. "Modeling is the opposite of real. It's being fake in front of the camera."

Who knew modeling was such a bum gig? Well, a lot of actors, apparently. Here are seven more big names who got their start walking runways -- and then ran far, far away for plum acting roles instead.

1. Ashton Kutcher

Photo: Getty Images/CBS

The new dad was discovered by a modeling scout at a bar during his time at the University of Iowa. After winning the "Fresh Faces of Iowa" modeling competition (yes, that's a thing), the 37-year-old actor dropped out of college and signed with a modeling agency in New York City. Though he showed us his Calvins, you probably first remember seeing him in 1998, when he started playing Michael Kelso on That '70s Show -- you know, that little sitcom where he originally met his then-co-star and now-wife Mila Kunis. Kutcher is more than an actor, however -- he's also a venture capitalist who was the first Twitter user to reach one million followers (take that, Kim Kardashian!).

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2. Josh Duhamel

Photo: Getty Images/CBS

The Transformers star not only got his start modeling, but he won the sweet title of Male Model of the Year in an International Modeling and Talent Association competition back in 1997 -- against none other than Kutcher, who came in as runner-up. We've never wanted to visit a random New York City amateur modeling contest so badly...

The North Dakota native continued to model and stay relevant as an extra before landing the role of Leo du Pres on All My Children in 1999. He has since starred on the TV dramas Las Vegas and Battle Creek and stolen scenes in the flicks Win a Date With Tad Hamilton and When in Rome. His greatest role so far may be at home, however -- the 42-year-old actor is dad to almost 2-year-old son Axl with wife Fergie.

3. Cameron Diaz

Photo: Seventeen/Columbia Pictures

Before her breakthrough role in 1994's The Mask, Diaz was a fresh-faced teen gracing the covers of all-American magazines like Seventeen. The 42-year-old's acting career has been so successful that her modeling days have all but been forgotten -- save for when you see those legs, which go on for days. Damn it, Diaz.

Her biggest roles to date include parts in There's Something About Mary, Being John Malkovich and Charlie's Angels, and she's the voice of Princess Fiona in the Shrek franchise.

4. Brooklyn Decker

Photo: Sports Illustrated/Columbia Pictures

The former Victoria's Secret model -- who's expecting her first child with her husband, tennis pro Andy Roddick -- landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated's coveted Swimsuit Issue in 2010, just one year before she made her feature film debut in the Adam Sandler comedy Just Go With It. The 28-year-old North Carolina native has since made guest appearances on sitcoms like New Girl and The League, landed roles in Battleship and What to Expect When You're Expecting, and starred on Friends with Better Lives and Grace and Frankie.

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5. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

Photo: Getty Images/Paramount Pictures

Like Decker, Huntington-Whiteley got her start with Victoria's Secret -- as an Angel, no less. When the 28-year-old turned to acting, it wasn't with a whimper but a serious bang. Director Michael Bay picked her to replace Megan Fox as the romantic lead in the sequel Transformers: Dark of the Moon. It took a few years for the Brit to get her second major role, however, which finally came in the this year’s feminist action flick Mad Max: Fury Road.

6. Milla Jovovich

Photo: Getty/Screen Gems

The Ukranian-born mama stole every stoner's heart when she barely said a word in 1993's Dazed and Confused, but she had been making her presence known for quite a few years before that. She started modeling at age 12, then landed her first movie role in 1998's The Night Train to Kathmandu. The 39-year-old beauty's big breakout came in 1997 when she starred in The Fifth Element, but it's her lead role as Alice in the Resident Evil franchise that's truly become iconic.

7. Rebecca Romijn

Photo: Getty/ 20th Century Fox

By now you know both Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated do a household name make, and Romijn certainly benefited from modeling the two -- and it certainly helped her cross over into television. One of her first major gigs came as a host for MTV's House of Style in 1989, but her acting career didn’t really kick off until the late '90s, starting with a guest spot on Friends and a cameo in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Her biggest role to date has been in the X-Men franchise, where she's covered herself in head-to-toe paint to star as Mystique.

It pays to be a multihyphenate in Hollywood.

One reality star seems to be trying to make a wave as both a model and actress -- or at least major Internet personality. See what Keeping Up with the Kardashian's star Kylie Jenner wore when she turned up at a Paper Towns event this week: