"The Beautiful Life": The Best and Worst Models Turned Actresses

By Zach Oat
|  Saturday, Sep 12, 2009  |  Updated 12:00 PM EDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
"The Beautiful Life": The Best and Worst Models Turned Actresses

Getty Images

Supermodel Elle MacPherson graced the cover of Playboy in May 1994 wearing only a pair of black stockings.

Many, many actresses get their start in the modeling world. Some have a talent for acting early on and only use modeling as a stepping stone, but others are simply born to look pretty, and seem to only move on to acting because they'll make more money, and because they can do it past the age of 23. In the new series The Beautiful Life, the CW looks at the seamy side of modeling, and as a nod to one of the greats, has cast former supermodel Elle "The Body" Macpherson as the head of a modeling agency. Unfortunately, while it's great to see her again, we're not sure that that was the best casting decision. We looked at the massive list of actresses who used to be models and picked the five best working actresses today and the five worst. They're all gorgeous, of course, and we respect them for excelling in one career, let alone two, but the truth is, some need to stick to simply being beautiful.

THE BEST

1. Jessica Lange
Her training in mime and her work with an invisible gorilla in King Kong must have taught her how to emote, because she went on to earn an Oscar for 1982's Tootsie as well as being nominated for that same year's Frances. She scored another win for Blue Sky, was convincingly terrorized in Cape Fear and Rob Roy, and she did a lot of work on the legitimate stage in between. She most recently scored an Emmy nomination at the age of 60 for Grey Gardens.

2. Charlize Theron
Working with big monkeys must be the key to success, because after her role in Mighty Joe Young, Theron scored supporting roles in The Devil's Advocate and The Cider House Rules. But those were just practice for her role in Monster, as an abused prostitute turned serial killer, which earned her an Oscar. She received another nomination for playing a miner in North Country.

3. Angelina Jolie
Say what you will about the Tomb Raider movies, Jolie won an Oscar for her role as a sociopath in Girl, Interrupted and has alternated between cool, collected roles in quality action flicks and emotionally draining parts in otherwise weak dramas ever since. She finally hit the right combo again with The Changeling, which earned her an Oscar nod.

4. Famke Janssen
Yes, her breakout role was as a Bond Girl, but Janssen matured and began to play more roles that required more nuance and less thigh-crushing. She was boxed into the sci-fi and horror genres for a while (her run as Jean Grey in the X-Men franchise was nicely understated), but she went on to a memorable run on Nip Tuck and a moving performance as a pool hustler in Turn the River.

5. Vanessa Williams
Not only has Williams played the hilariously evil Wilhelmina Slater on Ugly Betty for a few seasons now, the former pageant queen and Miss America has played a number of dramatic film roles, including the dying mother of a developmentally challenged boy in My Brother and a pretty bad-ass detective in Shaft.

THE WORST

1. Cindy Crawford
Despite being one of the most famous models in the world at one point, Crawford only played one serious role -- in 1995's Fair Game -- before calling it quits, probably because she was out-acted by Billy Baldwin. Had no one ever watched her cardboard-cutout hosting abilities on House of Style? She now designs and sells furniture.

2. Estella Warren
It may not be fair to judge Estella Warren, who scored high-profile roles in terrible, terrible movies -- Planet of the Apes, Driven, Kangaroo Jack -- but her performances in them were so lackluster and wooden that her career has slowly dwindled to appearing in National Lampoon movies.

3. Andie MacDowell
McDowell, on the other hand, has had high-profile roles in some great movies -- Groundhog Day, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sex Lies and Videotape -- but still managed to be the dullest thing about all of them. She belongs on this list for the rain scene in Four Weddings alone.

4. Elle Macpherson
Elle's roles as a model in both Alice and Sirns didn't require her to stretch much, but even a simple dinner conversation with George Clooney in Batman and Robin is painful to watch.

1. Kathy Ireland
Two words: Necessary Roughness.

Agree? Disagree? Nominate your fave or least fave model-turned-actress below.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
21st Century Solutions
The NBCUniversal Foundation is partnering... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out