For the most part, red carpets and Navy SEALs don’t go together. They’re two very different categories in our minds that surely would never blend.
But did you know that there are some famous actors who were actually Navy SEALs before getting their big break? They’re few and far between but here’s a condensed list of ex-SEALs who went on to be stars of the screen.
Pictured above, Jesse Ventura is probably the most recognizable ex-Navy SEAL and served from 1969 to 1975 in the U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Team. He went on to have a career in professional wrestling, acting, and became the Governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003.
Ventura’s acting career began in 1987 with the film Predator, in his role as the iconic Blain Cooper. He then appeared in two episodes of Zorro in 1991, going on to star in the 1990 film Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe. Other filmography credits include his supporting roles in The Running Man, Thunderground, Demolition Man, Repossessed, Tagteam, Ricochet, Living and Working in Space: The Countdown Has Begun, Demolition Man, The Master of Disguise, Batman & Robin, The Ringer, Borders, Woodshop, and The Drunk. He’s made cameo appearances in Major League II and The X-Files as well.
After a rough start, complete with dealing drugs in the Bronx, Remi Adeleke joined the U.S. Navy at 19 and qualified to become a Navy SEAL. After 13 years of service, he transferred to the Army Reserves but found civilian life to be difficult. Out of nowhere, a casting agent who had previously booked Adeleke as an extra called him in for a job on the set of Transformers: The Last Knight. He impressed the directors and was promoted to a principal role for the film.
Serving as a Navy SEAL from 1984 to 1995, Richard Machowitz went on to host, produce, and appear in numerous television shows. In 1998, he appeared in one episode of Pensacola: Wings of Gold, in 2005 he hosted The Gift. Probably most notable, from 2005 to 2008, he hosted and produced the television series Future Weapons on the Discovery Channel and the Military Channel. Other credits include Rome is Burning, Gamer, America: The Story of Us, Deadliest Warrior, Mankind: The Story of All of Us, and Ultimate Soldier Challenge.
Becoming more of a reality star than an actor, Scott Helvenston was a Navy SEAL from 1982 to 1994, where he became the youngest person to complete Navy SEAL training. He was a personal trainer to many Hollywood stars and appeared on the reality shows Combat Missions, Man vs. Beast, and Extreme Expeditions: Model Behavior.
Rudy Boesch is another former Navy SEAL who went on to find reality show fame. As one of the very first Navy SEALs, he served for an impressive 45 years from 1945 to 1990. During his time in the military, he earned the Bronze Star for heroic action in the Vietnam War and was designated the “Bullfrog” for the longest-serving SEAL on active duty.
Boesch then starred on Survivor: Borneo at 72 years old, finishing in third place and becoming one of the most popular contestants on the show. He later returned for Survivor: All Stars and was the host of Combat Missions in 2002.
After graduating from the University of San Diego, Cade Courtley was commissioned as an Officer in the U.S. Navy and became a Navy SEAL before he left to pursue other projects. He went on to become the host of Surviving Disaster on Spike TV and the Discovery Channel as well as Sportsman Channel’s America Unplugged.
Read our list of famous celebrities who served in the military.