Actors With Real-Life Skills Who Got To Show Them Off On The Big Screen

Ashley Hunte
Movie film reels with strips of film coming out of them atop a white surface.
Unsplash | Denise Jans

In a lot of movies, we'll see actors doing some pretty impressive things, like playing a musical instrument or performing some kind of stunt or trick. Most of the time, they're only able to do it through movie magic. But some actors actually use their real life skills in their movie rolls.

Like these actors here, who seemed pretty eager to show off their non-acting skills.

Daniel Day-Lewis took method acting to a whole new level for The Last of the Mohicans.

Daniel Day-Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans.
IMDb | 20th Century Fox via IMDb

Daniel Day-Lewis is known for method acting and being extra prepared for his roles, and the same can be said for the 1992 film.

He spent six months living in the wilderness.

A picturesque shot of a creek by a mountain and cedar forest.
Unsplash | Hendrik Cornelissen

He learned how to hunt, skin, build a canoe, and a whole host of other survival skills. For that time, he didn't eat anything he didn't kill himself. Talk about dedication!

Mandy Patinkin is actually a trained fencer!

Inigo Montoya saying "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

That sword fighting scene in The Princess Bride wasn't Patinkin's first time practicing the sport. He actually studied fencing during his time at Julliard. Who would've thought it'd come in handy?

Of course, he still trained for the fight.

The sword fighting scene between Inigo and Wesley in The Princess Bride.
Giphy | Disney+

Both Patinkin and Cary Elwes trained for months to get that scene juuust right. And since it's one of the more memorable moments of the movie, it paid off pretty well.

Tom Holland is a trained gymnast.

Spider-Man giving a woman directions on the street.
Giphy | Spider-Man

While much of the action in the MCU Spider-Man movies is thanks to CGI, a lot of those stunts that Spidey does were performed by Holland himself. Not all of them, of course (for legal reasons).

The fact that he can do stunts is part of what landed him the role.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Giphy | Spider-Man

Being both a gymnast and a dancer (and an actor), Holland was pretty much destined to play Peter Parker in the newest set of live-action Spider-Man movies.

Dustin Hoffman is actually a pianist.

A wooden grand piano; the shot mainly focuses on the black and white keys.
Unsplash | Geert Pieters

When you think Dustin Hoffman, you probably think about his acting. But in Last Chance Harvey, he gets to show off his piano skills, too. And no, that's not editing, he actually plays!

What's more, he actually composed the song he plays in the movie!

Dustin Hoffman sitting at a black grand piano, in the midst of playing.
IMDb | Last Chance Harvey via IMDb

He composed the song, and Bette Midler wrote the lyrics, and the two performed it back in 1977, a good three decades before it would appear again in the 2008 film.

Busting down the door in The Shining wasn't Jack Nicholson's first time using an ax.

Jack Nicholson hitting a door with an ax during The Shining.

Known as probably one of the most iconic scenes in horror movie history, that part of The Shining where Nicholson breaks down the door seems a little too real.

That's because he was once a volunteer fireman.

Jack Nicholson in the Shining looking through a hole in a door and saying, "Here's Johnny!"

Nicholson once trained as a fire marshal, so busting a door down with an ax proved to be pretty easy for him. And it ended up being pretty bone chilling for the rest of us.

The motorcycle chase scene in The Great Escape was Steve McQueen's idea.

Steve McQueen on a motorcycle during a scene in The Great Escape.

The 1960s classic is defined by many things, but that exciting motorcycle chase is definitely one of the most memorable moments. And it was apparently McQueen's idea.

He, of course, knew his way around a motorcycle.

A person sitting sideways on a parked motorcycle, staring at a river that's surrounded by mountains in the distance.
Unsplash | Harley-Davidson

Steve McQueen was a motorcycle racer at one point in his life. He apparently did nearly all of the stunts in the movie himself, because why not.

Sebastian Stan speaks Romanian.

Seastian stan as Bucky Barnes during The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
Giphy | Disney+

Well, if you knew that Sebastian Stan was born in Romania, then this probably wouldn't come as a surprise. Still, you'd probably think he wouldn't get to use his native language skills in movies all that much.

But he did in Captain America: Civil War.

Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes.
Giphy | Disney+

Part of the movie takes place in Bucharest, where Stan's character Bucky Barnes buys some plums in perfect Romanian. Such a minor, yet cool detail to add into the movie!

Bill Murray really did bowl three strikes in a row for Kingpin.

Bill Murray excitedly cheering during the movie Kingpin.
Giphy | IFC

In the movie, the crowd goes wild when Bill Murray's character earns a turkey during a bowling match. And what we're seeing isn't thanks to the power of editing -- it's real.

And the crowd's reaction is real, too.

A bowling ball rapidly rolling toward pins, striking them all down.
Giphy | LeVar Burton Kids

What's even crazier is, apparently, Murray did this on the first try! Whether it was all skill or a little bit of luck, you have to admit that it's pretty impressive.

Before acting, Keanu Reeves was a hockey star.

Keanu Reeves giving a thumbs up while in the rain.

Seeing as Reeves is from Canada, it's not surprising that he played hockey at a young age. And apparently, he was pretty good at it. But he liked acting a bit more.

His hockey skills helped him get his big break, though.

An ice hockey net atop an outdoor rink.
Unsplash | Chris Liverani

In the movie Youngblood, Reeves got cast as a goalie, mirroring the position he played in real life. And from there, a star was born.

Lance Henriksen can really do that knife trick.

The "knife game" from the movie Aliens; one hand is outstretched on a table while a knife blade sits in between two fingers.
IMDb | Aliens via IMDb

In another iconic scene, this time from the movie Aliens, we see Henriksen's character do the iconic "knife game" trick, where he stabs a knife between Bill Paxton's fingers on a table.

And he was really doing it in the moment.

Jimmy Fallon standing in front of a blue curtain, saying "ow!" while putting his hands by his heart.
Giphy | The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Of course, they sped it up in post to make it look a bit more high-stakes, but nothing about it was fake. Even when he caught Paxton's finger (by accident) during a reshoot.