When we think of action movies, heroes, and tough guys in general, there are probably some faces that pop into your head right away. In movies that aren’t even supposed to be action films, the tough guy character pops in more often than you’d think. Beefy dudes with muscles are popular because some like looking at them and others want to be them. This character, the tough guy, is someone who can do anything. At the end of the day, they’ll win, save the world, and get the girl. They’ll use their muscles to fight, kill, and avenge. This character is manipulated countless of times, and it’s always easy to see the qualities that define them.
When we start talking about the real world, things get a bit more complicated. What makes someone a tough guy? Is it acting tough, or are there other qualities that make them appear strong? We’ve put together a list of 20 people who are usually seen as “tough guys” and half of them are the real deal. They might be guys who like to prove how strong they are or are known for being violent dudes. The other half of these tough guys aren’t so scary at all. In real-life, there’s no one that’s nicer than them.
Which guys are you surprised to find out about? What qualities do you think makes someone a “tough” character? Here are 10 Actors Who Look Tough But Are Big Softies IRL And 10 Who Are The Real Deal:
20 Jeffrey Dean Morgan Looks For The Softie In Neegan
Negan is one of the most angering villains to ever end up on The Walking Dead. He’s managed to get rid of some of our favorite characters who were there from the beginning. He certainly plays the role of the tough guy on the AMC series, but the real-life actor who plays him, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, isn’t at all like his character.
The actor gets some hate out in public for the evil role he plays, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan would never hurt another person like Negan and is a total softie in real life. He has stated that he relates to Negan in some way and tries to find what justifies his actions, believing he’s not a pure evil villain. Still, the real-life Morgan couldn’t be further from his character.
19 Mickey Rourke Used To Ditch Serious Auditions
Mickey Rourke was one of the toughest actors at one point in his career. He admittedly let that get to him, ultimately causing his downfall. He was a strong man and could play the toughest roles Hollywood demanded. His strong personality onscreen blended into his real life, making him a rude guy that not everyone was interested in working with. He stated acting wasn’t for real men and turned down some pretty iconic roles, such as Bruce Willis’s part in Pulp Fiction and a role in The Silence of the Lambs.
He eventually lost everything, having to ask friends to borrow money just so he could eat.
He would call his ex-wife every day crying and begging for help. He revived his name a bit after his downfall, but it seems the real-life Mickey Rourke was a little too much of a tough guy at one point.
18 Channing Tatum Isn't Afraid To Be Funny
Channing Tatum has a killer body and has acted in roles similar to that image. More often than he used to as of recently, however, Channing Tatum hasn’t been afraid to let his soft side show. Though he’s a beefy dude that dances in Magic Mike or fights in Fighting, he also has a crazy side that isn’t afraid to make fun of the ridiculous roles he’s taken in the past.
It seems he’s more interested in accepting unique and interesting roles instead of ones that just allow him to take his shirt off. There’s no denying that he could take a lot of people in a fight. He was even a dancer in the past. Still, his ability to not be afraid to show off his more sensitive side disqualifies him from being the real deal.
17 Mark Wahlberg Wasn't Always A Nice Guy
Mark Wahlberg plays characters that you wouldn’t want to run into on the street when walking alone. It turns out, the same can be said for the real-life Mark, and not just the characters he plays on screen. Before he was famous, he was just a Boston teen walking down the street holding a wooden stick. He saw a Vietnamese man and hurt an unsuspecting pedestrian.
He told police that he didn’t even need to be identified, boasting that he was the one who hurt the man. The real encounter played no part in hindering the actor’s successful career and only proved that he’s done more damage in his real-life than he ever did playing the role of a “tough guy.”
16 Liam Neeson Likes To Make Fun Of Himself
Liam Neeson is probably the last guy you’d want to get a phone call from. His roles in the Star Wars franchise as well as parts in action movies like Taken have crafted a tough guy image. Liam is quite the opposite of the characters he plays. Of course, he’s a strong person able to keep up with the parts he plays, but his character is much more in line with a sweet and silly man.
He’s known for making his cast members laugh on set, not afraid to make fun of himself. He’s sort of taken on making fun of his tough-guy role, always poking at the trope, not afraid to joke and tease about the absurdity of the situation. He’s also pranked people in the past, jokingly calling them and stating his famous Taken monologue.
15 Ronda Rousey Will Win A Fight Against Anyone
Before Ronda Rousey became known as one of the greatest fighters alive, there wasn’t even a division for women in the UFC. That all changed as Rousey emerged, at one point having a streak of pro fights with no loses. She’s not only one of the greatest fighters alive, but many have stated that she’s the best working athlete, comparing her to names like Lebron James. She’s also ended up dabbling in the acting world as well. She’ll likely grow more as an actor, but her audience can’t forget that she’s not just playing the role of a “tough guy,” but instead, she’s the real deal.
Her mother instilled the idea to never completely let her guard down and that failing was not an option.
Ronda isn’t afraid to fight anyone on the planet and believes that she would undeniably always win.
14 Vin Diesel Loves Playing Dungeons And Dragons
Vin Diesel is the ultimate tough guy. He’s known for his role in the huge Fast & Furious franchise and with a hard exterior and mean-mugging face, he seems like someone you wouldn’t want to get caught up with alone in public. It turns out, in real life, he’s actually just a big softie.
Vin isn’t afraid to talk about how much he loves Dungeons and Dragons, a game that is typically thought to be nerdy.
He’s a huge fan of the game, which is kind of funny to imagine, as most would picture him as the jock in high school, not the nerd. Does playing Dungeons and Dragons make him not tough? Not completely, but we’d still categorize him as a softie on the list compared to the other tough guys.
13 Hulk Hogan Has A Foul Mouth
For a while, The Hulk was one of the most well-known wrestlers in the franchise. As he got older, his life spread more into the acting world and eventually found himself on a reality show. He was always known for being a pretty tough guy, ripping open his shirt and hurting other wrestlers in countless matches. Turns out, he’s just as tough, or at least tries to be, in real life.
After Gawker released a tape of the star, his rant was also caught on the tape. He stated that he wished his daughter was at least dating a wealthy man, not afraid to use derogatory terms to describe his daughter’s boyfriend. At one point, he also uses a derogatory term to describe Dwayne Johnson.
12 Hugh Jackman Got Caught Trying To Anonymously Donate To Charity
Wolverine is known for being a tough guy. Of course, that requires a tough actor to fill the role. Hugh Jackman certainly delivers when it comes to his performance in the X-Men series, however, outside of his onscreen characters, he’s not all that tough.
He’s someone with a giant heart and was recently caught trying to donate money anonymously to a children’s hospital.
He does a great job of playing a dark onscreen character who uses physical strength to their advantage, but in the real world, it seems like it’s his heart that does all the work. With a net worth of over $100 million, he’s got plenty of money to spare, and he certainly gives back as much as possible. He’s been with his wife for decades and is always a gentle and kind person to fans. There’s no denying that he’s just a big softie deep down.
11 Clint Eastwood Thinks The World Is Too Politically Correct
Clint Eastwood is probably one of the last guys you would want to mess with on the list. He’s been acting for decades and it’s rare that you see his character go easy on the other characters in the script. He’s one of the OG tough guys, and he’s not just that way on screen. Clint Eastwood isn’t afraid to admit that he thinks he’s just as tough in his day-to-day life as he is in the movies he played.
During Trump’s presidential run, Clint Eastwood would often stick up for him, stating that our generation needed to get over him being politically incorrect. For Clint, his idea of a tough guy is someone who isn’t afraid to be offensive and use problematic remarks. That might not be the politically correct definition of a tough guy, but it’s how he would describe it.
10 Harrison Ford Uses His Skills To Help
Harrison Ford is one of the most well-known heroes of all time. As Indiana Jones and Hans Solo, he’s become a role model for youngsters who watch his movies all over the world. His tough guy characters always know how to save the day. In real life, he’s an actual pilot, but he doesn’t always save the day. He’s been known to crash his airplanes a few times, never causing too much damage.
Still, there have been a few times that he managed to help find missing people in the mountains using his helicopter.
When it comes to categorizing him as either a big softie at heart or a real-life tough guy, we’d probably say that he’s a sweetie deep down inside. At the end of the day, he just wants to fly his planes.
9 Mel Gibson Has Made Headlines
Mel Gibson, actor, and director has been a part of plenty of films throughout his life. He’s also been a part of a high number of controversies as well. He’s had several ex-partners accuse him of being a terrible person.
When it comes to tough characters being scary in real life, he definitely plays that part. He’s also had recordings emerge of him saying some awful remarks, making him like a real-life villain. Some would say that this wouldn’t make him a “tough guy.” A real tough guy wouldn’t be abusive or make hateful comments to prove their strength. Still, he doesn’t differ much from some of the violent characters that he’s played in the past.
8 Chris Pratt Will Always Be Andy Dwyer
Chris Pratt has managed to convince fans that he’s a tough guy in roles for Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, and Passengers. He has a become a well-known celebrity and has even discussed how it’s difficult to maintain a normal day-to-day lifestyle as fans are constantly stopping him and asking for photographs. Before he became the six-pack-having-hunk that he’s known for being today, he played the goofy role of Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation.
Those who know Chris Pratt as Andy have trouble seeing past his new look and know that deep down, he’s still just a big goofball at heart.
He can’t just turn off his ability to be the cute and sweet Andy and all the charm that came with it. He still has a comedic tone to his roles and isn’t afraid to get funny for cameo parts, such as his role as a clingy lover to wife Anna Farris’s character on her sitcom Mom.
7 John Cena Thinks Tough Guys Hold Women's Hands
John Cena is a wrestler, actor, and entertainer, and as a member of the WWE family, it’s important for him to maintain a tough persona. As an actor outside of the wrestling world, John Cena is known for playing comedic roles in movies such as Trainwreck, Daddy’s Home, and Blockers. He has played a few serious roles like his part in The Marine. Still, many would think of him as a tough guy, including himself.
He stated that he believes a real tough guy holds a woman’s hand.
He’s known for dating fellow wrestler Nikki Bella, who has managed to get engaged despite his reluctance to get married and have kids. Unfortunately, they've recently broken up. He’s definitely stated he has a vulnerable side, but this tough guy still manages to be the real deal.
6 Dwayne Johnson Is Wrapped Around His Daughter's Finger
Dwayne Johnson is an actor that was originally known for being a wrestler. The Rock was one of the greatest wrestlers in the franchise for some, and many fans were devastated when he left the ring for the big screen. He’s ended up becoming one of the highest-paid actors, always playing the tough guy in countless action movies. In the real world, you probably couldn’t find a nicer guy than Dwayne Johnson. He’s always posting online about how much he loves his daughters, admitting he easily gives in to her toddler demands.
He might be a big beefy guy on screen, but in real life, Dwayne’s heart is his strongest muscle.
He’s a gentle dad to his daughters and is also a rather charitable person.
5 Christian Bale Yells At Lighting Guys
Christian Bale always plays powerful characters in the films he’s worked on. He’s usually someone going through a dark experience and must use his strength to power through. Most would picture him as a “tough guy” on screen. When it comes to his real-life character, some of the crew members might say the same thing about his personality.
When he was filming one of the new Terminator movies, he had an outburst on set, berating one of the lighting guys for not watching where he was going during the shooting of a scene. The crew member apparently got in the way, and Christian unleashed a rant filled insults that made him terrify the rest of the crew. He has since apologized, and many defended him for being in a stressful scenario, but still, it’s clear that the line between his tough-guy characters and the real Christian might be a bit fuzzy.
4 Iwan Rheon Used To Play An Invisible Nerd
Iwan Rheon might be one of the most hated men in the world for his role as the evil Ramsay Bolton on HBO’s Game of Thrones. His character is evil and torturous, always harming our favorite characters, even killing one off.
Although we’ll never forgive Ramsay Bolton, we do have to accept that Iwan Rheon couldn't be more different from his character.
Before his role on the hit HBO series, he played an awkward nerd on Misfits. Those who know him for any role other than his Game of Thrones characters might not see him for the tough guy he plays on screen. Many of the villains on Game of Thrones are some of the nicest actors in the business, always helping charities and raising awareness for issues that matter.
3 Danny Trejo Was Always A Rebel
Danny Trejo is best known for being a character actor, with many various roles throughout countless films and commercials. He’s known for playing some pretty tough roles, always being a bad boy killer or strong-man roles. The parts he played comes pretty naturally to him, however, and it doesn’t take much effort to prove he’s a tough guy.
Before making his way to the big screen, he has struggles by the age of 14 and was in and out of institutions. The acting wasn’t his first choice but only came upon the career when a friend he was sponsoring brought him to a set. When you seem him in a movie next, it’ll be clear to see that he’s not just playing a role.
2 Tom Hardy Used To Be A Myspace Model
Tom Hardy is known for playing serious characters that would certainly be categorized as tough guys. He’s usually someone with a dark past, like his characters in The Dark Knight Rises and Mad Max: Fury Road. He’s always collected and quiet, surely someone that would be scary to run into in real life.
Before he was the quiet and mysterious actor he is today, he was just some guy who liked to take pictures of himself for his Myspace profile. He’s certainly not as tough as you’d imagine, always posing silly in his underwear or blowing a kissy face while showing off his abs. It’s a crazy comparison when you look at the old Tom Hardy compared to the new one, but it just serves as a reminder that he’s not as tough as we always thought.
1 Steve Buscemi Saved Lives As A Firefighter
Steve Buscemi is known for being a character actor as well as some of the other tough guys on the list. He might not be the first to pop into your mind when it comes to “tough” or strong characters, but there’s no denying that he’s played some pretty rough characters in the past. Before he was an actor, however, he was saving lives in the real world.
He had gone to school for acting and dabbled in stand-up comedy before he started his career as a fireman.
At 22 years old, he joined the FDNY in 1980, working there for four years. After 9/11, he ended up joining again even though he was an established actor, to help for five days during rescue and clean-up. He’s proved past and present that he’s a legit tough guy.
Sources: 24 Wrestling, Daily Mail (2), Complex, Snopes, Rolling Stone (2), Metro, Hollywood Reporter, Telegraph, The Guardian, Independent, Irish Examiner, Vanity Fair, Buzzfeed, A.V. Club, Bustle, Elite Daily