Many actors can play better cops than real cops, and some of their roles have become iconic after stellar performances. In both film and real life, police officers have a very important role, which is why these movie roles are so memorable to film lovers.
So, here are some actors who have been cops in real life.
1. Steve Wilkos
This actor got a gig as security for The Jerry Springer Show, and he turned it into a successful daytime talk show. At the time, he was a cop in Chicago.
He got into acting after a friend offered him the off-duty job as security for Springer. That set him on the path towards becoming a talk show host.
He has also played a couple of film and movie roles in Between Brothers, The Wayans Bros. and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
2. Dennis Farina
Many people might know Dennis Farina for his role as Michael Mann in Miami Vice or as Joe Fontana in Law & Order. However, before he got fully into acting, he had been a cop for almost two decades.
The actor passed away in 2013, and he admitted to having had very little training as an actor and only did it for some extra cash. In fact, his first roles overlapped with his law enforcement career.
3. David Zayas
Before working in the homicide department in Dexter, David Zayas was a real cop for the NYPD for 15 years. He went to acting school while still a cop, and that’s when he realized he was meant to be an actor.
In fact, he would run his lines with his partner during the midnight shift before attending auditions. His first role was that of a cop in the series, The Beat.
4. Dan Aykroyd
Dan Aykroyd may be popular for his roles in Blues Brother and Ghostbuster. However, he also spent about 20 years as a reserve police officer in Louisiana and Mississippi.
He is also among celebrities who support police officers, and actually has a foundation, Blue Line Foundation.
5. J.W. Cortes
Cortes is a remarkable actor, and his role as Detective Carlos Alvarez on Gotham is unforgettable. However, the actor may have been relying on his past career as an actual police officer to deliver his best performance in this role.
In fact, he even worked with the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority while still an actor on the show. He also happens to be a marine combat veteran who served in Iraq.
6. Erik Estrada
You might remember Erik Estrada as a California Highway Patrol officer in CHiPs. Apparently, this inspired him to become a reserve officer in Idaho at the St. Anthony Police Department in 2016.
His focus is on kids who might turn into victims of online predators. The actor admitted that he grew up hoping to become a cop, although he decided to pursue acting instead.
7. Lou Ferrigno
For years, Lou was fighting bad guys on television as The Incredible Hulk.
Later, he decided it was time to do it for real by becoming a reserve deputy in California and Texas, where he became a “real-life hero, protecting life and property.”
He is obviously very proud of his police powers, and he says it’s all real and not just an honorary thing as some people seem to think.
8. James Woods
The acting legend is popular for his roles in Casino and Once Upon a Time in America, Nixon, and Contact. He once played a character who kidnapped two cops and killed one of them.
In real life, he was a reserve officer for the LAPD. Shortly after 9/11, he reported suspicious behavior during a flight, which means he might have prevented another terrorist attack.
9. Dean Cain
He was Superman from 1993 to 1997 in the popular series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. However, in 2018, he decided to become a real-life hero by joining the Idaho Police Department as a reserve officer.
That makes Dean one of the most famous police officers in the world today. He can now patrol the streets beside full-time officers in the community.
10. Chuck Norris
Chuck Norris is considered by many to be the ultimate tough guy, and there are many popular jokes about him to prove it.
However, the acting star also worked as a real police officer with the Texas Police Department in 1997, and he helped stop drug crimes in Terrell.
11. Steven Seagal
Steven Seagal has built a movie career based on his martial arts skills, and he is often playing the role of a law enforcer in his films. However, since the 80s, he has worked with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff Department.
12. Carol Shaya
Ironically, Carol Shaya was relieved of her role as a real-life cop after she appeared in the 1994 issue of Playboy. Since then, she has focused on a career as a personal trainer, actress, and model.
13. Matthew G. Taylor
Born Matthew Gordon, this Canadian actor was formerly a police officer before he took up acting. Since becoming an actor, he has appeared in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, among other cinematic productions.
13. Ken Osmond
As a child actor, Ken Osmond was quite successful. His acting career began at the young age of four, and he is best known for his role in Leave It to Beaver, a 50s sitcom.
After his acting roles, he came a Los Angeles Police officer and acted as a motorman and vice officer. Osmond was even shot in 1980 in the line of duty, although a vest saved his life.
14. Barney Martin
Most people know Barney for his role as Morty in Seinfeld. He also appeared in The Producers and The Honeymooners.
However, before his acting career took off, he was a New York police officer for two decades.
15. Randy Jurgensen
The New York born actor appeared in over 30 films. However, he was formerly a NYPD detective.
Randy is known for his roles in Superman (1978), and The French Connection (1971).
16. Bo Dietl
Bo, born Richard Dietl, is an actor and a producer. He is popular for many film roles, including his part in 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
Before he got into acting, he was a police detective with the NYPD. He was also a media personality who contributed to the Fox News Network and Imus in the Morning.
Clearly, there are many actors who have been cops at some points in their lives.
In fact, it is not just actors who have been part of law enforcement. Many other celebrities have been cops as well, including the king of rock and roll himself, Elvis Presley, basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, American singer Ted Nugent, and singer-songwriter Eddie Money.