Remember When Dennis Rodman Briefly Became a Hollywood Action Star?

Once upon a time, Dennis Rodman was a movie star.

Every season, a ton of new NBA stars get their time in the spotlight. But few truly manage to transcend the sport to become pop culture icons. Basketball legends such as Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and the late Kobe Bryant all found ways to become much more than athletes. They created brands of their very own, which led to opportunities far away from the court.

And in the late 1990s, the same briefly happened with Rodman. From 1995 to 1998, Rodman played for the Chicago Bulls. His eccentric personality and behavior made him well-known. So it didn’t take long for Hollywood to begin searching for ways to make the NBA star a big-screen icon as well.

Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman | Achim Scheidemann/picture alliance via Getty Images

Dennis Rodman made headlines in the 1990s for more than his career

Rodman began his NBA career with the Detroit Pistons in 1986. But by the time he got to the Bulls, he had developed a notorious reputation as a bad boy. Regardless of his performance on the court, Rodman proved to be a controversial figure for a variety of reasons. Among them was his signature combination of piercings, tattoos, and wildly colored hair.

This look certainly got Rodman noticed, but he also made headlines for his personal life as well. For instance, the Bulls power forward was romantically linked to Madonna and was married to model Carmen Electra for less than a year. Rodman was everywhere for awhile. He even notoriously wore a wedding dress to promote his 1996 autobiography.

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The NBA star launched a short-lived run as an action movie star

With all this momentum built up, Hollywood came calling. And Rodman made his feature film debut in 1997’s Double Team. The action-comedy paired the basketball player with action superstar Jean-Claude Van Damme. The duo played an arms dealer and a spy, respectively, who must team up to take down a terrorist (Mickey Rourke).

Bringing in only $11 million at the box office, Double Team earned Rodman three Golden Raspberry awards for his role, including Worst New Star. Nonetheless, he headlined another movie just two years later. 1999’s Simon Sez — which co-stars comedian Dane Cook — was an even bigger disaster. Against a $10 million production budget, the movie earned just $292,000.

After that crushing failure, Rodman’s acting career didn’t persist much longer. He joined the cast of syndicated action TV series Soldier of Fortune, Inc. for its second and final season in 1998. And starred opposite Tom Berenger and Stephen Baldwin in a 2000 TV movie titled Cutaway. Since then, most of his credits are limited to cameos as himself.

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Rodman’s final season with the Bulls was also the last for Michael Jordan

Since the 1990s, Rodman’s star hasn’t shined nearly as brightly. But he has remained a reality TV fixture, having appeared on the UK’s Celebrity Big Brother, Love Island, and Celebrity Mole. In 2009, Rodman was even a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice. More recently, the former NBA player developed an unlikely friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

But Rodman’s heyday is experiencing a bit of a resurgence now with the popularity of the ESPN documentary series The Last Dance. The show takes a deep dive into the iconic 1997-1998 for the Chicago Bulls. While it centers mostly on Jordan’s final year with the team, The Last Dance also includes a lot of Rodman, who — like Jordan — left the Bulls after that year was over.