Cara Delevingne, Kate Upton, Rene Russo, and More Models Turned Actresses

As Cara Delevingne takes on her first major motion picture role in Paper Towns, The Daily Beast ranks our favorite models-turned-actresses from best to worst.

Photo Illustration by Alex Williams/The Daily Beast

Photo Illustration by Alex Williams/The Daily Beast


Time and time again, the world’s most successful fashion models attempt to dip their toes in the thespian pool. Maybe it’s to prove their talent goes beyond beauty? Maybe they think age has led their looks to no longer be relevant? Or maybe modeling was just a side step on their way to winning multiple silver screen awards? Whatever the case may be, attempts at acting accolades can be a dicey maneuver for all parties involved. As Cara Delevingne takes on her first official starring role in Paper Towns, The Daily Beast ranks our favorite models-turned-actresses from best to worst—starting with Cybill Shepherd's rise to Hollywood fame, all the way down to Naomi Campbell's seriously disasterous cameos. 

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Cybill Shepherd

Modeling Fame: Spokeswoman for L’Oreal; Covers of Glamour, Vogue, People, and Rolling Stone
Films: The Last Picture Show (1971), The Heartbreak Kid (1972), Taxi Driver (1976)
Television: Moonlighting (1985–1989), Cybill (1995-1998), The L Word (2007-2009)

Shepherd made the switch to Hollywood when director Peter Bogdanovich spotted her on the cover of Glamour magazine in 1970. In 1971, her debut role in The Last Picture Show led her to a Golden Globe nomination for ‘Most Promising Newcomer.’ Later, her television gig on Moonlighting, where she starred alongside Bruce Willis, landed her two Golden Globes. 

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Rene Russo

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Versace, Revlon, and Chanel; Covers of Vogue (nine times), Mademoiselle, and Cosmopolitan
Films: Sable (1987), Major League (1989), Lethal Weapon 3/4 (1992/1998), Ransom (1996), Thomas Crown Affair (1999), Yours, Mine, and Ours (2005), Thor (2013)

When Russo’s modeling opportunities began to dwindle at age 30, she made the switch to acting, which proved to be a successful move, with appearances in a number of star-studded films alongside the likes of Mel Gibson, Pierce Brosnan, Clint Eastwood, and Anthony Hopkins.

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Milla Jovovich

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for  Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Versace; Editorials in Vogue Paris, W, and Purple; Muse to Miuccia Prada; Starred in Revlon’s ‘Most Unforgettable Women in the World’ campaign alongside Alexa Singer and Sandra Zatezalo
Films: Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991), Dazed and Confused (1993), The Fifth Element (1997), Resident Evil serise (2004-Present)

The Ukranian model seemlessly transitioned into a strong role as an actress, from her controversial role in Return to the Blue Lagoon, to the commercially-successful Resident Evil series. "[My mum] raised me to be a movie star," Jovovich told The Telegraph in 2007. And that's exactly what she's become.

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Cara Delevingne

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Burberry, Mulberry, and Saint Laurent; Editorials in British Vogue, W, and Interview; Runways of Chanel, Stella McCartney, and Fendi; BFA’s 2012 ‘Model of the Year’
Films: Anna Karenina (2012), Kids in Love (post-production), The Face of an Angel, London Fields, Paper Towns, Tulip Fever, Pan, Suicide Squad

Following a small role in Anna Karenina , the 22-year-old supermodel is hoping to make a seamless entry into the acting world. She's even scored a leading role in John Green's Paper Towns, opening this weekend. With a slew of movies on the horizon, it’s still TBD whether Delevingne’s model-turned-actress gig will be a hit…or a flop. But she shows plenty of promise.

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Brooke Shields

Modeling Fame: Campaign for Calvin Klein; At 14, became the youngest model to ever appear on the cover of Vogue
Films: Pretty Baby (1978), The Blue Lagoon (1980), Endless Love (1981)
Television: Suddenly Susan (1996-2000)

Shields accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime by the time she was 14. From her campaign with the iconic tagline, "You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing," to her controversial role in Pretty Baby, Shields was at the top of the modeling and acting charts by the early eighties.

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Amber Valletta

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, and Versace; Editorials in Interview, Love, and Vogue
Films: Hitch (2005), Garner (2009), The Spy Next Door (2010)
Television: Revenge (2011-Present)

With the success of Hitch and the hit series Revenge, Valletta's sexy transition from model to actress has turned out to be quite a hit. 

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Jaime King

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Revlon and Rocawear; Editorials in Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, and Allure; Runways of Chanel and Christian Dior; Hosted MTV series House of Style (1998) with Rebecca Romijn
Films: Pearl Harbor (2011), White Chicks (2004), Sin City (2005), My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)
Television: Hart of Dixie (2011-Present)

After a short but successful modeling career, King broke out on the silver screen in the 2001 hit Pearl Harbor. Ever since, she's become one of Hollywood's biggest rising stars.

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Brooklyn Decker

Modeling Fame: Editorials in Vanity Fair, GQ, and Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition (covered the 2010 issue)
Films: Just Go With It (2011), Battleship (2012), What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012)
TV:  Friends With Better Lives (2014)

Decker has admitted to hating her modeling years, so it's a good thing she can act! Although she scored a few minor movie roles over the years, Decker's new foray into television is both smart and impressive.

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Elizabeth Hurley

Modeling Fame: 15+ year-long contract with Estee Lauder; 3 British Vogue Covers
Films: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), Bedazzled (2000)

Hurley, currently starring on the E! channel series The Royals, proved to have deft comic timing in Austin Powers, though the juicy film roles soon escaped her.

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Agyness Deyn

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Giorgio Armani, Vivienne Westwood, and Jean-Paul Gaultier; Editorials in Vogue, Elle, and Love; Named one of the ‘Top 30 Models of the 2000s’ by Vogue Paris
Films: Clash of the Titans (2010), Pusher (2012), Electricity (2014)

Deyn seemingly gave up modeling for acting in 2012, and although she was an editorial star, her foray into Hollywood is an exciting—and promising—move.

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Tyra Banks

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent and Ralph Lauren; Covers of Elle and Vogue; Runways of Valentino and Fendi; First African American woman to cover GQ, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and the Victoria’s Secret Catalog; Named ‘Supermodel of the Year’ by VH1 in 1997
Films: Higher Learning (1994), Love Stinks (1999), Life-Size (2000), Coyote Ugly (2000)

Tyra Banks's acting career went about just as far as her Life-Size co-star Lindsay Lohan.

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Claudia Schiffer

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Guess, Chanel, and D&G; Covers of Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar; Runways of Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, and Versace; Was the first model to cover non-fashion magazines Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, and People
Films: Richie Rich (1994), The Blackout (1997), Friends & Lovers (1999), Love Actually (2003)

There's something to be said when the best role you play is yourself.

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Lauren Hutton

Modeling Fame: Featured on the cover of Vogue a record 41 times (including the 1999 millennium cover) and a 20-year long Revlon campaign
Films: The Gambler (1974), American Gigolo (1980), The Joneses (2009)

Hutton’s modeling career proved to be more successful than acting, as most of her film roles were minor ones and many of her television gigs were short lived.

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Elle Macpherson

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Revlon and H&M; Covers of Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar; Appeared in every issue of Elle for six straight years; Five for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit covers (record number); Nicknamed “The Body”
Films: Sirens (1993), Batman & Robin (1997), The Edge (1997)

Macpherson may have set records in the fashion industry—but the silver screen just isn't her thing.

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Kate Upton

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Guess, David Yurman, and Sam Edelman; Editorials in Vogue, CR Fashion Book, and V; Covered Vanity Fair’s 100th Anniversary Issue; Named Sports Illustrated’s ‘Rookie of the Year’ in 2011 and later covered two subsequent issues.
Films: Tower Heist (2011), The Three Stooges (2012), The Other Woman (2014)

Maybe it's time Kate Upton settled with movie fame via Cat Daddy.

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Kate Moss

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, and Louis Vuitton; Covers of Vanity Fair, W, and British Vogue (30+); Runways of Louis Vuitton and Stella McCartney; Named one of Time magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ in 2007
Films: Inferno (1992), Blackadder Back & Forth (1999)

A TV movie and a short film does not an actress make. And Moss knows that.

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Christie Brinkley

Modeling Fame: 3 consecutive Sports Illustrated Swimsuit covers; 25-year-long contract with CoverGirl (longest running cosmetics contract in history)
Films: National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), Vegas Vacation (1997)

Brinkley has a long list of successful ventures—The National Lampoon enterprise just isn't one of them.

Ian Gavan

Cindy Crawford

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Versace, Revlon, and Escada; Covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle; Runways of Versace and Michael Kors
Films: Fair Game (1995), The Simian Line (2001)
Television: MTV’s House of Style (1989-1995)

"I am not good at acting," Crawford recently told Oprah. Honesty is the best policy.

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Gisele Bündchen

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Louis Vuitton, Versace, and Givenchy; Editorials in ElleGQ, and Marie Claire; Runways of Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana, and Valentino; Donned two Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bras; Highest paid model in the world since 2004; Named one of Time magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ in 2007

Films: Taxi (2004), The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Bündchen’s most notable role may have been playing an assistant at Runway magazine (The Devil Wears Prada’s on-screen version of Vogue), but the only place the supermodel really belongs is on the cover.

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Heidi Klum

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Jordache, Ann Taylor, and New Balance; Covers of InStyle, Cosmopolitan, and Elle UK; First German model to become a Victoria’s Secret Angel
Films: Blow Dry (2001), Ella Enchanted (2004)

In an interview with German GQ, Karl Lagerfeld described Klum as too "bling bling" for fashion. Guess the same goes for Hollywood. 

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Naomi Campbell

Modeling Fame: Campaigns for Versace, Roberto Cavalli, and Dolce & Gabbana; Editorials in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and InStyle; Runways of Diane von Furstenberg, Alaia, and Zac Posen; First African American model to appear on the cover of French Vogue
Films: Miami Rhapsody (1995), Invasion of Privacy (1996), Prisoner of Love (1999)

There’s a reason Campbell leaves acting off her resume.