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IMAGE: Conan the Destroyer
Everett Collection
Let's face it: Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't cast as Conan due to his acting abilities.
TODAY contributor
updated 8/15/2011 4:00:18 PM ET 2011-08-15T20:00:18

Women have been cast for their attractive bodies for decades in Hollywood. But it happens to male actors too, especially nowadays, with a glut of superhero and action movies.

Jason Momoa, who stars in the remake of "Conan the Barbarian," already showed off his shape in HBO's "Game of Thrones" and earlier on "Baywatch Hawaii." Here's a look at a few other actors who've recently muscled their way into movies.

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson
Before Hollywood:
College football, the Canadian Football League and then, most famously, the WWE, where "The Rock" was born.

The Role: Proved himself a funny “Saturday Night Live” host, so Hollywood naturally cast him as the stern, stoic, side of meat Scorpion King in “The Mummy Returns.” Then he had to do it again in “The Scorpion King.”

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The Aftermath: The Schwarzenegger who can act. He's at his best when he gets to be funny or affect a tongue-in-cheek swagger like in “Fast Five.” Has enough clout to build himself a biopic project about African-American country music pioneer Charley Pride, singing skills to be determined later.

Story: Comparing the Conans: Arnold vs. Jason

Chris Hemsworth
Before Hollywood:
Surfing in Australia. Eventually cast on the Aussie soap “Home and Away,” appearing in over 170 episodes.

The Role: Beat out his own brother for the role of “Thor” and, while the movie emphasized Hemsworth’s physicality, the actor wisely brought an intentionally comic-book-sized, comedic pro-wrestler swagger to the role.

The Aftermath: Well, there’s that little indie film called “The Avengers” coming up.

Video: Watch the 'Conan The Barbarian' trailer (on this page)

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Before Hollywood: Breakout bodybuilding star of the 1970s. Famously had his voice dubbed in 1969’s “Hercules In New York” before appearing as a mute hit man in Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye.”

The Role: 1982’s “Conan The Barbarian,” where he proved that speaking intelligible English wasn’t always necessary for film stardom.

Story: New 'Conan' star never saw Arnold's 'Conan'

The Aftermath: Became one of the biggest movie stars in the world, married a Kennedy and somehow wound up the governor of California. Has maintained a mostly charmed life. Even that Planet Hollywood fiasco and a marriage-destroying affair seem to inspire more talk show jokes than public scorn.

Slideshow: Hollywood’s shirtless studs (on this page)

Taylor Lautner
Before Hollywood: Juice boxes — he was born in 1992. Also appeared in a variety of child actor-ready roles, mostly under the radar. Did you see “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl in 3D?” No, you didn’t.

The Role: Jacob in “Twilight.”

The Aftermath: Almost lost the role of Jacob when it was determined he wasn’t enough of a real-life beefy teen wolf. Unlike the other men in this roundup, he was almost fired due to lack of body and had to bulk up, essentially re-auditioning with a new, improved physique in order to save his stardom. Yes, Hollywood is weird.

Story: 'Conan the Barbarian' is all carnage and no story

Who's the hunkiest hunk in Hollywood? Tell us on Facebook.

Dave White is the movies critic for movies.com.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: Watch the 'Conan The Barbarian' trailer

Photos: Shirtless studs

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  1. Smoothly chiseled

    For "Elysium," Matt Damon stripped the hair from his head and the shirt from his chest, telling press he spent four hours a day working out to get that six-pack. (Columbia Pictures-Sony) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Five alarm

    Taylor Kinney creates a hot environment every time he takes off his shirt while playing Kelly Severide on NBC's "Chicago Fire." (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. First place

    Rob Wilson of Boston was chosen via online competition to be the first male model on "The Price is Right"; he'll begin work on the show in October. (CBS via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Tat's a fact

    Flo Rida busted out his singing skills and his other assets on TODAY in July 2012. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Shirtless for America

    Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers, who starts off 2011's "Captain America: The First Avenger" as a puny weakling declared 4-F by the army. A dose of Super Soldier serum fixes him right up. (Marvel Entertainment) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Crazy!

    Ryan Gosling bares his chest in 2011's "Crazy, Stupid Love," playing a friend who teaches Steve Carell's character how to date after divorce. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Conan the Pec-tarian

    Jason Momoa, who plays Dothraki horselord Khal Drogo in HBO's "Game of Thrones" series, stars in the 2011 remake of "Conan the Barbarian." Arnold Schwarzenegger played the role back in 1982, but this version is in 3D. (Lionsgate) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Godlike muscles

    Chris Hemsworth plays Norse god sent to Earth as a superhero in 2011's "Thor." Perhaps he's just not used to earth clothing. () Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Taking on the Predators

    Adrien Brody isn't the first name that comes to mind when you think of hulky actors, but the Oscar-winner bulked up to play a mercenary in "Predators." Taking a tip from Arnold Schwarzenegger in the original film, he smeared his body with mud to confuse the Predators' heat vision. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Prince of Purr-sia

    In 2010's "Prince of Persia," Jake Gyllenhaal's toned figure brought the heat to the desert. (Walt Disney Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. More than a pretty Face

    To play Templeton "Faceman" Peck, Bradley Cooper brought out his A game for 2010's "A-Team." (Doug Curran / 20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Right on the Mark

    Holbrooke, played by Mark Wahlberg, was happily willing to give Tina Fey and Steve Carell the shirt off his back in 2010's "Date Night." (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Hunky like the wolf

    In "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," released in 2009, Taylor Lautner's ripped pecs made werewolf Jacob a force to reckon with. (Summit Entertainment) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Traveling with their pack

    Lautner wasn't the only shirtless stud in Forks, Wash. Werewolves Paul, Embry and Sam, played by Alex Meraz, Kiowa Gordon and Chaske Spencer, showed off their washboard abs in "The Twilight Saga: New Moon." (Summit Entertainment) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Love at first bite

    Vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) wasn't shirtless as often as Jacob and the wolf pack in "New Moon," but he did offer up an occasional glimpse of his sparkly skin. (Summit Entertainment) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Great Scot!

    Gerard Butler almost put audiences in cardiac arrest with his sculpted torso in "Law Abiding Citizen" in 2009. (Overture Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. On closer inspection

    Audiences didn't mind investigating the famed detective's anatomy when Robert Downey Jr. played the lead in 2009's "Sherlock Homes." (Warner Bros. Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Putting the man in adamantium

    With Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, the claws weren't the only thing that audiences were looking forward to seeing in 2009's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Golden boy

    Thanks to Matthew McConaughey's six pack, his character Ben "Finn" Finnegan in 2008's "Fool's Gold" made audiences rush in. (Warner Bros. Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Double-oh-heaven

    Daniel Craig as James Bond in 2006's "Casino Royale" left audience members shaken and stirred. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. A body to die for

    He may have been a scumbag, but it was easy to see why the ladies fell for John Tucker, played by Jesse Metcalfe, in 2006's, "John Tucker Must Die." (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Ain't nothing but a G-string

    In 2006's "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," viewers saw a lot of Sacha Baron Cohen's character Borat -- perhaps too much. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Nacho, nacho man

    Jack Black showed his stuff as Nacho, a priest-turned-wrestler, in 2006's "Nacho Libre." (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Scared shirtless

    Not even the paranormal stopped Ryan Reynolds from walking around half-naked as haunted homeowner George Lutz in "The Amityville Horror," released in 2005. (MGM) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Quite a thrilla

    Will Smith was "ab"-solutely fabulous when he played legendary boxer Muhammad Ali in 2001's "Ali." (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Killer body

    Cold-blooded murderer Patrick Bateman, portrayed by Christian Bale in 2000's "American Psycho," was a fan of staying tan. (Lion's Gate Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. No shoes? No shirt? No problem!

    As Tyler Durden, Brad Pitt made having a terrific build the first rule of 1999's "Fight Club." (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Shirts or skins?

    Denzel Washington's muscular biceps played with hearts when he portrayed Jake Shuttlesworth in "He Got Game," released in 1998. (Buena Vista Pictures ) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Damme he's fine

    Jean-Claude Van Damme was indeed the Muscles from Brussels in "No Retreat, No Surrender (aka Karate Tiger)" in 1986. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Ripped Republican

    Bodybuilding paid off for California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played the lead in "Conan the Destroyer," released in 1984. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Leaving us breathless

    Richard Gere as Michel played a thief who stole hearts with his terrific body in 1983's "Breathless." (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. The Italian stallion

    Sylvester Stallone caught more than the eye of the tiger in as the never-say-die boxer in "Rocky III," released in 1976. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Hunk o' Love

    After seeing the King's physique in 1963's "Fun in Acapulco," Elvis Presley fans were even more smitten with their man. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. As the Romans do

    Marlon Brando's barely-there costume as Mark Antony in 1953's "Julius Caesar" made viewers want to go on a Roman holiday. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Wild thing

    Audience members heard the call of the wild watching Johnny Weissmuller in 1932's "Tarzan." (Everett Collection ) Back to slideshow navigation
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