10 Movie Tough Guy Roles with a Softer Side



There are many movies that make men feel like men as they watch actors rush into battle, woo woman after woman, or just have a level of confidence that we all desire. It’s hard to imagine some characters being anything less than manly but there are instances where a film takes a character who starts off manly and pushes them towards their sensitive side. Here are 10 movies where men play tough guys with a softer side.


10. Arnold Schwarzenegger - Kindergarten Cop


Arnold Schwarzenegger is known for being the unstoppable badass who can single handedly take on an army. With movies like “Terminator” and “Conan,” it was hard to picture Arnold in any sort of film with children until 1990 came along and “Kindergarten Cop” was released. Starting out as a hardened cop, Detective John Kimble goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher in order to catch a criminal. During this process we get some of the most memorable Schwarzenegger lines coming from his frustration with the children, while also seeing him grow to care for each of these children and letting his sensitivity show.


9. Vin Diesel - The Pacifier


Vin Diesel started getting noticed after “The Fast and the Furious,” playing the role of Dom. Since then he has been in a variety of action films playing a similar role as a reluctant hardened hero, hell even his name says action. In between the fast cars and battling aliens, Vin Diesel managed to play the role of Nanny in “The Pacifier.” When a government scientist is murdered in order to discover a secret hidden within his home, Navy SEAL Shane Wolfe (Diesel) is sent to protect the home and take care of the kids. Aside from the mission at hand we see Diesel’s parenting skills integrated with some military tactics. Throughout the movie we see Diesel change diapers, take the kids to school, and be there for them in their time of need, showing a side of Vin Diesel that hasn’t been seen in other films.


8. Sylvester Stallone - Stop or My Mom Will Shoot


Sylvester Stallone redefined boxing in the 70s and 80s being the mastermind behind the “Rocky” franchise and playing the lead character. From there he went on to the “Rambo” franchise and his latest project is “The Expendables” franchise. When it comes to action films, Stallone knows about everything that goes into making an action film. With the plethora of hardcore films he has been apart of, there was one role where his tough guy persona was questioned, and no I’m not talking about “Rhinestone,” that is too embarrassing to mention. In the film “Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot” Stallone plays a Sergeant for the police force who shows no mercy except when it comes to his mother. When his mother makes a visit she introduces his colleagues to his sensitive side by telling embarrassing childhood stories while becoming excessively involved in his work. Stallone puts aside his manhood and shows that he is a true “Mommy’s boy” in this film.


7. Dwayne Johnson - The Tooth Fairy


Dwayne Johnson AKA The Rock was one of the most electrifying people in WWE history. Because of his rise to fame in the WWE, he decided, like many other sports stars, that he should try out his acting skills. Unlike many other sports stars, Dwayne Johnson did very well and has proven himself as an action star. He was so influential that Arnold Schwarzenegger even passed the proverbial torch to him in the movie “The Rundown.” After doing many action films that weren’t successful at the box office, the roles weren’t flowing in like they used to, which may be the reason why he chose to do a film like “The Tooth Fairy.” As a rugged hockey player who lacks sensitivity, Derek Thompson is punished for hurting a child’s feelings by revealing that the tooth fairy is not real. His punishment is that he must be a tooth fairy for one week. During that week, Johnson is made to look like the most unmanly of men when he is forced to fly around in spandex with giant fairy wings. No matter how tough he may try to act in this film, his attire and the fact that he is a fairy shows the most sensitive side of Johnson we have seen.


6. Tommy Lee Jones - Man of the House


Tommy Lee Jones is known for playing the typical Texan cowboy. Whether he’s chasing fugitives, hunting down aliens, or grooming soldiers to go to war, he’s always had the tough grizzled persona. In his third appearance as a Marshall, he is assigned to protect a group of witnesses to a murder who happen to be college cheerleaders. While living with them in a confined house he deals with many female problems that these girls go through on a regular basis. He progressively grows attached to these girls and opens up to them about intimate details of his life while they try to help him reconnect with his daughter and find love.


5. Kurt Russell - Overboard


Kurt Russell, Snake Plissken himself, is a man that was able to play an action star into his 50s. Every now and then an actor falls into the romantic comedy realm and does a film for the females. In “Overboard” Kurt Russell plays a rugged carpenter who is screwed over by a rich heiress played by Goldie Hawn. When this heiress hits her head and gets amnesia, he plots revenge by convincing her she is his wife and has her act as mother to his children. Eventually Russell’s character begins to fall in love and wants her to stay after she eventually regains her memory. He starts to act out using many romantic gestures in an attempt to win her over and officially make her his wife while putting his tough guy persona aside.


4. Harrison Ford - Morning Glory


In the romantic comedy “Morning Glory” Harrison Ford plays a bitter and prestigious news anchor who is forced by the young producer into working for a pop culture oriented morning show. The producer (Rachel McAdams) has such admiration for Ford’s character that they start to build a father and daughter type relationship. This relationship forces Ford’s character to venture off from his rigid manly persona and open up to McAdams, showing a sensitive side that no one else sees.


3. Will Smith - Hitch


Will Smith has saved the world from aliens, fended off creatures of the night, and taken down entire drug cartels. In “Hitch” Will Smith plays Alex Hitchens, a man who teaches other men how to get women. When a desperate man seeks him out to gain the affection of another woman, Will Smith shows him what must be done in order for him to be a desirable man. When you’re playing a character that teaches men how to be men, I think you’ve proven yourself as a man multiple times. Smith is a well rounded actor but this film shows him going from ladies man to hopeless romantic when he meets a woman that gives him a run for his money. While he exudes confidence and poise in the beginning, his love interest pushes him to a point of desperation and sensitivity in an attempt to get the girl.

2. Patrick Swayze - Dirty Dancing


Although “Dirty Dancing” is one of the most well known chick flicks, Patrick Swayze’s character Johnny is a rebellious and tough loner that uses dancing as a means of finance. In this film it is again a woman that pushes him towards his sensitive side as he makes an elaborate romantic gesture in the end by performing a memorable dance with her at the end of the film. This is probably Swayze’s most memorable role and made him a sex idol among women. Although he went on to play many other sensitive roles, this role defined him as the tough guy with a softer side.


1. Mel Gibson - What Women Want


Nick Marshall, a chauvinist man who fails to see things from a female perspective, is suddenly electrocuted while testing out a variety of feminine products for his job. After he is awakened he finds that he can hear women’s thoughts which he uses to give him an edge in the bedroom and at his job in advertising. After an extended period of reading women’s minds he begins to truly understand them and sympathize with their needs, eventually changing his entire outlook. After disrespecting women for so long he finally gains respect for them and learns to be more sensitive himself.

About Ryan

First and foremost, Ryan Brown is a fan. He has been an avid fan of both the theater and cinema since an early age and his passion for both has been continually growing ever since. When dissecting a film, he focuses on all elements of film-making including some fan/cult factors. He believes that character development is the foundation of a good film and usually starts his analysis of a film from there moving forward. His writing style may be influenced by his background of narrative and argumentative studies in the subject, but he tends to enjoy a more conversational style to better interact with the readers, unlike some other pretentious and pompous writers.