According to Hollywood, only three things will survive Judgment Day: Cockroaches, Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton, and hot thespians with washboard abs. Don’t believe us? Check out these ten actors who manage to make doomsday look downright fun.
1. Kevin Costner
Costner almost destroyed an entire movie studio (along with, ya know, the world) with his turn in what was the most expensive movie ever made, Waterworld. In it the actor plays a fish-man who drinks his own urine on a quest to find dry land after a global flood. Then, Costner returned to the scene of the crime with The Postman (1997), which casts him as a Jesus-like pony express rider (the last one in the world). Still, at least he was no pee-drinking gill freak.
2. Emilio Estevez
Estevez kept a busy career running from global annihilations in the ’80s and ’90s. In Maximum Overdrive (1986), the only movie Stephen King has ever directed, Estevez is one of the few survivors of a Terminator-like machine uprising-slash-genocide. Then, as Alex Furlong in Freejack (1992), he plays a racecar driver taken to a dystopic future by bounty hunters (including Mick Jagger!), who want to replace his mind with that of an ailing billionaire.
3. Christian Bale
The Dark Knight himself surely has the chops to survive a biblical rain of fire, as he proved in 2002’s Reign of Fire where he fights off evil, man-eating dragons. Bale followed that performance with Equilibrium, set in an Orwellian future where feelings have been outlawed. And then of course, there’s this weekend’s Terminator Salvation, which finds Bale starring as the fourth actor to play John Connor — our only hope against the robo-pocalypse.
4. Milla Jovovich
Luc Besson’s ex-wife certainly knows her way around the end of the world. It was a long time coming, but by the third installment of the Resident Evil series (Extinction), the zombie-fied T-Virus has destroyed the world’s eco-system, and only Jovovich’s perfect genes can save us. The year before in Ultraviolet (2006), Jovovich was the lone good (or is that bad?) super-powered vampire in a world trying to protect itself against a vampiric virus.
5. Kurt Russell
In Escape From New York (1981), Kurt Russell gave attitude to the post-apocalypse as Snake Plissken, the only man bad-ass enough to rescue the President of the United States from a federal penitentiary called Manhattan. Though Escape From LA (1996) returned Snake to the movie screen, it was Soldier (1998) that gave Russell a new character, and a new apocalypse. Left for dead by genetically enhanced super soldiers, Russell has only his smarts and his stamina to fight back.
6. Julianne Moore
Sometimes the end of days isn’t all about “bang!” and “boom!” In Children of Men (2006), the end of the world happens slowly, over many years, as no new children are born. Only Moore knows of the first woman pregnant in years, and fights to protect her. Then in Blindness (2008), when people unexpectedly start losing their sight, Moore faces the end by pretending to be afflicted herself. Talk about the blind leading the… Well, you know the rest.
7. Will Smith
Mister July Fourth has survived Ragnarok on several occasions, most notably in Independence Day (1996), which finds Smith kicking E.T.’s butt both inside and outside of the cockpit — though not before most major U.S. cities have been decimated. And in I Am Legend (2007), Smith causes the neo-vampire apocalypse, which cuts off Manhattan (again) from the rest of the world, and causes his eventual, tearful demise.
8. Keanu Reeves
Johnny Mnemonic (1995) finds Reeves in a world where half the population suffers from a crippling nerve disease. But then of course there’s the Matrix trilogy, where the robo-pocalypse has destroyed the world, and only hacker supreme Keanu can save the day. Finally Reeves stands on the other side of war as alien harbinger Klaatu in The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008). Though the Earth survives that apocalypse, large swaths of it are still worse for the wear.
9. Arnold Schwarzenegger
No governor has done more to stave off the end of it all than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unfortunately, he’s not always successful, as we see at the conclusion of the Terminator trilogy (2003), or in The Running Man (1987). That adaptation of a Stephen King story predicts exactly our current reality television landscape, albeit with slightly less death. Ironically, only in End of Days (1999) does Schwarzenegger successfully stop the, well, end of days.
10. Charlton Heston
Is there any scene more iconic to the idea of post-apocalypse than Charlton Heston kneeling in the sand in front of the broken Statue of Liberty? That’s Planet of the Apes (1968), by the way, which has inspired twist endings in movies ever since. Heston also appeared in Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), and the 2001 remake of the original. The Omega Man (1971) finds Heston as literally the last man on an earth filled with mutants. And ask anyone, even those who haven’t see the movie, what Soylent Green (1973) is, and they’ll repeat Heston’s fateful words… “Soylent Green is people!”