On-Screen Bikers - Who rides motorcycles in real life

Motorcycles on the big and small screen bring an additional interest for riders whether watching the latest action blockbuster or a favorite series.

But does that action star or well-known face roaring across the scene actually ride off-screen as well? Clutch and Chrome rode through a sea of entertainment to find actors and actresses who shared top-billing with a motorcycle on-screen only to continue that passion when the cameras stopped rolling.

There are a multitude of motorcycle articles about celebrities who ride motorcycles in their own time. This article will focus on those who ride motorcycles on-screen and also enjoy some saddle time when not in front of the camera.

Clutch and Chrome won’t use this opportunity to debate whether the star in question actually rode the motorcycle in a movie or television show. As far as that question is concerned, the more prominent an actor or actress is in a movie or television series, the less likely they’ll actually sit in the saddle for any onscreen action. Directors and producers can’t afford a motorcycle mishap sidelining their star and companies that insure productions certainly won’t allow it.

So, who fakes it and who doesn’t?

Looking first to actresses who famously rode onscreen, Mara Rooney took the role of biker to an intense destination when she starred as Lisbeth Salander in the latest version of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’. Adapted from the famous and dark crime novel by the Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson, the movie had Rooney roaring from grey place to greyer place uncovering clues.

According to an interview with CinemaBlend in 2011, Rooney was as unconventional as the role she played. Not only did the actress need to learn how to smoke and handle a skateboard but was also sent to Stockholm ahead of production to learn how to ride a motorcycle.

“The motorcycle was definitely the thing that I was least excited about doing,” Rooney told CinemaBlend, “It just seemed dangerous to me.”

While the actress rode the motorcycle in many of the shots seen on-screen, Rooney’s comments leave us to believe she wasn’t bitten by the biker-bug.

Mara Rooney as seen in 'Girl with a Dragon Tattoo'

The same can’t be said for Angelina Jolie. Appearing on motorcycles as Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider movie series and again in Salt when she played a Russian double agent, Jolie was reportedly a seasoned rider long before the a director shouted ‘action’.

And it was all for love.

When Jolie and Brad Pitt started dating, the actress, producer and philanthropist took an interest in his passion, riding motorcycles. Some of the more interesting pictures to be found on the internet show Jolie and Pitt heading out on a desert road with a pair of BMW Motorrad dual purpose motorcycles.

Aside from the cluttered calendar the sexiest woman alive must surely keep and family commitments she enjoys, we’re sure the motorcycle passions still ride with Angelina Jolie

Speaking of off-road motorcycles, this was the choice of the most famous spy of them all, James Bond and his appearance in the 2012 ‘Skyfall’ movie. In the popular Bond film, Daniel Craig’s spy of spies rides a Honda CRF250R bike in the opening sequence chase scene that was filmed in Turkey.

While he’s the first to admit to staying away from the stunts, Craig appears to enjoy his motorcycle time off-camera. Pictures taken by paparazzi in 2014 of Craig at a Ducati Triumph dealership in New York City hints the British actor not only enjoys some saddle time, but it’s of a classic nature.

Clutch and Chrome will stay with the British thespians for a moment and shift gears to the small screen. When creators of the popular television show ‘House M.D.’ wanted the lead character to have the appearance of someone who pushed the envelope, they put him on a sportsbike. He rides a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade throughout the show and at one point test rides an Aprilia RSV1000R.

Hiring a British actor who was more known for his comedic appearance than any dramatic roles undertaken, Hugh Laurie easily made the lead role of the successful medical drama his own. Not only does Gregory House, M.D know his cutting edge medicine, the good doctor likes power in his motorcycles.

However, what’s seen on-screen and what the actor enjoys off-screen are night and day. Laurie used a 2004 Triumph Bonneville, a motorcycle he referred to as ‘an absolute classic’ for his commute while staying in Los Angeles during the filming of the series which ended in 2012.

What about roles that are truly out of this world? Two actors who are as well known for their good looks as they are the spectacular roles that feature their names, Chris Evans and Chris Pine have co-starred with motorcycles as superheroes, starship captains and secret agents.

Actor Chris Evans played the Human Torch in Marvel’s first movie version of the Fantastic Four and Captain America in several highly successful cinema franchises. In both of those roles Evans found himself on Harley-Davidson’s. From living life on the edge as the Human Torch to battling generations of enemies as Captain America so it would be easy to assume Evans has a stable of motorcycles parked in the garage.

Not so.

“I’m not a motorcycle guy,” Evans told the Daily Mirror while promoting ‘Captain America-The Winter Soldier’ in 2014, “I’d rather jump on a horse than ride a bike. I did it and it was fine, but it’s just not for me.”

Captain America and his Harley-Davidson Street 750 - Source Harley-Davidson

While Clutch and Chrome can’t verify whether Chris Pine owns his own motorcycle, everything indicates he’s a little more enthusiastic about riding than his fellow Chris. This actors on-screen saddle time has included a Ducati in the spy thriller ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ and something out of this world in both ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Trek Beyond’.

The actor told MTV News that he did “a lot” of his own stunt work for ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’, including some dangerous maneuvering on a motorcycle at speeds up to 50 mph.

“I think the most fun I had was riding this motorcycle in and out of the traffic in New York, which was frightening but a lot of fun,” he said.

Made with a much smaller budget but certainly more motorcycle screen time, the 2008 Canadian drama ‘One Week’ saw familiar face Joshua Jackson riding a 1973 Norton Commando riding across Canada. Science Fiction fans may remember Jackson from his leading role in the FOX hit ‘Fringe’ but this film was much more grounded with the character taking a road trip on the news he has an aggressive form of cancer in its fourth and final stage.

Although it’s a somber storyline for a motorcycle movie, Jackson has been seen on much lighter rides around Los Angeles on his Triumph motorcycle putting him in the definite ‘yes’ column of two-wheeled time off screen as well as on it.

Moving from Science Fiction and Canada to an actor seen in the fantasy world of ‘Game of Thrones’. While Jason Momoa may be famous for his role of Khal Drogo, a more recent movie appearance was that of a biker in the 2014 movie ‘The Road to Paloma’. Directed, produced, co-written by and starring Momoa, the motorcycle featured in the movie was actually built by the familiar actor.

With Momoa comparing the making of the movie to that of building a custom motorcycle, where both need a small, trusted group of close friends to be done successfully, it’s fair to say this actor is a diehard biker.

There are few actors who have created an interest in a motorcycle brand as Arnold Schwarzenegger did with Harley-Davidson’s Fat Boy. The chosen ride of the ‘Terminator’ in the second edition of the famous series, the motorcycle was the best known co-star in ‘Judgement Day’, from the spectacular jump to shooting a shotgun from the saddle.

For an actor so strongly associated with motorcycles, it’s surprising how few Schwarzenegger movies feature our favorite two-wheeled past time. However, what he lacks on screen the Austrian born actor makes up for off-screen. Schwarzenegger was a familiar sight around Los Angeles riding mostly solo but with an occasional sidecar. It was with his son in the sidecar in 2006 when the Governor Schwarzenegger rode into troubling headlines after an accident revealed the actor didn’t have a motorcycle license.

We’re sure the license issue was fixed and can confirm the famous 1990 Fat Boy seen in ‘Terminator 2’ was acquired for the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.

Four famous actors rode out Disney’s 2007 hit ‘Wild Hogs’ with Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy playing middle-aged men who take a cross-country road trip to relieve the boredom in their lives. But what sort of experience did the actors have and do they still ride?

According to reports, John Travolta was an experienced rider who was comfortable with Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Tim Allen rode sport bikes before the production of Wild Hogs, but never sat in the saddle of a cruiser. Both William Macy and Martin Lawrence were completely new to riding.

To train the actors with their new rides ‘Wild Hogs’ stunt coordinator Jack Gill started the crew out on dirt bikes, graduating them to riding cruisers around the twisting roads of Malibu Canyon.

So who still rides?

Tim Allen is a big gear head and reportedly loves anything with an engine, including motorcycles. Allen last made headlines in 2014 with his purchase of Brawler GT-R performance cruiser built by Dar Holdsworth and the crew at Brass Balls Cycles.

Out of the four actors, John Travolta started with the highest motorcycle profile, famously appearing in a Honda motorcycle commercial in the early seventies. However, being an avid pilot it appears Travolta spends more time in the air than he does out on the open road.

Another actor who left the motorcycle passion on the screen is Martin Lawrence. Outside of promoting the movie itself, Clutch and Chrome couldn’t find any references to Lawrence jumping back in the saddle.

William H Macy on the other hand became a born-again biker after ‘Wild Hogs’. When younger, Macy rode a scooter while in college and found the adjustment to larger cruisers when filming ‘Wild Hogs’ a little difficult at first.

"They're big motorcycles, but Lordy, what a feeling,” Macy said in an interview at the time, “Only people who have ridden understand that feeling of freedom and lawlessness and living on the edge. I am seriously hooked!”

Indeed, at the time he regretted not asking to keep the motorcycle at the end of shooting. However, interviews as recent as 2015 had him discussing motorcycle road trips which can only be taken as a good sign.

Fun fact, actress Jill Hennessy, who plays Tim Allen’s wife in ‘Wild Hogs’ is a motorcycle enthusiast herself.

Promotional poster for Wild Hogs

Looking to the small screen again, ‘Sons of Anarchy’ uses the motorcycle and the riding culture as the background for the runaway series seen on FX from 2008 to 2014. The cutting edge drama followed a motorcycle gang in a fictional California town with the cast portraying hard-riding bikers.

Those who couldn’t ride when joining the show soon learned and many carried on the riding passion off-screen. Many actors make appearances at motorcycle events and ride with fans.

There is one well-known name that hasn't been bitten by the biker bug however, Ron Perlman. This was confirmed by actress Maggie Siff, who plays tough doctor Tara Knowles when speaking to USA Today in 2012.

"Isn't that funny?" Siff notes, "The toughest guy in the show, and he's not all about riding. But he's so tough, you'd never guess."

Clutch and Chrome mentioned his better half earlier in this article, Brad Pitt is as famous for his passion around motorcycles as he is for his unique and varied roles. But for all his love of riding, the famous actor only has one notable on-screen appearance in the saddle, the memorable shot of Brad Pitt riding a classic Indian Scout in the ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’.

On the opposite end of Brad Pitt’s motorcycle screen time is Tom Cruise. He loves motorcycles so much it’s hard to know exactly how many Cruise owns and even better, he takes that enthusiasm to many of the movies he appears in.

From the iconic scene of ‘Maverick’ racing a F14 Navy jet in ‘Top Gun’, Cruise is seen racing across the screen on a variety of motorcycles in ‘Days of Thunder’, ‘Knight and Day’, ‘Oblivion’, ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ and most of the ‘Mission Impossible’ films. Its makes one wonder if Cruise writes these two-wheeled appearances into every movie contract.

It certainly isn’t from the lack of motorcycles parked in his garage. As mentioned, it’s hard to know exactly how many motorcycles he owns, but just by picking through headlines over the last ten years Clutch and Chrome counted the most powerful production motorcycle in the world, a Vyrus 987 C3 4V, literally the first Ducati Desmosedici RR to arrive in the US and a Confederate Hellcat F131.

We’ll leave this look at stars who ride their motorcycle passion on and off the screen with the man of the post-apocalyptic moment.

Riding through a zombie filled-world, ‘The Walking Dead’ viewers were introduced to a character played by Norman Reedus which would become one of the show’s more popular survivors. Leather-wearing, chopper riding Daryl Dixon never appeared in the comic book series the hugely successful television show was based on. Instead, the character was created by writers Frank Darabont, Charles H. Eglee and Jack LoGiudice specifically for Reedus. Reportedly the actor gave such a great audition for the role of Merle Dixon the writers created an additional character for him.

But does he ride?

The answer to this is as interesting as the show itself. Actor Norman Reedus is such an avid biker he pointed Walking Dead producers to Classified Moto motorcycle builders for a new ride to be featured on ‘The Walking Dead’. The builders had built a custom motorcycle for Norman Reedus some months before.

There are of course the actors whose passion for motorcycles is as legendary as their acting such as Ann Margaret, Steve McQueen and Peter Fonda. Even Marlon Brando with his career-making movie of 'The Wild Ones' enjoyed some time in the saddle and made headlines when his Triumph was sold at auction.

A star who apparently enjoys his biker time quietly is Laurence Fishburne. He makes this article with two screen appearances, Biker Boyz (2003) and an episode of CSI that focused on motorcycle gangs ‘Hog Heaven’. Fishburne appears to enjoy the long ride being seen in touring models such as those from Honda and BMW Motorrad.

A famous face who obviously loves motorcycles but wasn’t mentioned would be Ewan McGregor. His onscreen motorcycle appearance was on the small screen in a documentary, leaving the well-known rider narrowly missing the qualifications.

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Clutch and Chrome covers every aspect of the motorcycle lifestyle. Daily news, in-depth articles, reviews and anything that would interest a rider.


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