Notable roles: Die Hard 2 (1990), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Law & Order: SVU (NBC, 2003-2006)
Political position: U.S. Senator, Tennessee (1994-2003)

Fred Thompson was an under-the-radar character actor for most of his show biz career. Still, he managed to carve a niche out for himself in TV shows and movies like Die Hard 2 and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. After spending nine years as a professional actor, Thompson turned his sights to a political career when he made a successful bid for the two remaining years on Al Gore’s expiring senate seat in Tennessee in 1994 as a Republican.

But it was in 2007 when Thompson really made headlines, when he decided to run for the President of the United States, a part he played previously when he took on the role of Ulysses S. Grant in the TV version of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Like many people expected, Thompson gained very little support and withdrew from the race after just a few months. Yet it was the most screen time he'd seen in years, and any publicity is good publicity, right?