First earning renown in Great Britain as a star footballer, Vinnie Jones smoothly parlayed his physically formidable "hard man" sports rep into a second career as a charismatic movie tough guy. Raised on the estate where his father worked as a gamekeeper, Jones began his professional sports career with the Wimbledon FC soccer team in 1986. Becoming famous for his aggressive athleticism, Jones played for several other teams before returning to Wimbledon in 1994. A multimedia celebrity in Britain as well as a sports star, Jones also hosted TV and radio talk shows, published a book, and wrote a weekly column for the Sun during his years as an athlete. Jones found his next calling when tyro writer/director Guy Ritchie cast him as paternal enforcer Big Chris in the flashy London gangster romp Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1999). A major hit in England, and an art house success in the U.S., Lock, Stock earned Jones several British prizes for his wryly humorous, attention-getting performance. Jones officially retired from soccer in 1999, and turned his attention full time to playing colorfully named movie thugs. After a featured role as "The Sphinx" in the bombastic Hollywood car heist blockbuster Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), Jones rejoined Ritchie's lad-movie universe as Bullet Tooth Tony in the charmingly titled diamond caper Snatch (2001). Having proven that he could hold his own among such Hollywood stars as Gone in 60 Seconds' Nicolas Cage and Snatch's Brad Pitt, Jones was subsequently cast opposite John Travolta in Gone in 60 Seconds director Dominic Sena's Swordfish (2001). It was only a matter of time before Jones moved up to headliner status in film, and with the release of Mean Machine in 2001 it seemed as if his moment in the celluloid spotlight had finally come. A remake of the of the 1974 Burt Reynolds prison football classic The Longest Yard (released as Mean Machine outside of the U.S.), Mean Machine substituted English "football" (read: soccer) for its American namesake and found Jones comfortably filling the cleats of Reynolds as a prison inmate muscled into entering a tense inmates vs. guards match. Joined by fellow Ritchie veterans Vas Blackwood, Jason Flemyng, and Jason Statham and featuring a bone-crunching finale, Mean Machine may not have found Jones' acting abilities breaking any new ground in the eyes of some critics, though his comfortable performance and likable screen presence still showed promise for numerous testosterone soaked cinematic endeavors in the years to come.