Will Leitch is the editor of Deadspin, our sister sports site, and his book God Save The Fan is now available at bookstores everywhere. He makes a cameo appearance here today to discuss how athletes could become better actors.
One of the dirty little secrets of acting is, well, anyone can do it. Even athletes! The Celtics' Ray Allen was strangely compelling in He Got Game, Andre The Giant was the most sympathetic character in The Princess Bride and the Zucker Brothers learned even athletes could play surreal deadpan with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane. And who could ever forget the moxie that Orenthal James Simpson brought to the Naked Gun trilogy?
But I'm looking for something more epic; I'm looking for a total reinvention by a name director, an otherwise untrained, unskilled athlete being coaxed into an affecting performance by one of our great masters, a la Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love or Courtney Love in The People Vs. Larry Flynt. In honor of this curious conceit I've just created, here's five athlete-director combos I think might just work.
Cameron Crowe: Tom Brady
He's a handsome, self-involved hugely successful football player who learns, after impregnating a third supermodel, that his life is empty of any true meaning. He quits the team and coaches a Pop Warner team with the help of a wacky former teammate (Tracy Morgan) and a beautiful, troubled past-her-prime sideline reporter (Rene Russo) who teaches him how to love.
Quentin Tarantino: Joe Namath
Retired playboy athlete, after discovering his football pension has run out, organizes a heist to swipe an ancient sword from a pack of angry ninjas (led by Yao Ming and Tracy Morgan). With Samuel L. Jackson as the piano player; features septegenarian nudity.
John Waters: John Amaechi.
In a callback to his anything-goes does of Baltimore yore, Waters pens this tale of a gay basketball player who teams up with a bigoted former teammate (Tracy Morgan) to put on a cross-dressing musical that shocks a staid mid-50s suburban community. Ends with both teammates eating dog excrement.
Richard Kelly: Serena Williams.
In the Not Too Distant future, a roaming band of mercenaries, led by a laboratory-created superhuman being (Williams), attempt to take down a corrupt Orwellian government led by a former professional wrestler (Tracy Morgan) and world-wide renowned porn star (Nora Dunn). In a landmark use of viral marketing, all theaters will be instructed to show film with reels in randomly selected order, assuring the film will make as much sense as if it were in the correct order.
Uwe Boll: Matt Leinart
Ancient Medieval Lord (Burt Reynolds) teams with his son (Leinart) on an epic journey to escape a maze and eat tiny pellets while being chased by large, multicolored ghosts. Screenplay by Tracy Morgan.