For decades, athletes have been about more than just what they can do on the court, on the field, on the ice and in the ring — what about off of it? We take a look at some of the stars who have made the jump to the silver screen in the past decade.
Though Mike Tyson certainly has a tough guy reputation and persona — e.g. “Iron Mike,” in the ring; biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear; and getting an extremely large face tattoo, his naturally effeminate voice and cover of Phil Collins’s “In The Air Tonight,” for this 2009 flick speak to his softer side. Tyson later admitted he was high on cocaine when he was filming his scenes for the movie, but that didn’t seem to matter at the time: His stint was so successful that he was hired to return for the film’s 2011 sequel.
His Airness is quite the entrepreneur and businessman — Air Jordan, Michael Jordan Steakhouse, etc. — so it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan took his talents onscreen and made Space Jam in 1996. Sharing top billing with Bugs Bunny, Jordan plays himself, as a professional basketball player who retires from the NBA to play baseball. Before his debut as a baseball player, however, Jordan joins up with the Looney Tunes team to help them defeat an alien basketball team. Far-fetched? Yes, but the movie made more than $225 million worldwide, and Jordan’s agreed to a sequel, to be released in 2016.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
In a movie with an already-strong cast, former Dolphins’ quarterback Dan Marino helps make it even stronger. And though many believed the flick would be the end of their acting career — Jim Carrey included — it ended up grossing more than $107 million worldwide. Though his screen time is limited, Marino is a large part of the plot, and fodder for much of the storyline; proving that being able to make fun of yourself pays off. Viewers later find out that Marino and Ace, who is the Dolphins’ dolphin trainer, are old friends.
This 1996 release wore many hats, calling itself a “fantasy family musical comedy.” In it, Shaq stars as the title character Kazaam, a 5,000-year-old genie. When Max, a young boy, bumps into an old boom box, Kazaam is released and must give Max three wishes in order to stay free. The film’s budget was $20 million, and it barely grossed $19 million — by all accounts, a disaster. When asked if he has regrets about doing it, Shaq’s response was this: “I was a medium-level juvenile delinquent from Newark who always dreamed about doing a movie. Someone said, ‘Hey, here’s $7 million, come in and do this genie movie.’ What am I going to say, no? So I did it.”
Dumb & Dumber
“Bam-Bam Cam” was one of the NHL’s ultimate power forwards for the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins before turning to smaller roles on the silver screen. In his memorable role in the Farrelly brothers’ Dumb & Dumber, Neely played the hilariously characterized Sea Bass — an offensive and aggressive trucker who terrorizes Jim Carrey’s character. After other stints in Me, Myself and Irene and D2: The Mighty Ducks, Neely returned to hockey, and was named President of the Boston Bruins on June 16, 2010. According to rumors, however, Neely is set to reprise his role in the long-awaited Dumb & Dumber sequel.
He Got Game
In this 1998 Spike Lee film, Allen plays Jesus Shuttlesworth, a top basketball player who sees the highs, lows and political processes behind basketball recruiting. Denzel Washington also stars in the film — as Jesus’ father and a prison inmate — and onscreen, is released on parole for a week order to persuade his son to play for the governor’s alma mater in exchange for a reduced prison sentence. NBA star Allen trained for eight weeks with an acting coach before filming, and Roger Ebert later called him, “that rarity…an athlete who can act.”