Athlete To Actor

Written by Dalton Brown
Edited by Jakob Lewis Barnes

Let me start off by saying this, I’m not a fan of sports. Shocking, I know. It’s just that I could never get too excited about them, no matter how hard I tried. That’s not to say I’m completely oblivious when it comes to sports. I know of a few athletes, but the few I do know of are not because I’ve seen them play, but because I have seen them act. Pretty poorly, I might add. Whilst most athletes would probably be better off sticking to their day job, there are a select few that are actually decent actors too.

San Andreas

One actor that immediately pops into my mind – who is arguably a better actor than he was an athlete – is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. For those of you that don’t know, he was once a professional wrestler. Yeah, wrestling is a sport. Now he’s an actor. I’m pretty ambivalent when it comes to this guy, but when he’s given the right role he’s golden! For example: I thought his character in the movie ‘Doom’ was awful, while his character in the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise is actually quite enjoyable. Last year, Johnson starred in the surprisingly entertaining disaster movie ‘San Andreas’, and with plenty of projects coming up, including work on a ‘Baywatch’ reboot, The Rock is cooking up quite the acting career these days. 

Following in Dwayne Johnson’s footsteps is former wrestler Dave Bautista. After playing the role of Drax the Destroyer in the hugely popular ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, Bautista nabbed a role in the latest Bond movie, ‘Spectre’, as brutish henchman Mr. Hinx. Whilst this was a role with very little dialogue, the big guy did what he does best; look tough and smash shit up. We look forward to seeing Bautista stepping in front of the cameras again for the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ sequel in 2017, and hopefully plenty more projects in the future.

Drax the Destroyer

Arnold Schwarzenegger is another athlete turned movie star. He was once a professional bodybuilder, before he turned into a Terminator. Recently, the Austrian muscle man has joined the ‘Expendables’ franchise. He’s also been in some pretty shoddy productions like ‘Escape Plan’ and ‘Sabotage’. Although he’s been in a lot of movies, he is – and probably always will be – most famous for the ‘Terminator’ franchise. My point being, he’s sort of a one-hit wonder. He was in one great movie, ‘Terminator’, and then it just sort of stumbled downhill from there. Even the latest sequel in that franchise, ‘Terminator Genisys’, was damn awful. 

Then there’s Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players to ever grace the court, who decided to play himself in a movie called ‘Space Jam’. Luckily for Jordan, he had the likes of Bugs Bunny and Bill Murray to save his ass, as his acting skills are far from world class. Michael Jordan then, is a perfect example of what not to be; a man who managed to roll his Hollywood debut and farewell into one film, thanks to cheesy, uncomfortable acting. The latest basketball king however, LeBron James, has recently found success in front of the camera in last year’s comedy hit ‘Trainwreck’. The Amy Schumer production gave LeBron the chance to allow his theatrical side to flourish, and boy did he deliver, surprising us all with his comedic talents.

TRAINWRECK

We are seeing more and more athletes taking on these cameo roles, mainly in comedies where they play themselves. Last summer, Ronda Rousey popped up in the ‘Entourage’ movie, and to be honest she was terrible. But at the time, she was one of the biggest sports stars in the world so we forgave her. Hell, the world even let her dream of playing Captain Marvel. That is, until she got her head kicked in by Holly Holm and now we don’t really trust her to be a superhero. Maybe Holly could suit up and save the world instead?

In conclusion, there are plenty of athletes who have tried acting, but only a handful have managed to reinvent themselves successfully. Dwayne Johnson has cemented himself as one of Hollywood’s top action heroes at present, and he certainly earns enough money to suggest he’s doing a good job. Everybody loves Schwarzenegger too, despite the long line of shit movies he’s performed in on the back of the success of ‘The Terminator’ in 1984 (yes it’s been that long since he actually did anything credible). More often than not, this transition from athlete to actor is probably going to be an epic fail, but we hope they keep trying. Team talk time for all you sports stars with dreams of the red carpet: just be yourself and don’t be afraid to fail, you will get that knockout eventually. Or that three-pointer. Or whatever sports metaphor is appropriate here.

Can you think of a sports star who would make a great actor? Or maybe one who wouldn’t be so great, but who would be fun to watch trying? Let us know!
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Watch This Space: June 15 – 21

Welcome to your weekly go-to-guide – WatchThisSpace – where we give you recommendations of films to watch in the cinema, on the television and those brilliant films hiding at the back of your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

If you’re a fan of the TV show, then you will have been waiting for this day for a very long time. If you’ve never seen ‘Entourage’ before, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with the whole gang. With A-List cameos coming at you from all angles and the usual touch of humour from the regulars, this movie has entertainment value in abundance. Read our exclusive, sneak peek review if you’re still unsure.

See one of England’s best-loved detectives portrayed by one of England’s best-loved actors this week in Mr Holmes. The film is very different to its predecessor starring Robert Downey Jnr, as it stars Ian McKellen as a 93 year old Sherlock looking nostalgically back on his career. This film won’t break box office records, but it should make for some pleasant viewing if you decide to take a trip to the cinema.

ON TELEVISION

Tuesday 23:55 GMT: Whilst it may not command as much attention as some of Quentin Tarantino’s higher profile films, ‘Jackie Brown’ has all the trademark violence, dark humour and plot twists that you would expect from any film in his portfolio. Prop up the eyelids and catch this underrated classic on ITV4.

Wednesday 18:35 GMT: I remember watching ‘Beaches’ years ago, but it is only retrospectively that I have come to appreciate how powerful a film it actually is. If you do choose to tune in to Film4 this evening, beware! Tears will flow, and if they don’t? Well, you’re just not human.

Friday 16:40 GMT: A pioneer in the sci-fi genre this Friday afternoon as ‘Planet Of The Apes‘ graces our screens on Film4. Sit back and enjoy the original film from a franchise that has spanned decades. The effects may look a bit dated now, but this is classic and a must watch for any sci-fi fan.

Sunday 16:30 GMT: Again, a film which doesn’t particularly stand out amongst its competitors in the formidable Disney collection, but ‘The Hunchback Of Notre Dame’ is a delightful family film. Tune in to Channel 5 and give the kids a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Sunday 21:00 GMT: Multi-Oscar winning film ‘The Deer Hunter’ finishes off our week of recommended films, and it ensures we go out with a bang! A captivating film about the troubles and terror caused by the Vietnam War and how it affects a group of friends, this film is a must watch over on ITV4 if you haven’t already. Remember to have some tissues on hand though; you could be tearful by time the credits role.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

Good Will Hunting: Last week we were treated to the first trailer of Ridley Scott’s latest epic ‘The Martian’ starring Matt Damon. One of Damon’s most captivating and celebrated performances is the title role in ‘Good Will Hunting’ starring alongside the late, great Robin Williams (who is phenomenal in this film by the way). This film is incredibly moving and boasts an incredible script from Damon and Ben Affleck, so if you’re going to watch any Matt Damon film, make sure it’s this one.

Jaws: Jurassic World’ was tearing up box office records last weekend (if you haven’t already seen it, then make sure you do as a matter of urgency), and the franchise began with Steven Spielberg and his visionary directing. Why not dig out one of his other monster movies in ‘Jaws’. The film celebrates its 40th birthday this year, so what better excuse to relive the horror and immerse yourself into the dark depths of the ocean. Oh, and remember that iconic soundtrack? That’s worth a revisit in itself.

Ghostbusters: The wheels are really turning on the upcoming, female led reboot of the classic ‘Ghostbusters’ franchise, with Paul Feig directing his favourite ladies. But news from the project this week revealed that Chris Hemsworth, the mighty Thor, will be taking on the role of the receptionist for next year’s reimagining. Rewind time and enjoy the original this week.

Guardians Of The Galaxy: This week there’s double the celebrations, with birthdays for both Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana coming up. Watch the pair link up as part of the best Marvel team (yes, better than The Avengers, promise), for tonnes of action and excitement, the usual Marvel humour and one of the best soundtracks EVER.

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Jakob Lewis Barnes and Nick Deal

TV Killed The Movie Star

Written by Chris Winterbottom 
THE DYING RACE OF CINEMAGOERS

From the beginning of the 20th century, the film industry has fascinated, surprised and thrilled audiences with revolutionary technology which allowed talented storytellers to tell their tales, through the miracle of sight. Early classics, such as ‘Metropolis’ helped ignite the worlds imagination, allowing both filmmakers and audiences alike to wonder at what was possible in the way we tell stories. The film industry has had few competitors over its existence, and despite some rough periods in its history, no other medium of storytelling has evolved, re-evolved and revolutionised itself as much as the Hollywood film industry has. Stories told through moving images, sound and colour was a reality few could ponder in the early 1900’s. Yet here we are, about a century later taking for granted the very thing that inspired so many before.

Why do we take it for granted? It’s a big question. I have never lost my love for cinema. Not even after watching great movies and being disturbed by the inconsiderate, or even after watching The Godfatherterrible movies, praying the inconsiderate would chirp up to provide a welcome distraction. Cinema was my first true love and I shall never betray her beauty, wonder and magic – even if they did another series of ‘Breaking Bad’. However, I understand that not everyone feels this way about films; and certainly not about the cinematic experience. I get it. It’s expensive, and more often than not, the film is not worth the price of admission. But cinema has been the go-to medium of storytelling for decades. Books have always been considered the intellectual’s pursuit, but I defy anyone who would claim that ‘The Godfather’ is not as profound as ‘Great Expectations’. 

Cinema attendances have fallen over the last decade or so, and you don’t have to be a genius to figure out why. In 2002, 176 million people visited the cinema. In 2014, the same statistic read 157 million. 19 million people fewer in a decade. That might not seem like much, but for cinema to lose that level of audience sets a frightening precedent for the future. There are many aspects to blame for this fall, but none more culpable than the notoriously high ticket prices for the average filmgoer, which is why the big budget films do so well. Audiences find a certain necessity to see ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ on the big screen rather than at home, because it is an event movie. The same cannot be said for smaller films like the recent ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’. Clearly, audiences reserve a cinema trip for special occasions. Cinemas are forced into charging these astronomical prices due to the one-sided agreement in place with many film distribution companies, where theatres, on occasion, take as little as 10% away from ticket sales. Film distribution companies are literally holding theatres to ransom. But the domino effect of this short profit margin is that families, and more importantly children, the future audience for cinema, are being priced out of visiting. The proof is in the popcorn; the theatre favourite is the most profitable commodity in the world. A truly terrifying and revealing fact. And adverts? That half an hour you’re sat there waiting for the movie to start – the key to a theatre’s success. I don’t have the heart to tell you just how much EE pay to get those Kevin Bacon adverts up on the silver screen every time.

THE THRIVING RACE OF COUCH POTATOES

A lot of industry voices have attributed this decline in film attendance on film piracy, and while this is obviously a problem for cinema in general, it does not cut to the core of what the real issue is. The real, indisputable cause behind the slow death of cinema, is the rise of a competitor; a competitor half the age of cinema and yet now, undoubtedly outshining it. For a long time, it was the shadowy pretender to film’s throne. Now it is arguably the king of storytelling. I am talking, of course, about television. Ever since ‘The Sopranos’ first aired in 1999, TV has had a rapid rise in popularity. The latest ‘Avengers’ movie was recently released, yet all I hear being talked about is the new series of ‘Game Of Thrones’. Game Of ThronesThere are still people today who are only just committing themselves to their first ‘Breaking Bad’ binge watch. Television has never been so popular, and I say “congratulations”.

So why is TV taking over as the preferred medium of storytelling? The first reason is that it is addictive. TV shows are written in such a way that each episode creeps under your skin and grabs you before you realise it. I am a long-term fan of ‘Entourage’, a rather lightweight series in comparison to something like ‘The Wire’. Yet, at 30 minute an episode, I can fly through a series; no problem. Also, the simple time frame to a TV series, the infinite number of episodes; it all allows characters to breathe and develop, which allows the audience to form bonds with their on screen heroes (or bad guys, your call). The rise of legal streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime have afforded story seekers an alternative and, let’s be honest, preferable way of watching both TV and film. The key is a combination of convenience and cost. A Netflix subscription gives you a month of unlimited viewing of anything you want (from their selection), for the measly sum of just £7 a month. If you watch a movie in IMAX and 3D, you may have just blown two months’ worth of Netflix.

Audiences are getting more for their money, and don’t need to leave the house to get it. Hell, they don’t even have to get dressed. This sort of viewing is revolutionising the way TV studios, and now film studios are targeting their audience. Some TV shows are made in house; Amazon Prime have produced their own shows like ‘Extant’, and Netflix have produced ‘House Of Cards’ and ‘Orange Is The New Black’. You only have to whisper the name Frank Underwood, and you will be drawn into a deep discussion on the malignant politician. Even if you don’t immediately pick one of these winners, with home streaming, the viewer can quickly choose something else at no extra cost.

THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL

Hollywood is afraid. Film studios are afraid of losing that golden crown that once sat unchallenged on the head of the silver screen. As a result, they do not take risks. On the other hand, almost every TV show made these days is littered with risky gambles – not least those coming out of America. ‘Game Of Thrones’ is a great example of this. HBO have taken a rich and intricate series of fantasy books, and adapted it for the small screen. There is nothing small about its budget, nor the level of violence and sex in its episodes. On paper this could easily have been a monumental failure, and yet it is now one of the most talked about and loved franchises out there.

Cinema is caught in a vicious cycle of quick-fixes and sure fire sellers; releasing content with a built-in fan base who are guaranteed to invest the first time, who won’t enjoy the experience (either because of the film’s lack of quality, or someone else has spoiled the experience) and then choose to stay at home next time. From time to time, you get great films released like the works of Christopher Nolan, films which capture the imaginations of audiences, even in this fastidious age. It is films like ‘Inception’ which prove that audiences still respond to challenging and entertaining films. The problem is that there are simply not enough of them made.

The Marvel cinematic universe is another example of how some projects have developed an increasingly popular product for the masses. DaredevilIn the same way the ‘Harry Potter’ books encouraged the young to read again, Marvel Studios have brought back some sort of audience to cinemas. But even now, I can feel the gentle tug of boredom looming in the distance, as Marvel start to run out of ideas and scrape the barrel for their most niche character’s origin story. Marvel is in danger of recruiting an overwhelming amount of heroes to their world and turn it stagnant. The studios most exciting prospect right now is none other than ‘Daredevil’, and where can you find him? Netflix of course, and you get the whole first series available to you right away.

Regardless, more needs to be done in Hollywood. They have to take a leaf out of television’s hefty tome and take more risks. They have to try and find more mavericks like Christopher Nolan, and stop worrying about fact and figures. There is nothing more important than quality, create something great and the audiences will find it. More can be done at cinemas too, where the focus needs to shift from retail products and go back to basics; showing movies. Ultimately, a conversation needs to be had between the cinemas and film studios, to renegotiate ticket price percentages. That way, the movie theatre might find more breathing room in their wallets and begin to fix what has put people off for so long. For now, I live in hope.