While many of his teammates and fellow baseball players will be crowding your television screen vying for at least a half-inning of playing time during Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game tonight, New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez has his sights set on something bigger: Hollywood. Variety reports that Rodriguez has signed on to make his film debut in Friends With Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Directed by Will Gluck, the film focuses on “two friends as they come out of disastrous relationships.” Rodriguez is in good company; the film also stars Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Emma Stone, and Andy Samberg.
Rodriguez has always come off as hungry for the spotlight, whether it was his shirtless sunbathing in Central Park or last year’s public relationship with Kate Hudson. As a Yankee fan, I was pleased to finally see him win a championship last fall, but cringe at the thought of more potential gossip column fodder. Plus, how will this affect the baseball season? According to Variety, “Screen gems will work around Rodriguez’s busy Yankees schedule by shooting his scenes on the players’ off days.” Last time I checked baseball players didn’t get many off days.
This will not be the first time a professional athlete tries his luck at acting. Boston Celtics’ Ray Allen starred in Spike Lee’s 1998 film He Got Game, giving what EW’s Owen Gleiberman described as “an unusually vivid acting debut for a professional athlete.” Who can forget Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as pilot Roger Murdock in Airplane!? Or Shaquille O’Neal in Kazaam?! Which athlete (if any) has made the most successful foray into acting?
If this movie thing doesn’t work out, there’s always the opportunity for making cameos on popular TV shows. Peyton Manning has gained a whole new fan base thanks to high-profile commercials for MasterCard and DirecTV. The Super Bowl champ has also hosted Saturday Night Live, just like Rodriguez’s teammate Derek Jeter (who’s got an upcoming cameo in The Other Guys). Kobe Bryant made Phil Dunphy nervous on Modern Family, and the list goes on…If the Lebron James story has taught us anything, it’s that the line between sports and entertainment is becoming increasingly blurred (L.A. Lakers’ Ron Artest already has an Oscar speech ready for goodness sakes!). Athletes are really just entertainers with bigger…shoes.
What do you think A-Rod’s chances are at film stardom? Do you think any of Rodriguez’s former/current flings – Madonna, Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz – gave him some acting lessons?