10 footballers and their failed attempts at acting, from Beckham to Zidane
Believe it or not, some footballers have transitioned successfully to the acting world. Vinnie Jones isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s carved out a niche for himself as a stone-faced hatchet man (a real stretch). Eric Cantona also just plays himself in his most acclaimed role, Looking for Eric, but does so with panache. Plus he’s great in those beer adverts.
Cantona’s countryman Frank Leboeuf actually featured in an Oscar-winning film, playing a doctor in Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything. Carlo Ancelotti also played a medical man, but in a Star Trek Beyond cameo which we haven’t seen but are immediately gutted that it didn’t lead to a full-scale spin-off series. Dr Ancelotti: In Space!
Anyway, that lot were fine, but this lot really weren’t. Here’s when it all went a bit wrong for footballers trying to act.
David Beckham in King Arthur Legend of the Sword
When the Lord created Becks, he gave him multiple gifts: athleticism, good looks, excellent hair and a right foot so dextrous it can open tinned food. To balance that out, he also gave him the voice of a shy mouse and clearly zero acting ability.
Playing the minor role of “Trigger” in Guy Ritchie’s panned Arthurian epic, Beckham doesn’t convince as a gruff medieval type with a plastic conk. Although with dialogue such as: “Bouncing on my knee. Where d’you think I want ya?” we’re not sure Marlon Brando himself could have pulled off this role without looking like an idiot. So let’s give Becks his favourite thing – a pass – on this one.
Stan Collymore in Basic Instinct 2
Stan Collymore is drooling in the passenger seat of a speeding sports car as Sharon Stone gets very excited in the seat next to him. Watch it here but yikes: NSFW, people. We should point out straight away that this is a film scene and definitely not real life.
The former Nottingham Forest striker plays the role of football star Kevin Franks and his part lasts about as long as it took the screenwriters to come up with that name. He’s bumped off before the credits finish as the car veers into the River Thames, and while it’s probably unfair to criticise Stan’s acting when all he does is moan a bit and get slapped by Stone, he does look a bit silly throughout. (Kevin) Franksly, Basic Instinct 2 is such a turkey that Stan’s acting career looks to have sunk with it.
Wayne Rooney in a wine advert
Rooney is far from alone in being that curious animal: a footballer who isn’t convincing even when playing themselves. “The boss said that a new devil is arriving,” intones Rooney with all the enthusiasm that indicates Sir Alex has just told to him that Eric Djemba-Djemba has re-signed with Manchester United.
The reactions from Rooney’s co-stars Ryan Giggs and Patrice Evra (definitely not his voice) aren’t much better, but as the leading man, Rooney must bear the brunt of the criticism. “They say he is a legend,” he adds in comatose style, before watching a fireball hurtle across the Old Trafford pitch and explode into one of the goals.
Rooney’s reaction? To stroke his chin impassively. Holy hairpiece, Wazza, how much delicious Chilean plonk have you actually quaffed to stay this calm in a crisis?
Sir Bobby Charlton in Jossy’s Giants
Jossy’s Giants was a 1980s kids’ TV series set in Newcastle about a wayward children’s football team. It boasted a belting theme song, was written by darts commentary legend Sid Waddell and also somehow managed to nab cameos with a couple of bonafide England and Man United legends.
Bryan Robson appeared once but his rancid acting was genuinely so atrocious that the internet appears to have wisely deleted all record of it. Bobby Charlton is actually more convincing. Admittedly, his phone call with Jossy to arrange a tour of St James’ Park is rather stilted and Sir Bobby follows this up by spending too long extolling the virtues of “a really good plunge bath” to a group of kids who probably just want to go out and run about on the pitch to be honest.
However, if Hollywood didn’t come calling, Charlton at least comes across as hugely likeable. Show us the referees' quarters again, Bobby!
Pele in Escape to Victory
There’s one eternal question around this 1981 cult classic about a group of Allied prisoners of war who escape via the power of football. Namely, which is worse: Sly Stallone’s goalkeeping or the cast of footballers' occasional attempts at acting?
Pele plays the star role of Corporal Luis Fernandez. John Wark told FourFourTwo that the great man nailed his all-important bicycle kick on the first take, but his off-pitch acting left something to be desired. His dialogue delivery, unlike his play, is rushed and mumbled, even if we did enjoy his blackboard set-to with manager Michael Caine.
We get the feeling if Pele tried jumping up and snatching the chalk from Tony Pulis’s hand when he was delivering a tactical masterclass, O Rei would be left chewing on chalk and a place on the bench behind Rory Delap.