20 Celebs You Never Realized Were in Your Favorite Sports Movie
If you had to compare the typical career of a well-known actor to an athlete who has the same kind of name recognition, more often than not, it would align much more closely with Steve Young or Manu Ginobili than Wayne Gretzky or Andrew Luck.
Most celebrities spend at least part of their early career acting in movies or television shows that don't blow away box office records or top the Nielsen ratings. And even if their gig is a hit, they may be making "scale" as a minor character or even just an extra.
No one outside the true believers in the Patriots organization cared about Tom Brady in 1999, because he hadn't given anyone any reason to. The same applies to A-list actors whom most people never gave a second thought about when they appeared on the silver screen before a breakout hit.
As a result, plenty of movies that were flops, hits or somewhere in between may be hiding a little gem of a performance by a star who was practically a nobody at the time but would get top billing today.
And when it comes to sports flicks, there is no shortage of celebrity appearances you may have missed.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
Although they weren’t credited, and as far as I can tell they can’t even be seen in the film, one of megastars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s first forays into the business was serving as extras in the Field of Dreams scene that was shot at Fenway Park in Boston.
Kristen Wiig is best known for her years on Saturday Night Live and her starring role in the comedy Bridesmaids. She’s less known for her role as “Bear Handler” in the Will Ferrell basketball comedy Semi-Pro.
Actor Dermot Mulroney, of “Hey, isn’t that Dylan McDermott?” fame, played Mr. Bomman in the 1994 remake of Angels in the Outfield.
Mr. Bomman was the leather-jacket-wearing deadbeat dad of the main character, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who drove off on his motorcycle minutes into the film.
Actor Mathew McConaughey recently won his first Oscar—he’s come a very long way since his supporting role of Ben Williams in Angels in the Outfield.
You may not know her face, but surely you know actress Alex Borstein by her voice. She’s been the voice of Lois Griffin on Family Guy since the show’s debut.
She does the occasional on-camera work as well. For instance, she played “Obnoxious Hummer Lady” in the 2005 Will Ferrell comedy Kicking & Screaming.
Actor Martin Starr has been working regularly since landing a supporting role on the underappreciated Judd Apatow show Freaks and Geeks. He’s been a fixture in Apatow movies ever since.
Although his roles are usually supporting, they’re usually a little more substantial than “Beantown Customer” in Kicking & Screaming.
Actor Vince Vaughn has been landing starring movie roles for more than a decade now, but back in 1993 he played Jamie O’Hara in Rudy. He had a very minor supporting role as one of Rudy’s Notre Dame teammates.
Patricia Heaton and Dan Castellaneta
Patricia Heaton, of Everybody Loves Raymond fame, and Dan Castellaneta, of The Simpsons, have both been bringing in good money for a while now.
Though back when Space Jam was being filmed, they were hard up enough to accept roles as “woman fan” and “male fan,” respectively.
Blink and you could easily miss actress Tea Leoni’s bit part in the Penny Marshall classic, A League of Their Own. She played first base for the Racine team.
Another bit part in A League of Their Own went to Janet Gretzky, the wife of Wayne Gretzky, who once had acting aspirations. She played the pitcher for the Racine team.
Actor Vincent Kartheiser is best known for his portrayal of slimy and troubled, but ultimately capable, account man Pete Campbell on AMC’s Mad Men. His second acting job ever was in Little Big League; he played “James,” one of the kids who were playing baseball in the park.
Actress Elizabeth Banks played Marcel Howard, a minor supporting role, in Seabiscuit. Although she’s become a household name in the years since, this was actually one of her first film roles.
Actor B.D. Wong, best known for his longtime supporting role on Law & Order: SVU, played the pivotal role of "Boy on the Street" in Karate Kid 2.
The late Bernie Mac played the supporting role of Flip Johnson in the Tupac Shakur basketball flick Above the Rim, which was released in 1994.
First of all, please note that I know (and know that you know) the man on the right is the late rapper Tupac Shakur and not actor Jesse Williams. That being said, actor Jesse Williams had a bit part in Above the Rim, which starred Tupac.
I wasn’t going to watch the whole movie just to find Williams playing “official,” but if you want to do that, please feel free to email me the photo and I’ll update this. And if you haven’t seen the film, it’s actually worth a watch.
Sofia Vergara’s role as Gloria on the hit show Modern Family has elevated her to genuine superstar status, but when she played the small supporting role of Amelia in Lords of Dogtown in 2005, she was just trying to get her career off the ground.
Hunk Channing Tatum was years away from becoming Magic Mike when he landed his first movie role in Coach Carter back in 2005. He played Jason Lyle, a minor role that gave him far more screen time than lines.
Friends star Courteney Cox’s role of Lena in The Longest Yard is denoted as “uncredited” on IMDB, but her brief and busty cameo generated more headlines than the movie did.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I wouldn’t recommend it. I would, however, recommend this weird slow motion tribute to her character I stumbled upon on YouTube.
The mellifluous Ryan Gosling played Alan Bosley in Remember the Titans. It’s probably been awhile since you watched the movie, since it came out in 2000, so watch Ry-Gos bust a move in this video to jog your aging memory.
Actor Jim Caviezel is best known for his dramatic roles in movies like The Thin Red Line and The Passion of the Christ, but don’t let that fool you! Apparently he’s as easily swayed by cheap animal laughs as the rest of us.
Believe it or not, he played Dizzy Anderson in the 1996 ill-advised Matt LeBlanc vehicle Ed, a film about a disgruntled baseball player who gets demoted to the minors and befriends a trouble-making third baseman that also happens to be a monkey.
These additional few are a little too minor to actually find photos for but seemed worth sharing!
Fred Armisen: The Saturday Night Live alum must have been behind on his rent when he accepted the role of “New Age Dad” in Like Mike.
Tyra Banks: The supermodel/supermogul played Kyra Kessler, a supporting role in the 2000 drama Love & Basketball.
Joel McHale: The longtime host of The Soup had a bit part as a reporter in the film Lords of Dogtown.
Dane Cook: The comedian didn’t technically appear in Mr. 3000, but he did provide the voice of “Sausage Mascot.”
Lucy Liu: The Charlie’s Angels star made a brief cameo in Jerry Maguire as one of Jerry’s many ex-girlfriends featured in the video played at his birthday party early in the film.