Is Kevin Costner officially Mr. Sports Movie?
This week's behind-the-scenes look at the NFL draft, "Draft Day," makes for Costner's fifth sports-themed movie, following "Bull Durham" (1988), "Field of Dreams" (1989), "Tin Cup" (1996) and "For Love of the Game" (1999). With such an impressive roster, we're comparing scores and begging the question: Has any thespian-athlete appeared in more sports movie roles, or come close to that amount?
The answer is: Oh yes. In fact, Costner's score is only about mid-range when it comes to sports figures on the resume. Here are the actors who have played the most ball in cinema.
(Note: Considering we're looking at versatility of sports roles, we're tallying the number of different characters they played, so a franchise with sequels, such as "Rocky," only counts once.)
3 ROLES (7-WAY TIE)
- Jamie Foxx: This summer's villainous Electro played flamboyant boxing manager Hassan El Ruk'n in the comedy "The Great White Hype" (1996); up-and-coming Miami Sharks quarterback Willie Beamen in Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday" (1999); and boxing trainer and cornernman Drew Bundini Brown in Michael Mann's "Ali" (2001).
- Bill Murray: One of our most beloved national treasures made comedy history as gopher-hunting groundskeeper Carl Spackler in "Caddyshack" (1980); sported an epic comb-over as despicable bowling champion Ernie McCracken in "Kingpin" (1996); and played basketball alongside Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes (as himself) in "Space Jam" (1996).
- Adam Sandler: The former "SNL" funnyman found that a hockey player could be just as obnoxious on the golf course in "Happy Gilmore" (1996); kept the South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs good and hydrated as Bobby Boucher in "The Waterboy" (1998); and channeled his inner Burt Reynolds as incarcerated football star Paul Crewe in the remake of "The Longest Yard" (2005).
- Mark Wahlberg: Everyone's favorite Bostonian has covered three separate sports on his resume, having played Mickey in "The Basketball Diaries" (1995); Philadelphia Eagles football sensation Vince Papale in "Invincible" (2006); and boxer 'Irish' Micky Ward in "The Fighter" (2010).
- Denzel Washington: The two-time Oscar winner took on the world of college basketball as Jesus Shuttleworth in Spike Lee's "He Got Game" (1998); played wrongfully incarcerated boxer Rubin Carter in "The Hurricane" (1999); and led the football team of suddenly racially integrated T.C. Williams High School to victory as Coach Herman Boone in "Remember the Titans" (2000).
- Gerard Butler: The former lawyer played U.S. soccer team member Frank Borghi in the dramatization of America's unlikely victory over England at the 1950 World Cup, "The Game of Their Lives" (2005); hung ten as surfing legend Frosty Hesson in "Chasing Mavericks" (2012); and loved the ladies while encouraging good sportsmanship as George Dryer, a former football player turned boys soccer coach, in "Playing for Keeps" (2012).
- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: It's hard to call the kiddie flicks "The Game Plan" and "Tooth Fairy" sports movies, but The Rock played a professional athlete in both (a football player in the former, hockey player in the latter). He also coached "The Gridiron Gang."
4 ROLES (3-WAY TIE)
- Gene Hackman: Is there any doubt that a former Marine can hold his own in the wild world of cinematic sports? Gene Hackman clashed with Robert Redford on the ski slopes as Coach Eugene Claire in "Downhill Racer" (1969); took a small-town Indiana high school team to the state finals as Coach Norman Dale in "Hoosiers" (1986); represented the middle of three generations of Irish boxers as Dan McGuinn in "Split Decisions" (1988); and helped turn a bunch of scabs into a winning pro football team as Coach Jimmy McGinty in "The Replacements" (2000).
- Robert De Niro: He's 70 years old and still getting in the ring. De Niro scored early acclaim as New York Mammoths catcher Bruce Pearson in "Bang the Drum Slowly" (1973); scored a critical knockout as heavyweight boxing champ Jake La Motta in "Raging Bull" (1980); took baseball fanaticism about thirty steps too far as cuckoo bird Gil Renard in "The Fan" (1996); and took on Sylvester Stallone himself as long-retired boxer Billy 'The Kid' McGuigan in "Grudge Match" (2013).
- Will Ferrell: He's a gifted comedian and an occasionally gifted-ish athlete. Will Ferrell got the ball rolling as Phil Weston, a soccer coach with a lot to prove, in "Kicking & Screaming" (2005); tore up the track as racing sensation Ricky Bobby in "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" (2006); took ice skating to glorious new heights as Chazz Michael Michaels in "Blades of Glory" (2007); and ruled the court as Jackie Moon, owner, head coach and starting power forward of the hilariously inept Flint Tropics, in "Semi-Pro" (2008).
5 ROLES (2-WAY TIE)
- Kevin Costner: Preceding his turn as NFL general manager Sonny Weaver (his first cinematic journey into the world of football) in "Draft Day," Kevin Costner was all about the baseball, having portrayed minor league catcher Crash Davis in "Bull Durham" (1988); farmer and baseball field owner Ray Kinsella in "Field of Dreams" (1989); and aging pitcher Billy Chapel in "For Love of the Game" (1999). Costner is also familiar with a golf course or two, having played Roy McAvoy, a former golf prodigy and West Texas driving range owner, in "Tin Cup" (1996).
- Sylvester Stallone: If we were to tally sports movies as a whole, including sequels, the Italian Stallion would be our champ, with six entries as boxer Rocky Balboa in the "Rocky" movies. Sly's other sports movie credits include "Death Race 2000" (1975), in which he played deadly cross country racer Machine Gun Joe Viterbo; "Paradise Alley" (1978), in which he played Cosmo Corboni, one of three brothers trying to play the wrestling game in 1940s NYC; "Over the Top" (1986), the greatest arm-wrestling movie ever made; "Driven" (2001), in which he plays former CART champion and car racing mentor Joe Tanto; and "Grudge Match" (2013), in which he plays former boxing champ Henry 'Razor' Sharp.
- Woody Harrelson: The former "Cheers" star appeared as rowdy high school football player Krushinski in "Wildcats" (1986); hustled on the basketball courts as Billy Hoyle in "White Men Can't Jump" (1992); sought redemption as one-handed former bowling champ Roy Munson in "Kingpin" (1996); got in the ring with Antonio Banderas as aging prizefighter Vince Boudreau in "Play It to the Bone" (1999); whipped the worst basketball team in the world into playing shape as former backup Boston Celtics point guard Ed Monix in "Semi-Pro" (2008); and hit the waves with future "True Detective" co-star Matthew McConaughey in the little-seen surfing comedy, "Surfer, Dude" (2008).
- Wesley Snipes: He might be best known for his portrayal of the moody vampire hunter of the "Blade" films, but Wesley Snipes has quite the sports line-up on his resume, having participated in football, baseball, basketball, boxing and, uh, something called "Futuresport." He played alongside Woody Harrelson's Krushinski as Tremaine in the high school football comedy, "Wildcats" (1986), with the duo reuniting as hoops hustlers Billy Hoyle and Sidney Deane, respectively, in "White Men Can't Jump" (1992); he hit like Mays and ran like Hayes as Cleveland Indians center fielder Willie Mays Hayes in "Major League" (1989) and got stalked by Robert De Niro as new San Francisco Giants recruit Bobby Rayburn in "The Fan" (1996); made a cameo appearance in Ron Shelton's boxing comedy "Play It to the Bone" (1999) before taking on Ving Rhames in a prison boxing match as Monroe Hutchens in "Undisputed" (2002); and faced the dystopian future as star athlete/celebrity Obike Fixx in "Futuresport" (1998), which is basically "Rollerball" but, uh, different.
8 ROLES (AND OUR WINNER)
- Dennis Quaid: No one plays ball in the movies quite like Dennis Quaid. He can throw a pigskin like nobody's business, as he demonstrated with his roles as Gavin Grey in "Everybody's All-American" (1988) and aging quarterback Jack Rooney in "Any Given Sunday" (1999). He's also a pretty good football coach, having played Syracuse University's Ben Schwartzwalder in "The Express" (2008). He's also familiar with high school track, having played Paul Morelli in "Our Winning Season" (1978), and bicycle racing, having played Mike in "Breaking Away" (1979). He also proved that you're never too old to play baseball as Jim Morris in "The Rookie" (2002), helped Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) get back on the board after a shark attack as her father Tom in "Soul Surfer" (2011) and dabbled in the world of soccer in "Playing for Keeps" (2012).
Congratulations Mr. Sports Movie, Dennis Quaid!