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  • Cooper Burke

Truth is Stranger than Fiction: Athletes Fit for Character Roles

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Many athletes see their careers played out in front of cameras, and the athletes use their time on the microphones to create controversy, settle scores and make statements, leading to some moments just like big lines in movies. Many athletes like Conor McGregor, Anthony Edwards, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Terry Bradshaw starred on the big screen and many of their counterparts are looking to make the leap into acting as well. There is no denying many athletes could be perfect for roles as fictional characters, and it would create the sort of pop-culture crossover to break the box office.

Dennis Villanueve’s book adaptation “Dune” and its sequel quickly ingrained itself in pop culture with its Star Wars-esque visuals and giant sand worms. Timothee Chalamet’s character, Paul Atreides is a troubled young man who is tabbed by the planet’s elite as the next Messiah, and the perfect fit for the next ruler of House Atreides is UFC lightweight Chase Hooper. The 13-3-0 fighter came into the UFC at just 19 years of age, making him the youngest fighter to debut until Raul Rosas. He strung together 10 wins before taking on Alex Caceres in his second UFC fight ever, and went 2-3 at featherweight before hitting his stride one weight class up and winning two in a row. His curly mop and slender build is perfect for the savior of Arrakis, and the self-proclaimed pop culture nerd could play a convincing young dictator: he just needs to work on the imposing demeanor.

Although Lando Norris posed as Master Chief with a special one-off helmet as a marketing deal, only one driver fits the man of few words that is John-117, and that is Kimi Räikkönen. Originally modeled after the quiet charisma of Chuck Norris, Master Chief morphed into a cult icon after the success of the original series and is one of the most recognizable characters in media today. Räikkönen is known as the “Iceman” for his cool and calm demeanor, as well as his cold reactions to many of the media members. The former F1 champion often responded to reporters in a blunt monotone, giving way to classic answers on missing an award presentation as “I was having a sh*t”. His tapered-off demeanor and quiet leadership style fits the Spartan soldier’s character well, and he would be invaluable in a life-or-death situation against alien enemies. Just don’t ask him to give a post-skirmish interview.

The nuclear monster Godzilla spawned many remakes and spin-offs, including a battle between the Japanese lizard and the giant gorilla King Kong. The character representing post-bomb fears has become a beloved icon of Japanese pop culture, and he is truly a freak of nature. The only man for the job is the Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama, who defies both nature and physics with his combination of size and athleticism. The 7’5” French center is a rare specimen, and he has taken off in his first year on the court. He averages 21.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game while shooting a decent 31.9% from beyond the arc, proving he can truly do it all. He is regarded as the best prospect since Lebron James, and is a combination of a rim protector and point man, adding a new dimension to basketball never seen before. Wembanyama even leaned into the “alien” bit: his size 20.5 shoes releasing under Nike have an extraterrestrial theme, and he may very well be a creation of some lab. For now, though, he is on a trajectory to dominate the NBA for years to come, much as Godzilla dominates the Tokyo skylines.

UFC flyweight title challenger Steve Erceg is a silent killer, and he lets his fists do the talking. Although their personalities could not be any more different, Erceg is a dead ringer for the Big Bang Theory’s Howard Wolowitz. Wolowitz is a goofy character who thinks highly of himself, while Erceg has flown under the radar in media circles despite his meteoric rise in the UFC. “Astro Boy” burst onto the scene with a dismantling of another highly touted prospect in David Dvorak, and he immediately entered the rankings with something to prove. Erceg followed that up with another dominant decision win over Allesandro Costa. His last fight proved to be his best yet, as he put Matt Schnell out with a one-shot left hook that earned him a title fight against current flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja. Although Erceg is not a theoretical physicist, he certainly brings a “Big Bang” to the cage.

All of these athletes would make a stellar addition on the big screen, and their added experience in sports is a plus- fans of both media and athletics would show up in droves to see the best of the best on the court mingle with the best of the best of the screen. After all, who wouldn’t want to see Wembanyama play Godzilla or Hooper lead the people of Arrakis in a struggle for power?

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