Last Sunday’s Oscar ceremony saw British actor Eddie Redmayne pick up the Best Actor award for his portrayal of famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in the movie ”The Theory of Everything”. Redmayne’s stunning performance in the film about Hawking’s life, his rise to greatness and his subsequent fight against ALS has won critical claim and also earned the film a nod for best Picture. Despite losing out to Birdman in the end, The Theory of Everything has entertained audiences across the world with some great acting performances including one strangely by a World Cup winning defender.
Frank Leboeuf is better known for his playing days as a tough tackling defender for Chelsea, Marseille and France rather than his acting. But after retiring from the game, Leboeuf has returned to his first passion acting and is starting to create new waves with his on screen performances. The 50 time capped French centre back, who helped France win the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championships starred as the Swiss doctor who breaks the news to Hawking’s wife that he may never speak again. Leboeuf is only in the movie for a three minute cameo performance but in doing so became the first World Cup winner to star in an Oscar nominated movie.
Leboeuf certainly isn’t the first former footballer to give acting a try. Fellow Frenchman Eric Cantona has starred in several movies since his retirement in 1997 including roles in Elizabeth and Looking for Eric and has in recently become a stage actor alongside his wife Rachida Brakni. Another striker who had a brief spell in front of the camera was former Rangers manager Ally McCoist who ironically played a fictional legendary Celtic player in the Robert Duvall movie “A Shot to Glory” along with former Celtic midfielder Didier Agathe. The 1981 cult classic “Escape to Victory” about allied prisoners in a German prison camp during the war who organize a match against their Nazi guards, several famous faces from football played key roles. Alongside actors Slyvester Stallone, Micheal Caine and Max von Sydow were the likes of Bobby Moore, Pele, Ossie Ardiles and John Wark. The film received great attention upon its theatrical release due in part to the famous players featured in the movie.
However none of the footballers involved quite managed to break into Hollywood following the film’s success. Indeed only on footballer has managed to do so and remain part of it – former Wimbledon hard man Vinnie Jones. Jones has starred in over 57 movies since he retired from the game in 1999 including blockbusters “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “X-Men: The Last Stand”. Jones has used his hardman image to his benefit securing some leading roles along the way, something that Leboeuf knows that the path into Hollywood is a rocky one that has been well travelled by many before him that have failed. However starring in an Oscar winning movie, even albeit a small part is a huge step forward for the former defender as he looks to start a new chapter in his life as an actor.