HOLLYWOOD — Hollywood Boulevard got a shot of testosterone Thursday when dozens of football players and one hulking California governor joined the nearly all-male cast of "The Longest Yard" for the movie's premiere.
"It's not a big lesbian movie at all, but if you like men, this movie's for you," Chris Rock joked as he surveyed the red carpet, where Michael Irvin was putting former Dallas Cowboys teammate Emmitt Smith in a headlock.
Rock and co-stars Adam Sandler and Nelly were dwarfed by professional athletes as they entered Grauman's Chinese Theatre, but according to some of the football players in the movie, the actors were more physical than they look.
"A lot of these actors went to [practice twice a day] for a couple of weeks ... and they did all right," said linebacker-turned-actor Brian Bosworth.
"I walked on the set one day and we were shooting baskets," recalled Irvin, in a pinstripe suit. "I was like, 'Oh, there's Nelly, I'm gonna go show this hip-hop guy what an athlete really looks like.' And Nelly actually won the game. There's no doubt in my mind he could've played in the NFL, and I'm not joking. He's that much of a talent."
And sports and music apparently aren't his only talents. "The Longest Yard," a remake of a 1974 movie starring Burt Reynolds (who also stars in the new version and came out for the premiere), is the rapper's first big-screen movie (following the direct-to-video "Snipes"), but his co-stars said he came off like a seasoned veteran.
"He has some heavy scenes in the movie and he kicked ass on 'em," said Sandler, casually dressed in a jacket and T-shirt. "And every time it gets to him in the movie, girls scream! Besides being a great actor, he's the greatest guy to hang with. He knows so much about sports."
"The kid's definitely got chops," "Saturday Night Live" alum Tracy Morgan added.
As hundreds of fans across the street chanted his name and held up "We Love Nelly" signs, the rapper, blinging from hand to mouth, nonchalantly strolled from one reporter to the next. "I've been down so many red carpets, but it's different [this time]: I'm going to see my movie," Nelly said.
After working with him on "The Longest Yard," Chris Rock is confident Nelly has a future in Hollywood. He even offered a suggestion for his next movie.
"I'd love to see 'Pimp Juice: The Movie,' " Rock said. "I'd go see that. It'd be like a superhero who was very meek and mild-mannered until he drinks his Pimp Juice and then he goes around smacking women and taking money from them."
While "American Idol" castoff Constantine Maroulis signed autographs for a long line of girls nearby, Rob Schneider set off a flood of paparazzi flashes when he opened his sport coat to reveal a T-shirt stating: "Entertainment Weekly Sucks."
"It's such a negative magazine, I'm so sick of it," he explained later. "They're slamming people, saying bad things about Dave Chappelle, and he's a good guy." (The magazine reported last week that Chappelle had checked himself in to a mental institution, which the comedian later denied. See "Dave Chappelle Reportedly In Mental Health Facility.")
Just as the movie was about to begin, a herd of security guards rushed to clear the red carpet of roaming reporters and a cavalcade of limos zipped up. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and wife Maria Shriver stepped out and immediately began posing with the actors.
So, Arnold, are you a Nelly fan?
"This is going to be a great movie."
Such a politician.
"The Longest Yard" opens May 27.
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