Ahman Green Poses With Virginia Boren ("Sheryl") And Scott Harpt ("Chester McPhail").
Ahman Green began his movie career in the most routine of ways.
During a late afternoon in April, the Packers running back sauntered over to the bar at one of his favorite haunts, KoKo Sushi Bar and Lounge. He ordered his usual -- 15 pieces of tuna and salmon sashimi -- when he overheard Virginia Boren, one of the co-owners and a local actress, discussing her role in a comedic movie. His interest immediately piqued.
"I kind of put it out there that if the director or whoever's doing the casting wants to write me in, I'm game," he said. "I'm a movie guy. I watch tons of movies."
A few days later, writer/director/lead actor Scott Harpt re-wrote the script to give Green a four-line part in his short movie titled "Chester McPhail."
The basic plot of the short ensemble comedy, which the filmmakers will screen for the first time on Aug. 6, revolves around McPhail, a lovable loser who must raise someone else's two-year-old child by himself.
"He doesn't fit in," said Harpt, who plays McPhail in the picture. "The world's not working for him."
The filmmakers did not force Green into the script when they learned of his interest in the picture. Instead his role naturally fits, humorously revealing more about the McPhail's character.
"The film is better because he's in it," Harpt said. "It really worked out better that way. We didn't want to just stuff him in because he's a Green Bay Packer."
Initially, Boren's character, Sheryl, hangs out at KoKo's, waiting for the man of her dreams. She goes on two blind dates there. The second date was supposed to be an attractive man while the lame McPhail serves as her first and nightmare date.
"Chester's of course being Chester, not meeting any of the molds of the perfect man she's trying to fit into," said Scott McPherson, the producer and actor playing Chester's friend Ricky in the film.
Once Harpt learned of Green's interest in the film, he wrote Green in as the second date. He portrays a caricature of himself, showing up for the date wearing his practice uniform.
Harpt also changed the script to have Sheryl rave about her love of the Packers and Batman. Green, a Batman enthusiast, has an extensive collection of comic books, pictures, posters and a tattoo on his leg featuring the Caped Crusader's logo.
"If you knew Green was coming, it'd be perfect for her," Harpt said. "This is just one of the ways the world is completely unfair to [Chester]."
The running back made his small part sound like an easy gig.
"I'm just playing myself," he said. "It didn't take much to remember because I do radio interviews and commercials all the time."
The filmmakers, however, raved about his conscientiousness. Green filmed his scene in just a couple of hours but worked with the cast and crew for five or six days. He went to rehearsals. He made several trips to Harpt's home to discuss the part. He called and e-mailed McPherson repeatedly to gain a better understanding of the script and revised his lines, making them sound like something he would naturally say.
"It's not like he just showed up," Harpt said. "He really committed to it and tried to do a good job."
Added McPherson: "He probably knew his lines better than I did."
Green required little direction. Harpt described the action he was looking for in the scene, and Green would go from there. Perhaps because of his television experience from broadcast interviews and a game show appearance on "Wheel of Fortune" in 2001, he seemed comfortable in front of the camera.
"He definitely has natural charisma," Harpt said. "He's got a presence about him. When he's in the scene, he steals it."
The scene-stealing running back never acted in plays during high school at Central High School in Omaha, Neb., or during college at the University of Nebraska. However, he plans to pursue a movie career and take acting classes after he retires from professional football.
And his first taste of the business - albeit on a small scale -- should help him down the line.
"I kind of got my ears wet in that type of industry because it's a tough industry - definitely more cutthroat than football," Green said.
While the experience benefited Green, his presence has also helped the filmmakers by adding a higher profile to the movie. Three weeks before the movie's debut screening in DePere Cinema Café, they sold out all 192 seats and have higher hopes for the film because of his role.
"We would be mistaken if we didn't," McPherson said. "He helped us to live that dream to treat it like a blockbuster."
After screening the film in DePere, McPherson plans to release the DVD in collectible and comic book stores. They will also submit the film to the Wildwood Film Festival in Appleton, Wis., the Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison, Wis., the Milwaukee International Film Festival, the Chicago Short Film Festival and the prestigious 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
There is no guarantee any of the festivals will accept the film. But in a perfect world, they would screen it, and a major film studio would then buy it. The film is 25 minutes long because most festivals require a movie to run less than 40 minutes to be considered a short film. Otherwise the picture must fall into the feature category.
But if a company loves the film, they often ask for a longer version of the short. Indeed film executives asked the creators of "Napoleon Dynamite," which began as a short, to expand into a full-length film.
Although no official plans have been made, Maroon Films, named for the high school mascot of Menominee (Mich.) High School where Harpt and McPherson became friends, wants to use Green again in one of their movies. They are mulling over a decision to offer him a role in their next movie, a thriller entitled "Bone Badge."
The running back also has expressed interest in future roles, saying he wants to gain all the acting experience he can.
"Entertainment acting is something I have a dream to do," he said. "I'm not just going to give up football and go into acting, but it's something that when I'm done, hopefully I can travel along that avenue."