July 14, 2004 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Tampa Bay Storm
TAMPA, FL -- Five members of the 2004 Tampa Bay Storm squad will be back on the football field sooner than expected when they begin shooting the remake of the classic movie The Longest Yard in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Friday.
Storm linemen Nyle Wiren, Louis Williams, and Evan Pilgrim, along with wide receiver/defensive back Clif Dell will join quarterback Pat O'Hara in Santa Fe.
O'Hara and Wiren are no strangers to the big screen, as both had roles in Any Given Sunday. O'Hara also had a part in Adam Sandler's The Waterboy. Dell, Williams, and Pilgrim will be making their acting debuts.
The movie, which was originally released in 1974, is a story of a former professional quarterback and a former collegiate head coach who are both in prison. The two put together a team of inmates to play a football game against a team made of the prison guards. The remake is being produced by Happy Madison Productions, owned by Adam Sandler.
The inmates' quarterback, Paul Crewe, was played by Burt Reynolds in the original. In the remake, Sandler will play the role of Crewe, while Reynolds will be cast as the inmates' coach. Others starring in the movie include Chris Rock, professional wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin, rapper Nelly, and former NFL stars Michael Irvin, Bill Romanowski, and Brian Bosworth.
In all, approximately 45 current and former football players have been cast for roles in the movie. About 27 of those players came from the Arena Football League, including four from the Storm (Wiren, Williams, Dell, and Pilgrim). O'Hara, the fifth Storm member, has an off-camera role.
Though off-camera, O'Hara's role is an integral one. He is serving as Assistant Football Coordinator for Reel Sports Solutions, a company hired by the production company to hire and train all of the football players. In addition, Reel Sports Solutions was charged with designing all of the plays for the movie based on the script. The plays are later put into animation and handed to the director, who utilizes the animation to help determine camera placement.
O'Hara left Tampa for Los Angeles shortly after the Storm were eliminated from the 2004 AFL playoffs. While in Los Angeles, he has also helped to recruit players to participate in the movie. Approximately 1,500 candidates showed up for an open casting call. After the group was cut to about 325 athletes, they were put through a three-day combine, similar to the NFL combine. From there the list was pared to approximately 60 potential new actors. That number was cut down even further to the current number of about 45.
As if that was not enough, O'Hara, a former quarterback at USC, has also teamed up with Sean Salisbury, another former USC signal caller, to help train Sandler for his role. The two are also working with William Fichtner, who will play the quarterback for the Guards team.
Wiren is slated to serve as Stone Cold Steve Austin's body double in the movie. Austin will be the fullback on the Guards team. Williams is also slated to be a body double for actor Conrad Goode. He will play the center on the Guards team. Dell and Pilgrim will both play position players on the Guards team. Pilgrim will be a defensive tackle, while Dell will be a cornerback.
Shooting in Santa Fe is scheduled to last five weeks. The scenes will be shot at a penitentiary south of the city. The scenes shot there will make up approximately 35% of the movie. From there the cast will move on to Los Angeles, where they will shoot the remainder of the film through the end of October. Much of that will be the actual game scenes. The shooting in Los Angeles will take place at El Camino College.
Aside from the Storm players, other notable AFL athletes who are scheduled to be in the movie include Los Angeles Avengers offensive specialist Chris Jackson, Austin Wranglers lineman Lucas Yarnell, Indiana Firebirds wide receiver/linebacker Brett Bech, Firebirds wide receiver/defensive back Evan Hlavacek, Las Vegas Gladiators wide receiver/defensive back Maurice Bryant, and New York Dragons lineman Marcus Owen, just to name a few.