ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — Larry Sanders sat in a chair for hours, watching his many tattoos get spray painted over.
No, the young Milwaukee Bucks forward didn’t suddenly have a change of heart and want them removed. It’s just that altering appearances for a new role is part of being a big Hollywood star.
OK, that last part might be a stretch, but when Sanders’ former agent Happy Walters called and asked if he was interested in playing a role in an upcoming movie, Sanders showed little hesitation before agreeing.
“Film is something I’ve always been interested in,” Sanders said. “So we flew out to LA to shoot the movie in a few days. It was pretty cool. It was just a great experience.”
This isn’t some small production. “Movie 43” features seemingly half of Hollywood. Halle Berry, Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Bell, Gerard Butler, Terrence Howard, Hugh Jackman, Johnny Knoxville, J.B. Smoove, Emma Stone, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Naomi Watts, Richard Gere and Kate Winslet are among the big names in the movie.
Excuse Sanders, now a rapidly improving third-year pro, for being a bit wide-eyed when he arrived on set in Los Angeles in 2010.
“It was amazing,” he said. “To be on an actual set, spend a day, you get a new appreciation for those guys. They work all day and sit there and do so many takes.”
The movie is set to be released Jan. 25, and its website describes the film as “one of the most shocking, original and dangerous comedies ever made” while warning viewers to “remove all boundaries and then stand back, way back.” The description ends with “Warning: not for the weak-stomached, faint of heart or easily offended.”
One look at the trailer reveals that the warning is spot on. This certainly isn’t a film for everyone – in fact, we can’t even link to the trailer because it requires age verification to view. It’s a crude comedy with no apparent plot. Sanders plays a basketball player who, along with Denver Nuggets forward Corey Brewer and Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley, is shown in the trailer getting a pregame pep talk from his coach, played by Howard.
“He was hilarious,” Sanders said of Howard, who was the only big star Sanders had much chance to interact with in his one day on set.
But the basketball team was from the 1970s. That meant Sanders had to go through a bit of a transformation, including adding an afro. And because tattoos weren’t nearly as prevalent back then, all of his had to be covered up.
Anyone who has spent time watching Sanders on the court knows how passionate, emotional and full of life he is. An avid film fan, he views acting as another way to get in front of an audience.
“I love the camera,” said Sanders, who has only seen clips of the movie and plans to watch it for the first time with his teammates after its release. “I love any way you can express your creativity to the world. Basketball is a form of doing that, and so are movies. It’s kind of interesting.”
Is a long-term acting career in the works for Sanders? Many NBA stars like Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan and Ray Allen have dipped into the Hollywood world. Though Sanders spent last summer taking acting classes, he’s a bit hesitant to go any further.
“We are going to see how this movie goes, and then we are going to see if I still have that interest,” Sanders laughed. “Hopefully it will take off a little bit more. I definitely think it is something I can do.”