Former NFL star and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George will make his Broadway debut in the musical “Chicago,” taking on the role of fast-talking lawyer Billy Flynn, at the Ambassador Theatre beginning January 11, 2016.
And while it may seem like it’s something out of left field for those who haven’t been paying attention, long time readers of this blog will remember past profiles I’ve published on the athlete-turned-actor; most recently, you might recall the below “60 Minutes Sports” episode, which aired on February 5, 2014, on Showtime, which took a look George’s “second act.”
He put in 8 years of work at the pro football level, retired in 2004 with the Dallas Cowboys, and he’s been pursuing acting for much of the last decade. First, heading to Los Angeles, realizing he didn’t quite have what it takes; then returning to Tennessee where he trained with an acting coach, took some bit parts in films, and TV, and eventually took to the stage doing Shakespeare – specifically, the title roles in Julius Caesar and Othello.
Denice Hicks of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival when “Caesar” was staged there, called George “a really strong actor — really, really strong… a charismatic stage presence. There is no other actor who could play Caesar the way he could.”
And from audience member Sherry Lawler who isn’t a football fan, but said “He reminds me of Yul Brenner in The King and I.”
So this isn’t some temporary distraction for Eddie; he’s taking acting very seriously, embracing the challenge, and hopes to hone his skills on stage and eventually transfer them to film and TV.
At least he’s putting the work and the years in, and not just counting on his name and connections to break in. He could likely have taken a much quicker path, but didn’t, spending a decade working up to what will be his Broadway debut in a few months.
Some of his other stage credits include: Matthew Lopez’s “The Whipping Man” at the Nashville Repertory Theatre; and Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Topdog/Underdog” at Amun Ra Theatre.
Set in the 1920s, “Chicago” is a satire of how show business and the media can make celebrities out of criminals.
Watch a piece of the “60 Minutes Sports” episode from last year, with George in focus.