NEWS, NOTES &
Friday, August 25, 2006
By Bethany Bradsher
LeFever playing for pay the
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In his younger days, Greg LeFever dreamed of
being a professional football player. But that career path hasn’t worked
out, so he’s working on becoming a movie star.
Greg LeFever, during
his days as an East
Not a bad alternative for the former Pirate
linebacker, who starred for ECU in 2000-01 and now has two major films and
two television shows to his credit. The first movie LeFever appeared in,
“Invincible,” opens nationwide today.
“Invincible,” starring Mark Wahlberg, is the
true story of Vince Papale, a down-and-out Philadelphia Eagles fan with no
college playing experience who makes the team in an open tryout. LeFever
plays the part of one of Papale’s Eagles teammates, former All-Pro
linebacker Frank LeMaster.
Known as a tenacious defender in his college
playing days, LeFever spent several years playing in the Arena Football
League and the Canadian Football League, and it was his Arena connections
that led him to the silver screen. One of his Arena teammates gave his name
to Pat O’Hara, a former Arena player who now recruits and trains athletes
for sports movies.
O’Hara invited LeFever to come to Philadelphia,
where production was being planned for “Invincible.” LeFever was put through
a series of drills to make sure he was fit to be a movie football player,
and after he was hired he went through several weeks of practice and two
months of filming scenes on the football field, in the locker room and in
the dormitory that served as the set for the Eagles training camp.
“The NFL sponsored the movie, so we could use
the real team and the real names of the guys,” LeFever said.
The first part of the movie production was an
intense practice period not unlike preseason camp, LeFever said, except they
weren’t reviewing as many plays as a real team would use. Instead, they were
going over the choreographed plays and series from the script until they
Because the football segments are supposed to be
authentic in films like “Invincible,” they use actors who aren’t afraid to
go full speed on the gridiron.
“It’s all real,” LeFever said. “That’s why they
hire guys like us. They say, you guys are going full speed. We had to film
one kickoff scene 35 times until we got it right, and we were going full
speed every time.”
After the practice sessions, the quasi-Eagles
moved from a high school field to Philadelphia’s Franklin Field for filming.
The football scenes came first, followed by the dormitory and locker room
scenes where LeFever said he was mostly part of the background.
He did have one speaking part, where he was
instructed to call out Papale’s name during a drill. And because of that
line, the movie’s producers enrolled LeFever in the Screen Actor’s Guild.
His SAG status increased his pay scale and has opened other doors in his
In the spring, he went to Huntington, WV, and
Atlanta for a part in “We Are Marshall,” the story of the 1970 plane crash
that killed 75 members of the Marshall University football team. As in
“Invincible,” LeFever was part of the football and locker room scenes in the
Marshall movie, which he said was “really emotional.”
The Thundering Herd team was returning from
Greenville, where they had been defeated by East Carolina, when the plane
crashed. When the director learned that LeFever had played for ECU, he let
him be the ECU player who made the definitive defensive play that clinched
the Pirate victory.
In between movies, LeFever followed through on a
connection from “Invincible” and flew to California to play the part of a
bouncer in two television episodes, in “Alias” and “Invasion.” And he’s
slated to play the part of yet another football player in a Disney movie
that is scheduled to start filming in October.
But even as his acting credits pile up,
LeFever’s real-time football aspirations haven’t died completely. His
brother plays in the German Football League, and LeFever is still hoping to
get a shot on one of the German team rosters.
For now, he’s starring on a big screen near you,
with bone-jarring tackles that will remind some Pirate fans of LeFever’s
best ECU days.
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