The Tenderness of Marshawn Lynch

For the role of a teacher/coach in her new film Bottoms (about a pair of queer girls who start a fight club in their high school in order to get laid), director Emma Seligman made the unorthodox decision to cast former NFL player Marshawn Lynch. It turned out to be an inspired choice — according to an interview with Seligman, he was a natural.

He was one of the best improvisers I’ve ever worked with. I’m not overstating that. He improvised most of his stuff in the movie that ended up in the final cut! We couldn’t ever write something that would be as funny as what he gave us. He’d spew out the most brilliant jokes ever. I kept on encouraging him to do more improv. He’d be like, “Ugh, that stuff’s easy! I wanna get your words right!” I told him that it was so much better than anything we could have written and he was like, “I don’t care about this. I want to honor your work.” I’m so glad I got to talk about him this much.

Here’s a short clip of Lynch doing his thing as Mr. G, “an air-headed high school teacher”:

Lynch also used the film as an opportunity to make some amends for how he reacted when his sister came out as queer:

This was a good opportunity for me because when I was in high school, my sister had came out as being a lesbian or gay — I did not handle it right. You feel me, as a 16-year-old boy, I didn’t handle it the way that I feel like I probably should have. So I told [Seligman] it was giving me an opportunity to correct my wrongs, to rewrite one of my mistakes.

From that interview with Seligman again:

In our first conversation, he told me that his sister is queer and when they were in high school, he didn’t necessarily handle it super well. He felt like this movie coming into his hands was the universe giving him a chance to right his wrongs. That’s what he said. He walked her down the aisle. He felt like they were all good, you know? But his sister thought it’d be really cool if he did this.

If you have never seen this old interview with Lynch about the value of persistence, buckle up because you’re in for a treat:

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