Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling

The football legend talks about his biggest feature role to date and gives some Super Bowl picks as well

If you talk to any die-hard football fan, the name Jerry Rice will almost instantly come up when talking about the greatest football players of all-time. The wide receiver holds just about every record imaginable at his position and has three Super Bowl rings and 13 Pro Bowl appearances in his illustrious career. Rice is playing in a whole new kind of field now, with his appearances on Dancing with the Stars, hosting the series Going Pro and his biggest feature film role in Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling, which hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray on January 13. I had the chance to speak with Jerry over the phone and here's what he had to say.

So when did you first hear about this project and when did it first come to you?

Jerry Rice: Well, it sort of fell in my lap at the last second because Terry Bradshaw, he was supposed to do it. I think he came down with an injury or his back went out and I got the call. They faxed the script over and I had to learn it in one day. I did it and I went to Portland to shoot it. In Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling, I didn't play myself. I played Hal Gore and it was an opportunity of a lifetime. Just stepping out of my boundaries a little bit, having a significant strip here. The thing is, when you go to sitcoms and things like that, you have a couple of lines, but you don't have that much. I had a big one here and I had to learn it real fast. I think I did a pretty good job. The same thing I applied to football, I applied to trying to be an actor and hopefully it came off well.

Yeah, absolutely. You were in Necessary Roughness many years ago.

Jerry Rice: Yeah. I don't think I really did anything. I don't think I had a line or anything. I might have had one line, but I just tried to look like a bad guy. If I had known that they had wanted me to be a bad guy, at least I would've had a beard or something going on (Laughs). I didn't have any roughness or anything going, but this role gave me an opportunity to branch out a little bit and to have some fun, show a side of me. It's comedy and I think that people, when they look at it, they're going to look at it and critique it and talk about me and do whatever, but I had a good time.

Is acting something you always wanted to pursue after your football career ended?

Jerry Rice: No. Brian, I'm going to be honest with you. I never thought this would be something that I would be doing right now. In professional football, guys could probably get 10 words out of me, maybe, during the season, because I just went out there and I was focusing so hard on my job. Now I think everybody is just so surprised with the things that I'm doing from Pros vs. Joes to Dancing with the Stars and the skit that I do with Kenny Mayne and all that stuff. They were really shocked, but I'm having a good time. I look at it as it's a lot of variety and a lot of stuff that's going to challenge me and I know that I needed something to fill that void after I stepped away from the game of football.

You said you had to learn this in a day. Was just overcoming that the biggest challenge of this?

Jerry Rice: Overcoming that and also, my co-actor, knowing his lines so I can know exactly when to come in (Laughs). And getting over hearing the director saying, 'Action' where you just completely forget your lines. Just stuff like that. There are no prompters or anything. It was exciting and, like I said, very challenging and I was happy I was able to do it. I want people to go out and buy the DVD and critique it and I'm sure they're going to see a side of me that's going to make them laugh.

What was your first reaction when you came onto the set? Was it what you expected?

Jerry Rice: Like I said, I had done a lot of sitcoms where I had a couple of lines, and that's about it. Now, all of the sudden, to me, this is a major role for me (Laughs). I might be on there five minutes or more, or whatever, but that's major. It's a lot of different lines and stuff like that so just knowing how to throw those lines out there and to sell it and make it believable. I really learned a lot and I know that the outtakes are crazy. I know they'll have a lot of outtakes with this movie, and that's' a lot of fun too and just saying, 'Hey look. I'm not a professional here.' Yes, I want to do a good job, but these guys here, they do this for a living. For me, I'm just learning and I just want to have fun with it.

Have you seen all the extras on the DVD yet?

Jerry Rice: No. I got the DVD last night, so I'm going to watch it tonight and critique it. Just like I did in football, I'm going to sit down and watch what I could've done better or maybe how I should've delivered that line. In football, I was always searching for that perfect game and I never got to that perfect game. That way, you don't get complacent so maybe people will look at this and say, 'Hey, maybe he's a natural.' I don't know, but I just tried to be myself and to have fun with it.

You said this had kind of fell into your lap, so had you seen the first film at all?

Jerry Rice: No, I hadn't seen the first one. This pretty much came up all of the sudden for me. I'm going to sit down and watch what I put on film in Portland. I'm going to sit down and watch it tonight and hopefully it goes over well.

Are you still going to be on Dancing with the Stars and is there anything else you have lined up?

Jerry Rice: Yeah, I'll still be doing the dancing thing with Kenny Mayne when we get a chance to just be as crazy as we want to be. It's a lot of fun, man. People are asking for it and they want to see more of Dance Center, so hopefully Dancing with the Stars they take heed to that and say, 'Hey, maybe we'll have him on twice during the season.' But I'm having a great time with that.

Is there anything else that you're looking into, acting-wise?

Jerry Rice: No, I don't have anything else I'm looking into right now. I like variety and Eddie DeBartolo started an agency to represent guys so that's part of what I'm doing professionally, being a mentor. I have Steve Smith from the New York Giants and also DeShaun Jackson who's with Philadelphia. These guys are still in the playoffs and it'll be weird because I'm going to have to sit back and watch these guys battling each other this weekend. Just doing stuff like that and if anything else should come to the table, I'll look at it and see if it fits me and, if it does, I'll go for it.

So, I've got to ask if you have a Super Bowl pick for us?

Jerry Rice: Man, the scary teams that are out there now are probably the Philadelphia Eagles and probably the San Diego Chargers. In Baltimore with the Titans, it's going to be the battle of the titans (Laughs). It's going to boil down to defense and I think maybe Baltimore has the edge there. With Carolina and also Arizona, I think Carolina is going to win that at home. Anquan Bolden, I'm not sure of his status right now, with the Cardinals. San Diego and Pittsburgh, you've got to watch out for San Diego. They're making a move right now, so I think Phillip Rivers is probably playing with a chip on his shoulder now since he didn't get selected to the Pro Bowl or anything. Then you have Philadelphia and the Giants. It's going to be tough. If I had to pick, I'm thinking in the Super Bowl it might be Baltimore and then also Philadelphia.

Nice. I'm from Minnesota so they (Philadelphia) just beat my Vikings.

Jerry Rice: Oh, man. Yeah. That was a tough one, huh.

Yeah, it was, but it was kind of expected.

Jerry Rice: (Laughs)

Well, that's about all I have for you today, Jerry. Thanks so much for your time.

Jerry Rice: All right buddy. Take care.

You can see Jerry Rice and his rather entertaining performance as Hal Gore when Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray on January 13.