Rob Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends to ever play the game. You know this. I know this. The Patriots know this. Gronk himself knows this. But Gronk is also far closer to the end of his career than the beginning. You know this. I know this. The Patriots know this. Gronk himself knows this, having considered retirement already last offseason.
It will likely come as no surprise to you at all that when his playing career ends, Gronk's next step will likely take him to Hollywood. Gronkowski is a gregarious sort, and he's already made appearances in movies, on TV shows, and on competition programs like Drop the Mic.
But his Hollywood career really started in 2011 when he went to a charity golf event hosted by Boston luminary Mark Wahlberg. Here's the story, via Sports Illustrated:
But of all people, Gronkowski hit it off with Henry Penzi, a longtime friend and associate of Wahlberg's. Shortly after that, Gronkowski invited Penzi over to his house. As the two were hanging out, Penzi noticed that, like thousands of twenty-something bros everywhere, Gronk had an Entourage poster on his bedroom wall. Penzi told him he was one of the original entourage members on whom the TV show was based.
Gronkowski asked if he could be on the show, and Penzi told him no, the show was done, but they were in the process of making an Entourage movie -- maybe they could get him a cameo in that. Penzi started thinking bigger, though. He saw that Gronkowski had a certain charisma, a certain energy. Penzi envisioned Gronkowski having a second career in movies and TV. "He goes, 'Do you think I can do it?'" Penzi recalls. "And I said, 'Yes! You've got personality!' And he said, 'Let's give it a shot.' That's how it all started."
A few years later, during the 2014 NFL offseason, Penzi arranged for Gronkowski to appear in the Entourage movie. There's a scene of him chugging a beer bong at a Hollywood party, and another of him dancing in a swarm of girls. After that he was hooked. "He just got a little taste of it," Penzi says, "and he goes, 'This is fun! Let's make this happen!'"
Penzi has high hopes for Gronkowski, whose film and TV career he has managed since getting him into the Entourage movie.
"My vision was to replace Arnold," Penzi told SI. "I mean, they're getting old -- Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. My vision was, they're older and they've passed the baton to The Rock and [Jason] Statham, and then they'd give it to the next generation, which is Rob."
Gronkowski already turned down a role co-starring in a movie alongside John Cena, Penzi said, due to scheduling conflicts. (Production starts the day after the Super Bowl.) The two roles he will play in 2019 movies are "Party Guy Jake" in a film called Deported and a helicopter gunner in a movie called Boss Level, which actually stars Naomi Watts, Mel Gibson, and Ken Jeong.
Though Penzi seemingly has high hopes for Gronkowski's transition to moves, it appears they're not necessarily shared by everyone in the industry. "He's not much of a chameleon. He's going to be him every single time he's on camera," Chad Ritterbach, a casting director with bokcreative inc. in L.A., told SI. "It's like if you're casting a Dolly Parton or a Shaquille O'Neal; you can't really get a role out of them other than them playing themselves. Anybody who has a prominent body and a prominent presence, they're always going to be them. You can put a comedic spin on it and put somebody in facial hair or age somebody's face. But other than that … "
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Additionally, one of his co-stars in You Can't Have It, Joanna Krupa, was not necessarily a fan of his work ethic, professionalism, or commitment to promoting the project.
Just before the film premiered, TMZ tracked down Joanna Krupa and asked whether Gronkowski would receive Oscar buzz for his role. "Well, I mean, considering he was probably the only person that we had to tape re-take after re-take for his one line, so I don't know," Krupa said. "I think he was too busy focusing on the hot girls on set." Krupa also felt Gronkowski hadn't done enough to promote the film, which, again, was one of the selling points of having him in the movie. "To me, he's not a big team player," she added.
So, that's not great. It's worth noting, however, that the director of the movie, Andre Gordon, seemed to be OK with how Gronkowski promoted. "Listen, I've worked with Gronk, Joanna, Morgan Freeman, you know, James Caan -- everyone does their own promotion differently," Gordon told SI. "Not everyone pushes the film the way that necessarily I envision it, but they do it their own way."
Everything about Gronkowski's potential film career is very theoretical while he's still an active NFL player. And that career will last at least a few more days. If he hangs it up, though, that's when things will start to get interesting.