New Goal: A former Fresno athlete finds himself in films.
By Donald Munro
The Fresno Bee
(Monday, August 5, 2002)
Most college football players presumably dream of the big time: NFL stardom, million-dollar contracts, endorsement deals, fan adulation.
But goofing off on a movie screen with Adam Sandler? Playing perplexed straight man to Dana Carvey?
For Brandon Molale, who played in the early 1990s as a guard at California State University, Fresno, a future life as a professional actor was far from his mind. Sure, he took a few theater classes for fun.
But his idea of performing for the camera was more along the lines of a postgame interview on "Monday Night Football" than a closeup in "Mr. Deeds."
"Acting was a secondary hobby of mine," the 30-year-old Molale says.
"I never saw myself doing this as a full-time job. But in the back of my mind I always wanted to."
Football isn't exactly known for its job security, however. In 1992 as a sophomore, Molale played one play for the Bulldogs in a game against Oregon State. The following week he was scheduled to be a starter. Then he blew out his knee in practice.
He ended up playing sporadically on the second team as a junior.
"I kind of missed my peak," he says. "But I had no regrets. I enjoyed immensely my time at Fresno State."
Molale might have lost his chance at a pro career. But he still had his football-player build. After college and a few years spent in the physical fitness business, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue the acting bug, and within a few weeks he was working on a football commercial.
You might say that "football acting" is a specialized niche -- and Molale has worked his way up in it. He landed a gig doing football stunts for Sandler's "The Waterboy," which Molale describes as his "toughest Hollywood shoot" to this day.
But he loved it -- everything from the lights, cameras and action to the exquisitely catered meals.
"I said to myself, you get paid this kind of money and eat this kind of food?
"Maybe I'm in the wrong business," he says.
Other jobs followed, and soon Molale was performing stunts and teaching other people how to make football on screen look real.
He coordinated football stunts for the PBS show "American Family" and coordinated the opening title sequence for last season's "Everybody Loves Raymond."
Still, it's a big leap from bone-crunching stunts on screen to an actual speaking role.
One thing going for him is that the 6-feet, 5-inch Molale, who weighs 235 pounds, has a distinctive look.
"I'm not an ugly guy, but I'm not the best-looking guy," he says. "I'm like the all-American quarterback you see next door. I don't put on a front."
In the kiddie flick "The Master of Disguise," which opened Friday nationwide, Molale has a small role as a doorman at the exclusive Turtle Club.
Star Dana Carvey, dressed in a turtle suit, tries to gain entry. Molale's main job is to look incredulous -- a shot that made it into the film's TV commercial.
In "Mr. Deeds," Molale has a bigger role. He plays a snotty, profane football player who squares off against his new boss, played by Sandler. One scene involves him being flipped over a couch -- which took about 10 takes to shoot.
Molale says both stars encouraged a relaxed, improvisational atmosphere on set. "They're both so laid back and really easy to get along with. Neither of them has any attitude."
He's taking acting lessons, but Molale knows that Hollywood can be a tough place to make a living -- even tougher than the football field.
In the movie "Orange County," Molale had a stunt role with six or seven lines of dialogue.
He took a friend to the cast-crew screening of the film only to discover he'd been totally cut out of the movie.
In other words: Don't count on anything until you see the final print. He laughs at the memory.
"I have some publicity stills, but that's the only proof I was in the film."
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 441-6373.