*Capitalizing on the mix of money and groupies that surround major sports in the same way they do Hollywood stars, the biggest draw for HBO’s new series “Ballers” is perhaps the casting of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a role that capitalizes on his football-playing past.
Johnson, who was a star player at the U. of Miami before his wrestling/acting career, plays former NFL linebacker Spencer Strasmore, who hustles as a money manager for current players. Critics are calling “Ballers” the sports-world version of “Entourage.”
Created by an alum of the aforementioned HBO franchise (Stephen Levinson), executive producer Evan Reilly chats with The Wrap about why The Rock chose the role and he sets the record straight on ‘Entourage’ comparisons.
“I understand the comparisons, but to me, they’re two completely different shows,” Reilly tells TheWrap.
Additionally, Reilly says everyone involved is already gearing up for multiple seasons.
“He’s over-the-moon about the material and the fact that he can invest in a character over the course of several seasons, rather than it being a two-hour movie where you kind of have to jam it all in,” Reilly said about Johnson.
Landing the wrestler-turned-Hollywood player was “as big as you can get,” Reilly said.
“The primary thing that interested me in the project was the fact that Dwayne was going to have an opportunity to do television… an opportunity for him to stretch … to show comedic chops and dramatic chops,” Reilly added.
Like the “Entourage” series, “Ballers” will feature cameos from the world of pro sports, lending “some authenticity to the world,” as Reilly put it. However, unlike “Entourage” – “Ballers” characters are not based on real-life inspirations.
“I understand the comparisons or how the comparison might be made, but to me, they’re two completely different shows,” Reilly stated. “Once people get past, after a little while, they’re going to see that.”