At 6-foot-11, Larry Sanders may already seem larger than life, but just imagine him on a two-story movie screen.
If Sanders has his way, you’ll eventually see more of him in the giant, silver screen variety. The former VCU Basketball fan favorite and current Milwaukee Bucks forward will make his big screen debut in January with the release of “Movie 43”, an ensemble comedy that features Emma Stone, Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman and a number of other stars. Sanders appears as, wait for it, a basketball player. He also wears a Jheri curl in the scene as a member of a team from the 1970s.
“It was a wig,” Sanders assures. “It was either that or they were going to do something with my mohawk at the time.”
Sanders actually shot the scenes for the movie over three days in Los Angeles prior to his rookie season two years ago. He says he really enjoyed the experience, including meeting Terrence Howard, who plays the coach of Sanders’ team.
“Terrence Howard was just amazingly funny. He was telling stories and stuff. I had never really seen how funny he was before,” Sanders said.
But acting is no laughing matter to Sanders, who says he’d love to become more involved with the movie industry in the future. He says he’s currently writing a script for a “mockumentary” he wants to shoot with NBA players next summer.
“I feel like it’s another way to express myself,” he said. “Acting and movies have always been of interest to me. I like all aspects. That’s what I grew up with, movies and music.”
“Movie 43” is definitely for an adult audience. It’s directed by Peter Farrelly of “Something About Mary” and “Dumb & Dumber” fame and is described on RottenTomatoes.com as “…one of the most shocking, original, and dangerous comedies ever made.” So, there’s that. But Sanders, father of a two-year-old son, says he’d prefer to work on movies geared towards children in the future.
If you don’t think there’s a market for a tall guy in Hollywood, just know that Sanders wouldn’t be the first human skyscraper to work in front of the camera. Wilt Chamberlain was in “Conan the Destroyer” and former Nuggets’ standout Alex English starred in “Amazing Grace and Chuck” (okay, he was a basketball player). Longtime actor Richard Kiel (“The Spy Who Loved Me”, “Happy Gilmore”) is 7-foot-2, Ted Cassidy (Lurch from “The Addams Family”) was 6-foot-9 and Fred Gwynne of “ The Munsters” and “Car 54, Where Are You?” fame was 6-foot-8. That’s just a few. I haven’t even mentioned “Space Jam” yet.
“Movie 43” opens in theaters on Jan. 25, 2013.
WE TALKED BASKETBALL TOO
Sanders is entering his third season with the Bucks. In two previous years, Sanders averaged 4.0 points and 3.0 rebounds, mostly off the bench, for Milwaukee. Although those numbers don’t explode off the page, Sanders believes he can play a more central role for the Bucks this year.
He saw his playing time increase toward the end of the 2011-12 season and performed well, despite missing two games to a league suspension for fighting and one to illness. Sanders averaged 5.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game in 11 April contests, including 14 points and seven rebounds against Portland, as well as 12 points and five blocks against Philadelphia.
Sanders also expects he’ll benefit from a more productive offseason. Last summer, the NBA lockout prevented players from having any contact with their teams, and Sanders says he didn’t maximize his time away.
“This summer and last summer are like day and night,” he said. “No one knew if the league was going to start back. I didn’t know if I was going to be in Europe. Nothing was stable. It was really shaky for me. I didn’t handle it as well as I could’ve.”
Sanders says it took months for him to feel caught up.
“I think that summer was kind of a waste,” he admits. “I wasn’t in the shape I should’ve been and in tune as I should’ve been until the end of the season. It took me those 40-50 games to get there. This year I don’t have to play myself into shape.”
Instead, Sanders spend more time working out in Milwaukee in the offseason, as well as a stint in the Las Vegas Summer League.
The extra repetitions are helping Sanders learn to play within himself. Sanders’ production per 36 minutes last season was 11.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.4 blocked shots, which is pretty respectable. But he’s had trouble staying on the floor because of foul trouble. Last year, he fouled at an entirely-too-high rate of 5.8 per 36 minutes. Sanders believes he can play more consistently all around, which will help him commit fewer fouls.
“I was just playing 100 miles per hour all the time, and then I would play 40 miles an hour. You can’t do that. I’ve got to find that even pace, and I think I’m on the right track now.”
In three preseason contests this year, Sanders has averaged 7.0 points and 6.7 rebounds while playing about 18 minutes a game. With the regular season just a couple of weeks away, Sanders is feeling confident about his approach to the game.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a sense of urgency,” Sanders said. “But when you work hard and keep a good mindset, things tend to fall into place, and my mindset is to create those habits. I think if you keep that same attitude and mindset, good things will happen.”
The Bucks, who finished 31-35 and missed the playoffs last year, open the 2012-13 season Nov. 2 at the Boston Celtics.