Every actor has been scouted by a football club. The number of lads who nearly signed as a professional footballer before retraining as a performer is perhaps surprising. In the ‘50s, Sean Connery was reported to have been scouted for Celtic. Actually, he was offered a trial by East Fife, but why spoil a good story?
‘I could have been a footballer, but injury put paid to that, so I chose the theatre’, is a claim that appears time-and-again in interviews. Really? To quote the comedy writer Simon Munnery:
“I could’ve been a boxer,
Like my father.
He could’ve been a boxer as well.
I come from a long line of men who
could’ve been boxers.
If only we’d taken any interest in boxing.
Or learned how to box.”
Why am I writing about footballing and acting? Because it goes to the heart of what makes great content. One factor in particular:
Is it unexpected?
The footballer-turned-actor is a tired trope. What surprised us in the ‘50s, and worked for Sean Connery, has become familiar. We know what to expect, and the audience switches off.
Better Jeremy Irons, who remains memorable, because he turned to acting only after failing to get into veterinary school. That is unexpected, and our brains immediately want to know more.
We are curious
How did he go from wanting to be a vet to overnight fame in Brideshead Revisited? We’re interested to know, has he ever regretted not becoming a vet? We’re likely to remember this version of Before They Were Famous for far longer, and it changes our perception of Jeremy Irons. Content needs to work harder, let me show you how.