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Eye on Film: Tony Gonzalez Talks New Role in XXX And Super Bowl

Upon retiring from the National Football League in 2013, Tony Gonzalez was considered one of the best tight ends to ever play the game.

Upon retiring from the National Football League in 2013, Tony Gonzalez was considered one of the best tight ends to ever play the game. Back when he was being selected to 14 Pro Bowls and setting league records for touchdown receptions (111) and total receiving yards (15,127) by a tight end, there were rumors of his surefire Hollywood potential once he hung up his cleats. 

Recently, The Shadow League spoke with him about his role in the new film XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, which is his first feature film.

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The Shadow League: Talk about this new career path.


Tony Gonzalez: I had been doing some acting before on things like NCIS for the last ten or fifteen years. I’ve done guest appearances and I liked it a lot. But I never would think ‘Hey, I wanna do movies.’


I got the script last year and I opened it up. It was from my agency. They’re like ‘Yeah, we want you to come out and audition for this movie called ‘XXX’. Of course, I knew what XXX was. I’m a big fan of the franchise. But, all of a sudden this fear came over me. I was like ‘Hell, no. Nah, I’m cool. I’m just gonna pass. It’s not something that I think I could do anyway. I’m gonna be wasting my time and their time. They’re not going to pick me.’

So, I get a call the next day and it’s my manager. I answer the phone and she says ‘Are you out of your F’n mind? You get your butt down there and you audition for this movie. What have you got to lose? Don’t act like you can’t do this.’

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So, I went down there, auditioned for the movie. And there was like ten other people there auditioning for it.


Some people I recognized, too. I saw actors, I saw a UFC guy, and I just let ‘er rip and I got the part. And I guess the rest is history.

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TSL: What was it like working with some of the stars of the new XXX sequel?


TG: It was a great experience being on set with Vin Diesel, seeing Samuel L. Jackson, working with Tony Colette, these veteran actors, Oscar nominated actors.

I ain’t gonna lie, it was nerve-wracking as hell. I kind of reminded me of football from that standpoint. Those nerves and anxiety that I used to get from playing football, especially when I was younger and first starting in the NFL, it brought me back to that. I loved it. Everything about it, I had a blast.

TSL: What’s next as far as acting goes?

TG: You’ll probably be seeing me on NCIS a bit more. I have a small recurring role there. Agent Francis is his name.

I shot a pilot last year, but it didn’t get picked up, but it was a great experience with David Spade and JB Smoove, and Tina Fey was producing it. I’m in the classes again, I’m auditioning for good movies, and we’ll see where it takes me.



TSL: What advice would you give an individual who is attempting to segue from one high-profile career to the next?


TG: First of all, you have to put some irons in the fire. Put them in three or four different places and see the feedback that you get from that. Then, after that you really have to have the attitude like, ‘I don’t give a damn.’ You gotta get rid of the word embarrassment. You gotta realize that failure is part of the process.

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Embrace it, actually. It’s gonna make you get better. I’ve grown so much as a person throughout this process because it’s so scary, you’re not that good at it, I mean, you’re okay at it but you know you can get better. You just have to put in the work again to try to do it.

My self-esteem comes from me doing the right thing and doing the best I can and not worrying what other people are going to think. If someone watches this movie and says, ‘Wow, you suck!’ I don’t care. I’m just going to continue to get better and keep working. I will get better. There’s no doubt in my mind.

I just think that you have to have that attitude. It’s the same attitude I took towards football and it took me a while to figure that out, too. You have to work your ass off, but you also have to stop worrying about what other people think and just have fun and do what’s in your heart.


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(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

TSL: Switching up a bit, who are your Super Bowl picks and why?

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TG: You gotta know who I’m going for in the NFC, my Dirty Birds in Atlanta. But taking my heart and taking my biases out of it, I still think my Atlanta Falcons are going to win this week against the red-hot Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rogers.

Just because of the way Matt Ryan is playing and I think the defense is playing a whole lot better. So, I like the Falcons.


Over in the AFC, the game we have on CBS, I like the Patriots.


As boring as it is, and people are getting tired of it, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the way these guys operate, especially at home in Gillette Stadium, where Ben Roethlisberger has never won. I just think they’re a really, really good football team.

They can run the ball, they can pass the ball with Tom, and they play really, really good defense. They have the number one defense in the league with points allowed. So, I don’t see how Bill Belichick loses at home. He’s going to come up with a good defense to contain the Pittsburgh Big 3 that is Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.

Starting his career as lead writer for EURweb.com back in 1998, Ricardo A Hazell has served as Senior Contributor with The Shadow League since coming to the company in 2013. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the South China Sea Morning Post, the Root and many other publications. At TSL he is charged with exploring black cultural angles where they intersect with the mainstream.