Shaq on his Hollywood plans: ‘I want to be the next Rock’
NEW YORK — Shaquille O’Neal is already known by many names. Superman. The Diesel. The Big Aristotle. But he would like to add another to the list: Movie Star.
In “Uncle Drew,” which opens Friday, he plays one of the former basketball stars (all of them real pros under heavy old-man makeup) reunited by Kyrie Irving’s titular character (first created for a TV ad) to compete in a street-ball tournament at Harlem’s Rucker Park. Shaq’s character, known as Big Fella, is found running a martial arts dojo.
But post-NBA life has been far more successful for the four-time NBA champion. He’s an analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” a popular pitchman and an active entrepreneur and investor. He has dabbled in everything from professional wrestling to law enforcement. He’s even a voice setting on the Waze navigation app. This summer he will tour under the name DJ Diesel.
“Uncle Drew” is just one of the projects that the 46-year-old O’Neal has going. Among his favorites is a TBS show he’s developing with Ken Jeong. Comparing their chemistry to Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, O’Neal says it will be “‘Seinfeld”-epic-ish.”
In an interview, O’Neal spoke about his big plans in Hollywood, why the NBA has gotten soft and where he hopes LeBron James lands this off-season.
AP: What do you miss about playing in the NBA?
O’Neal: I miss all of it. I miss interacting with the fans. I miss having the unexpected adrenaline rush, the doubts, the fear, overcoming the fear. I miss everything.
AP: Do you play anymore?
O’Neal: No, not at all.
AP: How come?
O’Neal: I ain’t got it. Right now, I’m relinquishing all my powers to my son who’s going to UCLA .
AP: That’s a shame. I’d love to see you and Charles Barkley play one-on-one.
O’Neal: Yeah, Charles would lose.
AP: Your post-NBA career has been uncommonly busy. Why?
O’Neal: Seventy percent of all professional athletes have nothing, not even a job, after they’re done. The fact that I couldn’t even call a franchise to get an interview to be a coach frightened me. So nothing was simple. Educate yourself, be nice to people and save your money. If you do that, you should be OK.
AP: You have numerous TV shows and films in development. What are your Hollywood aspirations?
O’Neal: I want to be as big as Rock.
AP: Dwayne Johnson is the biggest movie star on the planet. That’s setting a high bar.
O’Neal: We come from the same place: athletes that transition. That’s my goal. I want similar type movies. I want to get thrillers. I want to get dramas. I want to do comedies. I want to be the next Rock. I want to do a thriller where I’m like a hero and beat up all the bad guys.
AP: It’s been 24 years since your big-screen debut, “Blue Chips.” Do you feel like a veteran actor?
O’Neal: Well, I have shot 15 movies. I always tell my friends I shot 15 movies but they say, “Yeah, but if you play Shaq in nine of the movies, that’s not really acting.” I say, “You make a good point.” I’m just happy to have the opportunity.
AP: Favorite movie?
O’Neal: Oh, “Stepbrothers.” All day, every day. I know that movie by heart.
AP: What else do you like?
O’Neal: I just got done watching “Justice League.” I thought it was pretty good. But they held Superman out too long.
AP: In vogue in today’s NBA are big men who can shoot from the perimeter . Could you have developed a three-point game?
O’Neal: No, I would have played the same way. Because you can’t score 40 points a night shooting jumpers. Nobody has, nobody will. But you can score 40 points a night shooting 60, 70 percent inside the paint. The fact that guys are shooting jumpers, that’s just telling me they don’t like physical contact.