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Riggins Discusses Role In 'The Wedding Ringer'

Posted Jan 23, 2015

Acting in his first movie, legendary Redskins running back John Riggins talks being on set with Kevin Hart and using a stunt double.

When legendary Redskins running back John Riggins first received the script to play a small role in "The Wedding Ringer," he didn't know who the film's star, Kevin Hart, was.

"To be honest, no," he said. "When the script came out and they told me who was going to be in it, I started doing a little research. Obviosuly you need to see his body of work."

He found out quickly. 

After documenting Riggins' small cameo in the film, which was released last week, Redskins.com caught up with the Hall of Fame running back to discuss his two days on set.

"Kevin, because he was kind of the star of the film, he was pretty much tied up," Riggins said. "So I didn’t really get to talk to him but between takes you could tell he was Kevin Hart. He was still doing stand up. That is who he is."

Riggins found out about the comedy (a man getting married that needs help throwing together a wedding party) through his agent in Los Angeles. Producers were looking for a football player to join Joe Namath and Ed "Too Tall" Jones for a short scene, and Riggins jumped at the opportunity.

"I read the script," he said. "Like everything else, you’ve got to kind of manage everything -- that’s Hollywood. This was the first film I’ve ever made. I’ve been in plenty of TV stuff. They’ll make you wear a tutu with a lampshade on you if you’re willing to do it and make a big thing out of you. It wasn’t anything I was going to be embarrassed about."

The scene -- a touch-football game on a muddy field -- seemed to be an easy environment to play in. But the slippery conditions -- "they kind of overdid it there," Riggins said -- gave him the opportunity to have a stunt double.

Before travelling out to Van Nuys, Calif., to shoot, makeup artists from a Silver Spring, Md., company came to Riggins' house to wrap his head for a plaster cast. They used a replica of his head to make a mask for the stunt person.

"It was kind of a long and involved process," he said. "With a good camera they try and create the illusion, and that’s what making films is all about. That was pretty cool. At my age I need a [stunt] triple."

Because of his short stay on set, Riggins wasn't able to hang out too much with other actors, like Hart's co-star Josh Gad, but did get a few moments with Ed "Too Tall" Jones.

"I had never met  [Jones] up close and personal where we could actually talk," Riggins said. "I enjoyed it. I got to see Joe a little bit. At the same time you’re there to work and you go out and do what you’ve got to do.

"I suppose people get that impression that everybody hangs out together. In some ways it’s like football. I hung out with the offensive linemen. One thinks you know everybody on the team but it doesn’t always work out that way."

Riggins, who has performed on the stage and small screen, most recently acted in a few episodes of "One Tree Hill." Ironically, "The Wedding Ringer," too, has a younger audience. Young enough where the name John Riggins doesn't hold much meaning.

"Clearly the demographics for this movie wouldn’t be the demographics that know who John Riggins or Joe Namath would be I’m guessing," Riggins joked. "The few geezers [who attend] -- they’ll recognize us."

As for Hart, Riggins, who filmed his scene in October 2013, is impressed with the comedian's rapid saturation in the industry.

"His star has really been rising the last couple of years," he said. "They’re not the same, but the manic energy like Robin Williams, they’re similar in the way that they’re constantly on. They’re never off."

RELATED LINKS:
-- Dale Earnhardt Jr. In A Riggins Jersey
-- Redskins Team Store Hosts Riggins Meet-And-Greet

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