With roles in the upcoming Furious 7, San Andreas, Journey to the Center of the Earth sequels and Shazam!, Dwayne Johnson is presumably too busy with making movies to do some work in TV. But the action hero apparently made time in his schedule for an upcoming project. And besides, this isn’t just for TV — it’s for HBO.
Johnson will star in Ballers for the premium cable network, a series about a group of retired and current pro football players. The former WWE wrestler plays Spencer Strassmore, one of the retired athletes whose story we’ll follow. Based on the production’s half-hour pilot, HBO decided to pick up Ballers for a series run.
You can see a very brief glimpse of Johnson on the show in this promotional video HBO ran at the end of 2014. The one-second clip can be seen at the 2:14 mark.
The former WWE wrestler also has a behind-the-camera role with the show, which likely explains why he’s headlining a TV series for the first time. Johnson is one of Ballers‘ executive producers, along with Mark Wahlberg (whom he starred with in 2013’s Pain and Gain), Steve Levinson (Wahlberg’s manager and frequent production partner, who developed the idea for the series), Evan Reilly (the series’ showrunner) and Peter Berg.
Berg, who also directed the Ballers pilot, is a particularly interesting name to be involved, as he executive-produced HBO’s recent State of Play series of sports documentaries. One of the films, titled “Happiness,” dealt with the difficulties NFL players face when they enter retirement and attempt to replace the game and camaraderie with teammates in their daily lives. That could very well be a component of Ballers, based on the description of the show.
Wahlberg and Levinson produced Entourage for HBO, which prompts one to wonder if this will sort of be a sports version of that show, depicting the lifestyle of pro athletes in a comedic fashion. Or could this series get a little dark and venture into the territory that ESPN once explored with Playmakers before the NFL pressured the network to cancel the show?
HBO hasn’t announced a premiere date for Ballers, but its IMDB page says the show is set for a July release.