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The Bradsher Beat
Friday, August 25, 2006

By Bethany Bradsher

LeFever playing for pay the Hollywood way

All rights reserved.

In his younger days, Greg LeFever dreamed of being a professional football player. But that career path hasn’t worked out, so he’s working on becoming a movie star.

Greg LeFever, during
his days as an East
Carolina linebacker.


Not a bad alternative for the former Pirate linebacker, who starred for ECU in 2000-01 and now has two major films and two television shows to his credit. The first movie LeFever appeared in, “Invincible,” opens nationwide today.

“Invincible,” starring Mark Wahlberg, is the true story of Vince Papale, a down-and-out Philadelphia Eagles fan with no college playing experience who makes the team in an open tryout. LeFever plays the part of one of Papale’s Eagles teammates, former All-Pro linebacker Frank LeMaster.

Known as a tenacious defender in his college playing days, LeFever spent several years playing in the Arena Football League and the Canadian Football League, and it was his Arena connections that led him to the silver screen. One of his Arena teammates gave his name to Pat O’Hara, a former Arena player who now recruits and trains athletes for sports movies.

O’Hara invited LeFever to come to Philadelphia, where production was being planned for “Invincible.” LeFever was put through a series of drills to make sure he was fit to be a movie football player, and after he was hired he went through several weeks of practice and two months of filming scenes on the football field, in the locker room and in the dormitory that served as the set for the Eagles training camp.

“The NFL sponsored the movie, so we could use the real team and the real names of the guys,” LeFever said.

The first part of the movie production was an intense practice period not unlike preseason camp, LeFever said, except they weren’t reviewing as many plays as a real team would use. Instead, they were going over the choreographed plays and series from the script until they were perfect.

Because the football segments are supposed to be authentic in films like “Invincible,” they use actors who aren’t afraid to go full speed on the gridiron.

“It’s all real,” LeFever said. “That’s why they hire guys like us. They say, you guys are going full speed. We had to film one kickoff scene 35 times until we got it right, and we were going full speed every time.”

After the practice sessions, the quasi-Eagles moved from a high school field to Philadelphia’s Franklin Field for filming. The football scenes came first, followed by the dormitory and locker room scenes where LeFever said he was mostly part of the background.

He did have one speaking part, where he was instructed to call out Papale’s name during a drill. And because of that line, the movie’s producers enrolled LeFever in the Screen Actor’s Guild. His SAG status increased his pay scale and has opened other doors in his film career.

In the spring, he went to Huntington, WV, and Atlanta for a part in “We Are Marshall,” the story of the 1970 plane crash that killed 75 members of the Marshall University football team. As in “Invincible,” LeFever was part of the football and locker room scenes in the Marshall movie, which he said was “really emotional.”

The Thundering Herd team was returning from Greenville, where they had been defeated by East Carolina, when the plane crashed. When the director learned that LeFever had played for ECU, he let him be the ECU player who made the definitive defensive play that clinched the Pirate victory.

In between movies, LeFever followed through on a connection from “Invincible” and flew to California to play the part of a bouncer in two television episodes, in “Alias” and “Invasion.” And he’s slated to play the part of yet another football player in a Disney movie that is scheduled to start filming in October.

But even as his acting credits pile up, LeFever’s real-time football aspirations haven’t died completely. His brother plays in the German Football League, and LeFever is still hoping to get a shot on one of the German team rosters.

For now, he’s starring on a big screen near you, with bone-jarring tackles that will remind some Pirate fans of LeFever’s best ECU days.

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02/23/2007 01:13:14 AM

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