Blues on film

In-form striker Olivier Giroud has lent his voice to the new animated Spider-Man movie, but he his far from the first Blue to be seen, or heard, on the silver screen.

The striker is providing the voice for long-time villain the Green Goblin in the French version of Spider-Man: New Generation, which is released in December, making his acting debut in the cartoon alongside fellow footballer Presnel Kimpembe of Paris Saint-Germain.

Links between Chelsea and the film industry are nothing new, though, with ties going all the way back to the 1940s. That came courtesy of the legendary actor and director Richard Attenborough, who joined training at Chelsea to get in shape for his role as young gangster Pinkie in the film Brighton Rock.

That led to a close friendship with our star striker Tommy Lawton and a lifelong passion for the Blues, with Lord Attenborough going on to join the club’s board as a director and later becoming our Life President.

In turn, that led to him inviting some of the biggest names in Hollywood to join him at Stamford Bridge, introducing the likes of Steve McQueen and Raquel Welch to the excitement of matchday.

However, as well as actors being interested in Chelsea, plenty of players have made the leap in the other direction by trying their hand at acting during or after their football careers.

The most successful at that transition has probably been Vinnie Jones, who spent just over a season at Stamford Bridge in 1991 and 1992. After hanging up his boots, he took his hard-man image with him from the football pitch to the movie set, being given his big break by director Guy Ritchie in his crime comedy Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and the follow-up Snatch.

Jones wasn’t finished there, though, making the move to Hollywood, starting with the remake of Gone in 60 Seconds with Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie, and appearing in a number of big-budget movies since, including taking the role of Juggernaut in the X-Men series and Escape Plan alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

Probably the next most successful was Giroud’s fellow Frenchman and World Cup winner Frank Leboeuf. As well as several appearances on stage and screen in his homeland, the former defender took on a small role as a Swiss doctor in the Oscar-winning Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, before playing a French resistance leader in the Second World War thriller Allies.

One of Leboeuf’s former Chelsea team-mates Mario Melchiot has also made the move to Los Angeles to break into Hollywood, with the highlight of his fledgling acting career so far coming with a part in an indie retelling of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde last year, which won a total of 16 awards including best picture at no less than four film festivals. He also appeared alongside Jones in the Dolph Lundgren action movie Puncture Wounds in one of his earliest roles, in 2014.

Probably the first to make that switch from football to acting was Roy Bentley, captain of our first-ever title-winning side in 1955. Two years before that triumph, he played a football coach in the controversial film noir Cosh Boy, starring alongside Joan Collins and James Kenney.

The striker was known as something of a hard-man himself, regularly giving as good as he got with the often brutal defending of the era, which is just as well. Cosh Boy was one of the most violent films produced at the time, making it the first to ever be given the ‘X’ certificate rating in the UK and even being banned completely in Sweden.

More violent on-screen appearances include a very brief cameo by Blues legend Peter Osgood in the Football Factory, although he was just conducting the FA Cup draw, and former manager Carlo Ancelotti relishing the role of bullying bad guy as a player for the evil ‘Devils’ team, working his way through one injured substitute after another against opponents managed by a priest, in the 1984 Italian comedy Don Camillo.

Also over in Europe, Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas have both appeared in the long-running series of Spanish slapstick cop comedies Torrente, joining in the third and fourth instalments respectively.

Last but not least we come to the Coles. Joe had an acting role in Rikki Beadle Blair’s 2011 film KickOff, about the troubles of a new five-a-side team made up exclusively of gay players facing their more established, and slightly violent, rivals. Ashley, on the other hand, has never appeared as an actor, but was credited as executive producer on Dead Man Running, starring Danny Dyer, Tamer Hassan and Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson, in 2009.