We all love an actor’s actor.
Revered by critics, adored by peers, yet rarely given the commercial/tent pole recognition they deserve, these performers don’t win roles on looks, but on talent; raw, emotionally chameleonic, meteoric talent. The sort you simply can’t teach.
Think Paul Giamatti, Sam Rockwell, Stanley Tucci, and Wayne Rooney.
Surprised at the latter name? Don’t be. The striker's been quietly honing his thespian skills for years now (did you really think he was doing all those ads for the money?) and he's just put those acting chops to good use once again, stealing scenes in a partnership advertisement between Manchester United and Independence Day: Resurgence.
Playing himself, Rooney, is called upon by Jeff Goldblum's computer scientist to clamber aboard a next-gen fighter plane and take to the skies for a battle against some extra-terrestrial nasties. Normally hesitant at being shunted on the wing, here Rooney shines, firing one liners faster than he can his weapons, eventually leading his loyal comrades Juan Mata, Daley Blind and Ashley Young to victory. Who the hell needs Will Smith anyway?
Though it's not the only film promo the Roonster has been lending his considerable acting powers to of late, after you might have seen him also propping up X-Men: Apocalypse's marketing last month.
Playing himself, Rooney is called upon by James McAvoy’s Professor X to find other mutants (he’s no looker but we admit that’s slightly harsh) in the United squad team who could potentially use their attributes on the field in helping to defeat Apocalypse, a centuries-old baddie played by Oscar Isaac.
And yes, the striker’s the best thing in it, out-acting indie darling Oscar Isaac with ease and putting the seasoned McAvoy to shame. His bigger name co-stars are just lucky the Englishman wasn’t in the main film itself.
Not that Rooney's just a blockbuster draw. In case you missed it at your local Picturehouse a few years ago, the striker starred in this short independent production a few years back called El Diablo, concerning a mysterious force which threatens to envelop Manchester United’s squad.
Playing himself, Rooney has to carry the emotional weight of his teammates, including the eternally furrow-browed Ryan Giggs, whose own attempts at appearing serious are blown out of the water by the younger and clearly more gifted Rooney. So much pathos; so much grit; listen to that delivery – it’s as if every word punches you in your very soul.
Then of course there was the other Manchester United and 20th Century Fox partnership the Scouser appeared in last year, highlighting his comedic flair in a feel-good promo for Deadpool.
Playing himself, Rooney steps up to score a penalty and receives a celebratory hug from Ryan Reynolds. Predictably of course, it was the Canadian who was immediately out of his league. He's simply no match for the captain's commanding presence on screen.
But now of course, thanks to the X-Men and now Independence Day sequel ads, the secret’s out, and it won’t be long before Hollywood beckons. With an acting range to match his passing range, if anyone can join fellow former Old Trafford great Eric Cantona in successfully making the transition from football to film it’s Rooney.
No wonder he chose to ply his trade at the Theatre of Dreams - this man belongs on the boards.