Muresan to take 'Giant' step into movie career Actor Crystal tabs Bullet for role in next project

March 10, 1997|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- You've seen him dancing on promotional spots for ESPN's "SportsCenter." And you've seen him pushing a fictitious "Gheorghe Muresan Cologne" in a hilarious Snickers ad.

But are you ready for Gheorghe Muresan, movie star?

Get ready, because the Bullets' 7-foot-7 center will join athletes such as Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal when he stars in a movie "My Giant" that will begin filming in Italy in June. The project has been talked about for nearly two years. Actor Billy Crystal broke the news to Muresan on Saturday that they are ready to move forward with the project.

The movie is about how a large man (Muresan) saves the life of Crystal's character. Crystal's character spends the rest of the movie attempting to pay back Muresan's character.

"When I do something," Muresan said, when asked about the movie, "I want to do the best I can."

Another Denzel Washington? Tom Cruise? Maybe not. But Crystal, who has had the idea in mind for several years, finally saw the person to play the "Giant" when he watched the 1993 NBA draft.

"When I saw him when he got drafted by the Bullets, and he put on his hat and said, 'I love this game' -- this was even before we had written the script," Crystal said. "It was an idea we had, and I said, 'There is a guy out here to do this.' "

Crystal first got in contact with Muresan about the idea nearly two years ago, but the project was only recently finalized.

"Last year, when we wrote the screenplay, we called him and met in Washington, and he thought it was a basketball movie," Crystal said. "It has nothing to do with that at all."

So, why not a Shawn Bradley instead of Muresan?

"He is a very honest, sweet, funny, charming and unusually vulnerable, large man," Crystal said. "He's a perfect combination for this part.

"There's certain people who have not acted, who have done movies and they were amazing," Crystal added. "You should see Dexter Gordon in a movie called 'Round Midnight.' Dexter is a great jazz musician, he never acted before and he was astounding, and he was nominated for best actor. I just think [Muresan's] got the same kind of naturalness that's very appealing. He will blow people away."

Asked if maybe Muresan was being typecast for a movie entitled "My Giant," Crystal laughed and said, "Maybe this time next year, they'll be looking for a Gheorghe Muresan type."

When told about Muresan's screen project, teammate Juwan Howard said: "You know why? Chicks dig him. Imagine what the movie's going to be like.

"I hope he keeps one thing in mind -- don't forget basketball, because we definitely need him. I don't want him to do a Brian Bosworth and retire to take up acting."

Asked whether he would be nervous acting, Muresan replied, "Why?" And with that, Crystal called out, "Gheorghe, we go, we go soon?" And the two Hollywood types were soon out the door.

Pub Date: 3/10/97

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