Ethan Hawke, Tony Sanneh, Tim Blake Nelson Play in NYFEST's Celebrity Soccer Game
Olympian Jazmine Fenlator and 'True Detective' producer Richard Brown kicked alongside soccer pros Claudio Reyna, Jimmy Conrad and Chris Armas on Saturday.
Stars and soccer pros united at the Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5 on Saturday for NYFEST's annual celebrity soccer game, which benefited NYFEST charity partners City Soccer in the Community and Claudio Reyna Foundation.
Claudio Reyna, Chris Armas and Jimmy Conrad -- with his GoPro camera in his hand -- played the field with Todd Hoffard, John Harkes, Avi Yehiel, Gilad Bloom, Thomas Rongen (also the star of Next Goal Wins, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival later that day), soccer juggler Eli Freeze, actor Brett Claywell, baseball pro Adam Greenberg, producer Houston King and Survivor Africa winner and Grassroot Soccer founder Ethan Zohn.
Ethan Hawke spontaneously added himself and wife Ryan Hawke to the lineup upon returning home to New York during a weekend off from filming in Toronto. "It’s so beautiful out here, and this new field, I feel like the winter is officially over today. It hasn’t felt like this for a long time," he told The Hollywood Reporter of the clear, sunny day, which his kids enjoyed by occasionally running onto the soccer field. Of his strategy, he joked, "I can’t bust out my full game -- I just don’t want to be that dominant! I don’t want to embarrass them; when they get beat by an actor, it hurts their self-esteem."
Tim Blake Nelson, who said he was happy to be bested by Reyna, joined the game at the request of Dylan Leiner, NYFEST co-founder and Sony Pictures Classics' executive VP, acquisitions and production, who also played in the game. "He heard I like soccer and play soccer, but I think he probably thought I was better than I am," said Nelson, who just locked picture on his upcoming film Anesthesia, starring Kristen Stewart. "I’m having a great time -- certainly getting to be on the field with people I’ve watched play on the national level for so many years is one of the high points of my year. It’s a really nice break from the editing room and the mixing stage." True Detective executive producer Richard Brown echoed, “Dylan twisted my leg, so to speak!”
While Tony Sanneh toned down his soccer skills -- "The strategy is we don’t want anyone to get hurt. We don’t want to look stupid, and we want to put a little of a show on for the crowd during the second half," he said during halftime -- Gale Harold had a different game plan in mind: "I’m going to try to not foul anyone, not get a lot of cramps and not embarrass myself too much. Last time I played in New York in one of these, John McEnroe scored a header over me!" Olympic bobsledder Jazmine Fenlator noted that it wasn't her sport and she felt "a little out of my element, but they’re making me feel welcome, and I’m excited to play in front of the kids and encourage them to stay active."
Earlier in the day, the annual event's industry showcase featured teams from Law and Order: SVU, Nickelodeon, YouTube, NBCU and A24 and more, with Sony Pictures Classics, Visit Films/M Tuck Media and Black Bear Pictures coming out victorious in the three levels of competition. John Oliver -- who was on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter -- played for the Last Week Tonight team in a bracket against teams from The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Comedy Central. The day also included a youth showcase, with games and skills clinics for kids led by coaches from the new New York City FC. THR was a media partner at the event.