While the Golden Knights continue to fight for their Hollywood ending, everything that’s transpired during this unprecedented, frankly unbelievable season feels ripped from any number of real-life sports movies, from “Hoosiers” to “Friday Night Lights” to the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team’s triumph in “Miracle.”
“The whole canon of sports stories, this is the thing. This is what they are,” screenwriter turned UNLV film professor Sean Clark says of the underdog tale. “Rarely do you have the story of the juggernaut that can’t be stopped.”
Should Hollywood come calling for the Golden Knights’ movie, here are some ideas for its stars:
Brad Pitt as George McPhee
Pitt knows how to play a general manager who brings together an out-of-nowhere success story, having portrayed the Oakland A’s Billy Beane in “Moneyball” despite looking nothing like him. Besides, considering that most of the cast would be covered in helmets, visors and bulky padding, the movie would need a little eye candy.
Michael Chiklis as Gerard Gallant
The actor and the coach are both physical, good-natured guys as well as men of few words. Even when they’re smiling, though, there’s that slightest crack in their veneer that reminds you, should they choose, they could snap you like a twig.
Anthony Hopkins as Bill Foley
Foley brought an NHL team to Las Vegas when few people outside the valley thought it could work. The Golden Knights’ owner is a dreamer, but a stubborn one. Add in the fact that he comes across as a relatable multimillionaire, and he’s a lot like Hopkins’ Dr. Robert Ford from “Westworld” — only with fewer murderous sex robots.
Tom Cruise as Marc-Andre Fleury
Like Fleury, Cruise is a little older and a little more famous than those surrounding him. But while the actor has had his problems with accents (see “Far and Away”), given his penchant for pushing his body to its limit, he’d be taking shots off his mask and doing Fleury-worthy splits in no time.
Jon Hamm as Deryk Engelland
Both found success late in their careers. When it comes time to deliver Engelland’s Vegas Strong speech during the home opener, Hamm wouldn’t leave a dry eye in the house. Plus, given Hamm’s absurd levels of testosterone, he could go from clean-shaven to full-on Engelland beard in the time it took you to read this sentence.
Chris Hemsworth as William Karlsson
Have you seen William Karlsson? Hand that man a hammer and a weaselly adopted brother and he’s Thor.
Bradley Cooper as James Neal
Multiple sources report that they’re both “damn sexy.”
Chadwick Boseman as Malcolm Subban
After playing Jackie Robinson (“42”), James Brown (“Get On Up”) and Thurgood Marshall (“Marshall”), the “Black Panther” star officially has first dibs on portraying every black celebrity.
Will Ferrell as Nate Schmidt
Schmidt is the most gregarious player on the team, and Ferrell hasn’t had a chance to showcase his sweet skating moves since 2007’s “Blades of Glory.”
Meryl Streep as Jonathan Marchessault
Let’s face it, there’s nothing Streep can’t do, and at this point she needs a challenge.
Barney as Chance
What, you don’t think a dinosaur could portray what is, for reasons that still aren’t entirely clear, supposed to be a Gila monster?
Celine Dion as Celine Dion
You try keeping Las Vegas’ most famous French Canadian out of a hockey movie. If nothing else, someone needs to sing the anthems. If “Titanic” and, most recently, “Deadpool 2” have taught us anything, it’s that Celine loves a movie soundtrack. Much like her heart, this team’s legacy will go on.
‘These were the castoffs’
Entering their inaugural season, the Golden Knights weren’t just underdogs, they were cobbled together out of other teams’ spare parts.
Screenwriter turned UNLV film professor Sean Clark says if he were writing the movie adaptation, “I’d probably make more of the fact that these weren’t rising stars, that these were castoffs.”
“One of the oldest, richest stories we have in dramatic literature is the revenge story,” says Clark, who doubles as the associate dean of the College of Fine Arts. “So usually it’s not just that they’re underdogs, it’s that they’ve been cast aside. That ‘you can’t make it,’ it’s been pushed in their face. We love a revenge story. … The great thing about sports is, it puts it into context. It takes the lethality out of it. And it’s something we can really get behind. ‘I’ve been there! I know exactly that feeling!’ “
The hot start by Las Vegas’ first major league sports franchise gave the city something to rally around in the days following the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. It’s a story like no other.
Clark picked up his son at T-Mobile Arena following the team’s final preseason game on Oct. 1. They drove past the Route 91 Harvest festival about 40 minutes before the shooting began.
“I’m ferociously proud of our city, and I think it can’t just be another sports movie,” he says of any potential film based on the Golden Knights’ run. “It’s gotta be the story of us, and the story of that shooting that just makes me angry to talk about, and how far down you can go.”