What does the second chapter look like for athletes after they retire? For former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, two of the paths frequented by his brothers and sisters in sport — acting and business — seemed interesting, so he decided to try and pursue both.
On the business front, Harrison partnered with Champions + Legends to help promote their workout brand of CBD sports supplements to help athletes workout and shorten recovery time. Harrison says he was introduced to CBD products before he retired as a way for him to recover.
Uproxx Sports caught up with the former Steelers star in the midst of his second chapter. Harrison was filming in Atlanta — he’s in a supporting role in the appropriately-named upcoming Starz wrestling Drama Heels — and we discussed how football and acting are very similar, how Vin Diesel convinced him he should try acting, and why Marvel would have to create a new villain for Harrison, should they ever cast him.
When were you first introduced to CBD?
Well, I was actually introduced to CBD right before I retired. And back then, like, you know, you had to make sure you found something that was clean, pure, because if you got something that had too much of a high concentration of THC, then you’d test positive on a drug test. So that’s when I originally got introduced to it.
How’d you link up with Champions + Legends?
I met Champions + Legends almost a year and a half ago through the process and they were starting up a new company. So obviously I wanted to get involved with it and they wanted me to be involved with them. I started using the samples that they had before they started mass producing and this stuff worked. I had used different CBD stuff before — to be honest with you, it really didn’t work that well.
You’re doing acting now, what is that like?
I’m in a series right now, it’s called Heels. It’s actually going to be a new series that will be on Starz. So, I’m in Atlanta actually filming that right now. Acting has been something that I wanted to get into after seeing The Fast and Furious. And I’m like “I could do what Vin Diesel is doing.” So, that’s what made me really feel like I could do it. I mean the acting thing, I mean, I’ve been acting since I was a little kid. You know, everybody tell lies, so I just thought I was a little better at it than them (laughs).
You’ve been, from all accounts, a very structured person. So going into something with a little less structure, what were some of the adjustments to acting?
To be honest with you, acting is very structured as far as what it is you’re doing. Just learning from the people that have been doing it a while. It’s like playing football, you gotta do it over and over. I’m not having to try and reach real dramatic highs of trying to shed tears and everything like that. So I’m still more in the area of what I’m comfortable with right now as far as what I’ve done and, you know, my regular life. So it’s easier for me to get this role than it was to get another one where I would have to try and be like Denzel or something, you know?
Are the Denzel Washington roles something that appeal to you?
Yes, definitely. I won’t say all of his roles. But Training Day or something like that, you know what I’m saying? Honestly, I’d want something more geared towards like what The Rock would do, where most of his is just action. It’s not really anything that’s too drama where you gotta sit in all the emotions, bust tears and everything. I can cry, I can almost get, like, two, three tears out. I can do one for sure though.
If there’s a project and the casting director is like, “Okay, we gotta get James Harrison.” What is that role that you absolutely want front of the line for?
Like I said, anything that makes me look like I’m the hardest S.O.B around. And, it’s all The Rock roles, to be honest with you (laughs).
So if Justin Lin or anyone from The Fast And Furious called you?
I’m absolutely willing to be the villain. As long as I’m the most dominant villain that they’ve had on there so far, like, Thanos.
You brought up Thanos so I must ask. Is there a Marvel character you wanna play?
Mmm. They’d have to make up a totally new one.