With Chris Hemsworth appearing to be on his way out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s a much bigger man willing to pick up the hammer — or anything that puts him opposite Iron Man.
“I would love to be in one of the Avengers movies,” Shaquille O’Neal tells EW. “I would like to kick Robert Downey Jr.’s ass.”
The basketball Hall of Famer/actor/rapper/NBA analyst/volunteer police officer/one-time Lyft driver is no stranger to superhero movies. More than 20 years ago, before the superhero craze began, the then-25-year-old Los Angeles Laker suited up for Steel. Based on the DC Comics character of the same name, the 1997 film was an airball with critics and viewers, but it was notable for the distinction of having one of the first black superheroes on the big screen.
“It was an awesome opportunity,” recalls O’Neal, who starred as the titular vigilante hero. “However, I’d like to redo it and get some of these 2018 special effects.”
But until he gets that chance and possibly a shot at Kazaam 2 (“If one of the studios begs me, then I’ll do it”), the current member of TNT’s Inside the NBA has landed a new job. He’s the new CFO of Carnival Cruise Line. No, O’Neal won’t be balancing the books — he’s actually the Chief Fun Officer. After taking his first trip on one of the company’s cruises, O’Neal went to his former boss Micky Arison, owner of Carnival and the Miami Heat, with the idea.
“Take advantage of all the opportunities,” he says is his No. 1 rule when it comes to having fun on a Carnival ship. “We’re living in tough times in America, and when you have fun and laugh, it releases the endorphins and relieves stress. I promise that when you get on one of these ships, you’re not going to want to get off.”
And now that’s he an official fun expert, what’s the pop culture project he’s most enjoyed being a part of? “Probably any of Adam Sandler’s movies,” says O’Neal, who has appeared in Jack and Jill, Grown Ups 2, and Blended. “When I did Grown Ups 2, you’ve got Adam, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade. I had to put my mindset in basketball mode and just say, ‘Okay, there’s Magic Johnson, there’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, there’s Larry Bird, there’s Michael Jordan. I belong here.'” (As long as he wasn’t treating any of them like Kobe Bryant).