He hadn’t mentioned his new side career to many people. But it wasn’t long before a couple of teammates came up to him at training camp looking a little puzzled.
They’d just seen a Home Hardware commercial in which two fully uniformed football players jostle a bit. Then sit on a weather-treated deck in a couple of Muskoka chairs and have a nice chat, still in full gear. One of the two looked rather familiar.
“They saw it and were like, ‘Were you on TV?'” Hasan Hazime says.
Why yes. Yes, he was.
The 27-year-old Hamilton Tiger-Cat defensive lineman is now following in the footsteps of retired Ticat Ray Mariuz who did some spots a few years back for Milk, Source For Sports, Nike and Campbell’s Soup. Branching out into the acting world.
You may have seen the result. If you haven’t, you almost certainly will since it seems to be on a rather heavy rotation. But when you do, you may have to look closely because his face isn’t visible for all that long.
“It was a lot of fun,” he says.
Last summer after an Achilles injury prematurely ended his season, he got a call from a friend of a friend. Apparently a production company was casting for a TV commercial and was looking for football players. Big ones, ideally.
“I fit the description,” he says.
Yeah, at 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, he does. So the defensive lineman decided to throw his helmet in the ring. After all, it’s something he’d always wanted to do, even though he’d never been on a stage in his life. Never in school. Never anywhere.
The audition process turned out to be somewhat simpler than he’d anticipated.
“They asked me if I played football. I said, ‘Yeah, here and there,'” he chuckles, before letting them know he played for the Tiger-Cats. “They looked at me confused, like, ‘Hamilton?‘”
Turns out the producer was a big CFL fan and a Toronto Argonaut season ticket holder. Not enough of a fan to recognize Hazime, mind you. Still, they chatted about Ricky Ray, the double blue and college ball. Then asked the potential star to get into a three-point stance, just to check his bona fides. That was it.
A couple hours later, he got a phone call telling him he was a professional actor.
The deck stain ad was filmed over six or seven hours at a rented house in Scarborough. Hazime made sure they knew he had an injury and was exceedingly careful not to exacerbate it during the more-physical parts. He followed the director’s instructions, learned a lot about how the industry works and actually developed a bit of a passion for the business.
He’s not going to be living on the money he made — scale union wages — but he says if he could get a few gigs, it would put some bucks in his pocket. He’d love it if that could happen.
“It’s just a start from here on out, I feel,” he says. “It’s a fun career. It’s tough. It’s really tough. But if more opportunities come up, I’d be more than happy.”
What about the most-important part, though? The critique. How’d he do?
Coach Kent Austin, have you seen it?
“No, but I’d love to,” he laughs. “Can he actually act?”
Perhaps Arnaud Gascon-Nadon can help answer that. He’s been Hazime’s roommate for two years. He knew about the job before it happened. He’s seen it multiple times now.
Does his buddy have any acting chops?
“He’s pretty good,” the Laval grad says.
Really? The defensive end is going to offer an unvarnished compliment and pass up the chance to chirp his teammate? That’s not the way things usually work in sports.
Oh, wait. Here it comes.
“It’s pretty good he doesn’t have to speak, y’know,” Gascon-Nadon adds. “If he had to speak, you don’t know where that would go.”
Who knows, maybe we’ll get some of that in the next one.