Daniel Ezra Didn’t Know Much About Football Before ‘All American,’ but He Has Some Help

Based on Spencer Paysinger, ‘All American’ is a hit with Americans, but does Daniel Ezra play football? The British star makes it look easy.

Devan McGuinness - Author

Nov. 1 2021, Published 7:21 p.m. ET

Daniel as Spencer on 'All American'
Source: The CW

There are some stories that just stick and they’re so good (in a bad or a good way) that we see them made into television shows. That’s the case for the CW’s All American.

Inspired by the true-life story of former football star Spencer Paysinger, the series's star, Daniel Ezra, makes transforming into an athlete look easy, but does he play football? Here’s what we know.

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All American first premiered in 2018 and it’s become a surprise hit. While it’s inspired by a true-life story, the television show does take creative liberties and it’s not an exact true story. In the show, Daniel delivers a convincing performance of Spencer James, the character based on Spencer Paysinger.

Daniel Ezra on All American
Source: The CW
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Does Daniel Ezra play football though?

Much like medical dramas, sport-based television shows can be picked apart if they’re not close to real life. Football is more than just throwing and kicking around a weird-shaped ball, and that means the plays in the game on the television show have to be as realistic as possible.

Athleticism doesn’t come easy, and while it would be most ideal to hire an actor who is really skilled at football, that’s likely really hard to come by. So, producers and showrunners often go to the next best thing.

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Source: Instagram

In this case, it was Daniel Ezra, a British television star who has never played American football before. But he’s already athletically built and can fake-it-till-he-makes-it to a certain degree. According to an interview with Media Village, Daniel put in a lot of work before the show aired.

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“I came out early to do the pilot, so I trained pretty much every day,” he recalled. “They put me on a strict fitness regime and diet, too. I felt that slightly easy to do given I knew how to, and my dad is actually a fitness coach, but for the pilot, I was waking up about 4 a.m. to get to the gym and then head to the set.”

Daniel Ezra on All American on The CW
Source: The CW
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Does Daniel have a stunt double on ‘All American’?

The fact that football on television isn’t the same as football in a real, professional game helps Daniel's performance. Instead of playing strategically using skills and practice, Daniel’s football plays on the television show are all choreographed.

"The real stars of the show are the guys that design the football plays,” he said. “They are not just plays; they are also characters [on the show].” The chorographers on All American, just like we’d see in dance or fighting scenes in other movies and TV shows, mark every move, and it’s Daniel’s job to “dance” out the plays. And doing this helps keep the show and the football plays as accurate as possible.

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Source: Instagram

“Everyone wants the football to be as accurate as we possibly can” Daniel said, “so we spend a lot of time in the field.” It helps that Daniel also has a stunt double to take on the scenes that are tiresome and maybe a little more involved.

“I have an unbelievable stunt double that does half the plays for me,” Daniel said to Media Village. “So, I'll run some, he'll run some, and we make the best out of both.”

All American airs Mondays at 8 p.m. EST on the CW.

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