Stephen A. Smith is so omnipresent and singular of an onscreen talent, it’s hard to believe he’s only been in two movies up to this point. His most recent was Almost Christmas from 2016, where he played himself. And then there was Chris Rock’s 2007 romantic comedy I Think I Love My Wife. In the interim, he’s kept busy by...doing just about everything else. Two hours on First Take daily, The Stephen A. Smith Show on radio, appearances on any other ESPN broadcast that’ll have him, a recurring role in General Hospital, things of that nature. Now, he’s about to participate in his first big-time Hollywood project to date.
On Thursday, Smith shared the trailer for Rumble, an animated monster wrestling movie that’s not set to come out until next January. He’s voicing a human commentator who’s not too much of a departure from the real Stephen A — maybe a little top-heavier with a more rigid jawline.
Questions abound, like why are we getting this trailer for a movie nearly a full year before its release, that’s already been relegated to the January dumping ground? Roman Reigns and Becky Lynch are choosing this for their next big foray into movies? What’s going on with Will Arnett these days? Is Stephen A. our next great American voice actor?
In recent years, he’s seen his image oscillate from being a mocked goof who spells the death of sports journalism to ironic appreciation to full-fledged standom for his sputtering, incredulous cadence. His onscreen persona, on down to passionate rebukes of the Cowboys to morose post-draft Knicks telecasts are all kayfabe, so a wrestling movie is a natural fit at this point. It remains to be seen if he can sell something without his ever-contorting face and eyes.
This isn’t his first foray into the movie-business this year, as the Mouse House already sent him on assignment to a deeply strange post-Oscars show with Maria Menounos. During the broadcast, he said that as soon as he found out about the hosting job — 48 hours beforehand — he proceeded to watch a startling 9 nominated movies over the next two days.
On the rooftop, between interviewing winners who hadn’t reached their afterparties yet, and also Spike Lee, Smith rattled off his Oscar takes (“I got it, I got it, Parasite was absolutely phenomenal, but I really thought Quentin Tarantino deserved it.”) He’s nothing if not committed to the highest level and should be welcomed into every arena of pop culture going forward.