Lance Broadway trades baseball diamond for silver screen

What began as an off-season pastime has become a career for former White Sox pitcher Lance Broadway. The actor’s silver screen debut will be supporting Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart in the upcoming action movie “Olympus has Fallen.”

Broadway said that the transition from baseball to acting happened very naturally. He began by enrolling in acting classes.

“I entered a class that was one mile from my house and fell in love with it, ended up taking two classes a week. It was just a few months later that my teacher at the time told me, ‘I believe in you. I see something here. I think you should take this a little more seriously.’ That got the ball rolling, so much so that I decided not to go back and play baseball,” Broadway said.

The career move might have surprised Broadways friends and fans, but it surprised Broadway more, who had always chosen sports over theater when he was younger.

“I’d always played sports. Sports were what I did,” he said. “And there was always a conflict between acting and sports, and of course, what’s a sports guy going to do? Do you want to deliver soliloquies onstage or strap up and play some football? As a 12-year-old kid, that choice was easy. I wanted to play football.”

In “Olympus has Fallen” Broadway plays Agent O’Neil, one of the secret service agents protecting the White House when an attack from a foreign enemy puts the president’s life in danger. Gerard Butler’s recently demoted Secret Service character Mike Banning is the only one with the know-how and guts to save the day.

While most new actors would go weak in the knees at the thought of working with stars like Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman, Broadway’s previous experience in Major League Baseball helped him keep a cool head and learn from the experience.

“Coming from baseball, walking into that big league locker room for the first time, I just wanted to see how the established guys did things, and I took that same approach on set,” he said. “I just wanted to sit back, relax, keep my mouth shut and learn as much as I could. Everyone was extremely warm to that. They allowed me to ask questions and to watch. It was a wonderful experience.”

Working with Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “Shooter”) was icing on the cake for Broadway, who said he was impressed by the director’s vision and control on set.

“He was great. He was collaborative. He was open to all new ideas. He led. You knew Antoine was running the show, but he did it in a way that any ideas were welcome, and we all felt a part of it. I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Broadway said.

Broadway revealed that Fuqua was a stickler for detail and that he and the other actors were allowed to speak with real-life experts to make their onscreen portrayals as accurate as possible.

“I really had to start asking questions and do some research on what it is to be a Secret Service agent. Thankfully, we had an ex-Secret Service agent on staff, and he really helped us out. That’s one thing Antoine makes a high priority. He wants authenticity,” Broadway said.

While “Olympus has Fallen” looks to be a good old-fashioned “Die Hard”-type action movie, Broadway believes that the themes it explores are more complex than that.

“I really don’t think I can pin it down to one message. I think the key to a good movie, a rich movie, is that you could watch it and get something completely different than I get,” he said. “I think that if you put on a movie and you have 30 people watching it, I’m hoping they take away a little something different from it all.”

While Broadway is proud of his role in “Olympus has Fallen” he’s not letting it go to his head. He is always working to hone his craft.

“I’m still trying to be the best actor I can be. I’m still trying to learn. I believe in classes, watching, doing anything that will make me a better actor. So I just continue to study and focus on that, so that whenever the next project comes I’ll be ready,” he said.

“Olympus has Fallen” hits theaters on March 22.