BY BRIAN TRUITT
Gannett News Service
Three decades ago the Chicago Bears sang and boogied their way into America’s hearts with “Super Bowl Shuffle” rap video. Next year, some Green Bay Packers will up the pop-culture game by muscling onto the big screen.
Offensive linemen David Bakhtiari, Don Barclay, T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton, linebacker Clay Matthews and quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ brother Jordan make a cameo alongside actors and a cappella singers in the sequel “Pitch Perfect 2” (due May 15).
Bakhtiari, a “Pitch Perfect” superfan and the ringleader for this group of a cappella all-pros, isn’t quite ready to pronounce that their performance is better than that of those champion Bears, but “it was good enough to make the trailer, which was awesome,” says the California native, 23, who’s in his second year in the NFL.
Directed by Elizabeth Banks, the sequel to the 2012 popular musical comedy finds Beca (Anna Kendrick), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and the rest of the Barden Bellas competing with the best vocal groups in the world. As in the first movie, there’s an epic “riff-off” with lots of musical groups, including one with a bunch of 300-pound guys who usually showcase their talents at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field.
Matthews gets his sleeves ripped off and flexes his sizable biceps in the trailer, causing Fat Amy to reply, “I could be the ham in that man sandwich.”
The Packers worked out their own choreography, but Bakhtiari is secretive when it comes to what song they may be singing. “We have extremely good voices outside of the movie and we’ve got unbelievable footwork,” he says. “If I was a betting man, I would assume they’d try and implement that.”
He’s a longtime “Pitch Perfect” devotee and shared the film with his fellow linemen, who became equally enamored. (Matthews “probably won’t ever come out and say it, but he’s a closet fan,” says Bakhtiari.) They quote lines and play the soundtrack in the locker room, and have even been known to drive to practice lip-syncing to tracks by the Bellas.
During his rookie year, Bakhtiari often would tweet about “Pitch Perfect,” and even sent actress Alexis Knapp a message that the “o-line” wanted in on a sequel.
Producer Max Handelman, Banks’ husband, noticed his fandom and followed him on Twitter, and they scheduled the Packers to come down to Baton Rouge, La., for four days this past summer to film their scene.
“I was extremely happy that the one-in-a-million shot ended up working,” Bakhtiari says. “When we got there, it spiced some things up.”
Banks is a director who thrives on energy, she says, “and the enthusiasm and excitement the Packers brought to ‘Pitch Perfect’ was infectious.”
Ranked against his fellow Packers in their big scene, “looks-wise I’m on top,” Bakhtiari says. “Singing-wise, I’m probably middle of the pack. T.J. Lang, I’ve gotta give him props, he probably has the best voice. Josh, too, but he’s too shy to let it out. And all of us have some sweet moves.”
He found Banks to be a good coach on set. “She’s open and she’s good at getting what she wants out of individuals. The biggest thing is she’s passionate and she loves what she does.”
Does Bakhtiari have a favorite Bella, though?
“That’s a trap question,” he says with a chuckle. “I love them all, each one in their own way.”