Let’s Pick Leonardo DiCaprio’s Volleyball Team

This past summer, Leonardo DiCaprio was hosting secret volleyball games in his backyard with other actors. He had everyone – from Jamie Foxx to Gerard Butler – bumping and spiking at his exclusive court. Which got me thinking, which other Hollywood actors should he be playing with? There must be plenty of talented players that the Titanic star left out. So, let’s build Leo a team, using only actors who’ve played volleyball-related roles in their career. C’mon, it’ll be fun.

Ben Stiller: Meet the Parents

In this clip, we catch a glimpse of Ben Stiller’s potential as a volleyball player. Although Owen Wilson shines early with some respectable left-handed spikes, it’s Stiller who channels his character’s irrepressible rage and turns it into a game-breaking attack. You can’t teach this type of aggression.

Stiller’s character, Gaylord Focker, breaks his cousin in-law’s nose with a vicious spike, which is just an impressive display of power.

Ashanti: John Tucker Must Die

Firstly, I’d just like to get something out of the way. I don’t agree that John Tucker should die. I think he’s kindly and misunderstood. Why should such an undeniably attractive and popular highschooler save himself for just one woman? In fact, I think celibacy on his part would be truly selfish.

Now that we’ve sorted that out, I’d like to introduce you to Ashanti. Don’t let the singer-songwriter fool you, she’s actually an incredible volleyball player.

In this clip, she claims that her first serve “slipped,” but when her second serve hit the exact same target (Arielle Kebbel’s face), I realized that she has remarkable accuracy. Plus, her behavior incited a riot in gym class, which in the mid-00s, was just about the coolest thing you could do.

Air BudAir Bud Spikes Back

Just because Air Bud is “technically” a dog, doesn’t mean he can’t be on the team. That would be discrimination, people. Plus, he’s got some serious volleyball skills. Though he can’t actually hit the ball, his defensive abilities – running, jumping, fetching – would make him a huge asset. Not to mention that it’s always fun to have a dog at social gatherings. This pups really got a nose for the ball!

Tom Cruise: Top Gun

The following scene is probably the most famous volleyball-related scene in pop culture history. Thusly, it’s worth some serious discussion.

  1. Why is Tom Cruise wearing jeans? I’ve never seen anyone play volleyball in jeans, for mostly practical reasons. a) Jeans don’t allow you the freedom and flexibility to make volleyball-type plays (ie. bending and diving) b. All of the sand would get stuck in your pants, which would be very uncomfortable and possibly rash-inducing c. Without going into detail, it would get sweaty. Very sweaty.
  2. Why is everyone taping their hands? They aren’t amateur boxers.
  3. According to my research, Tom Cruise is exactly 3’6″. It’s a minor miracle that he can hit the ball over the 8’0″ net, especially jumping out of the sand. That means either a) the net is too low b) CGI was crazy advanced in 1986 c) Tom Cruise is really just a baby wearing stilts d) they hired a really athletic stuntman. The answer, of course, is C). That’s why he’s on your team!
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Artwork by Neil Hamel

Sissy Spacek: Carrie

It would be foolish to say you don’t want Sissy Spacek on your team. Sure, in this clip, it seems like her only talent is absorbing the verbal attacks of her teammates (which, don’t get me wrong, can be a valuable role on a team, too).

But you need to think outside the box. It’s the whole evil, telekinetic powers thing that I’m hoping to tap into. If she can harbor just a bit of that otherworldly talent, there’s nobody that can beat our team. Not to mention that I want her on my team, you know, in case she has another one of those pigs-blood-induced meltdowns.

DEFINITELY NOT KRISTEN STEWART: Twilight

Kristen Stewart is terrible at volleyball, much like Sissy Spacek in Carrie. Both are timid, poorly coordinated, and make no effort to communicate with their teammates. The difference is that Stewart doesn’t have telekinetic powers. She just turns into a vampire (or whatever).

Kristen Stewart nails somebody in the head, much like Ashanti in John Tucker (Shouldn’t Necessarily) Die. The difference is that Stewart doesn’t do it on purpose, whereas Ashanti shows true accuracy and skill. Therefore, Kristen Stewart is not on the team. If she shows up, ask her nicely to leave.

Wilson the Volleyball: Castaway

Wilson showed incredible resilience on that island. He’s not the type of ball that’s going to deflate after a couple intense five-setters in the backyard. You also can’t play without a volleyball, so Wilson basically gets picked out of necessity.

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Helen Hunt: The Miracle Season

Helen Hunt is in the movie Castaway, which means she already has some off-screen chemistry with Wilson the Volleyball. In the movie, they never appear in a scene together, but rest assured that Helen and Tom Hanks had some incredible games of pepper on the set. But that’s not the only reason Hunt makes our list. She also played a super-inspiring volleyball coach in The Miracle Season, who guides her team to victory and helps the girls mature in real life. (I’ve never seen the movie, but I’m comfortable making this assertion.) She can be our coach!

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Anyway, I sincerely hope Leonardo DiCaprio sees this list. If he wants to hire me as a personal talent scout, I’m willing to put aside the fact that he didn’t invite me to play in his backyard this past summer.

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