Since embarking on an acting career, Thomas Q. Jones, who retired in 2011 as one of the top 25 leading rushers in National Football League history, has landed role after role in Hollywood. Now, he has no plans of slowing down.
The 5’10” 212-pound handsome running back was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals seventh overall in the 2000 NFL Draft, and played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in addition to the New York Jets, Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs. He retired as a member of the 10,000 rushing yards club. In September 2019 he was nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
Jones got his acting break when he played Gabrielle Union’s often shirtless love interest in BET’s Being Mary Jane. He landed a small role in 2015’s blockbuster movie Straight Outta Compton and now can be seen as Comanche in Netflix’s Luke Cage.
“Before, I would get $50,000 bonus checks just for working out. That’s not an option now.”
“It was such a random thing,” Jones recalls. “I thought acting was cool, but I wasn’t committed. Then I started going on auditions and getting cast in things and realized I had a shot.”
In preparation for the film, A Violent Man, where Jones plays a mixed martial arts fighter, he underwent a three-week course under the instruction of another MMA legend, John Lewis. His objective wasn’t just for Jones to memorize Octagon choreography but to portray a seasoned, animalistic fighter onscreen. The process began with slow step-by-step walk-throughs that quickened session after session till a bang-bang, realtime fight sequence was established and Jones felt comfortable.
“It’s hard not to be a little intimidated with Chuck’s mug looking down the barrel at you,” says Lewis to MensHealth.com, who also has a supporting role in the film.
“Thomas is a top-level athlete and wants to do everything great. And when you come in as the new guy, facing someone you’ve never met before, you don’t know if he’s going to be overzealous, cool, not cool—you don’t know what to expect. You’re thinking, ‘What if I hit him by accident? Or too hard? What’s he going to do?’ Once you get past those things, then all the comfort comes in, and the trust is there and everything’s good.”
Jones puts it a slightly different way: “Chuck is big and strong and can overpower you. It’s like getting attacked by a f—king animal. It’s crazy.”
Besides seeing him in P-Valley’s upcoming Season 3, Jones is also the star, executive producer, and