Vernon Davis Says 'a Lot' of NFL Players Reach Out for Acting Advice: 'I Try to Guide Them'

Former NFL player turned actor Vernon Davis' new movie The Ritual Killer releases in theaters and on demand March 10

NFL player turned actor Vernon Davis
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty

Vernon Davis has not played in the NFL since the 2019 season, but players around the league know they can go to him for advice on their careers after football — particularly if they want to go from the gridiron to the big screen.

While speaking with PEOPLE recently about his new film co-starring Morgan Freeman The Ritual Killer, Davis, 39, says "a lot of guys reach out to me about getting into acting."

"I get a lot of calls from players and people that I know about wanting to pursue the craft," Davis, who played 15 season in the NFL as a tight end, continues. "So I try to guide them as much as possible, try to give them the correct device."

"First thing I tell them is not to make the mistake that I made, which is thinking that you can take on a character without learning the craft," he adds, when asked what advice he might provide athletes looking to get into show business as a second act.

NFL player turned actor Vernon Davis
Brock Morse

Davis, who has appeared in films alongside the likes of John Malkovich, Bruce Willis and Frank Grillo in recent years, says he first believed "acting was just going out there and just acting" when he launched his Hollywood career ten years ago.

"You just have to know what the intentions are behind the story, behind the scenes, something you're going after. And that's what what I tell everyone who wants to get into this and say, 'Look, learn the craft first,' " he says, adding that it's worth learning "tools and techniques that you can use to be an exceptional character when the cameras are rolling."

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Now, years into his acting career, Davis knows what it takes to bring a character to life and took it upon himself to put in the extra work for The Ritual Killer. As the athlete-turned actor-producer studied the film's script, he realized he needed to take on his villain character's Zulu language and South African dialect, going so far as to work with a translator he met through Instagram and a dialect coach.

"Because when you're doing movies like this, they didn't expect me to have a dialect," the actor adds of his process. "They didn't expect me to know the language. It's something that you do on your own."

The Ritual Killer is in theaters and on demand March 10.

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