It’s not everyday that you see a group of professional football players dancing and singing along to Beyoncé – let alone on the big screen.
Six Green Bay Packers players made their Hollywood debut in Friday’s highly anticipated Pitch Perfect 2, and producer Max Handelman revealed how Twitter, his wife Elizabeth Banks and months of rehearsals made it all happen.
“We had heard online that there were a number of pro athletes who were big fans of Pitch Perfect,” Handelman told PEOPLE. “We came to learn that the primary fans were these Green Bay Packers.”
Offensive lineman for the Wisconsin football team, David Bakhtiari, 23, soon had a new Twitter follower – director and actress for the musical sequel, Banks.
“He subsequently direct messaged her and said, ‘We are massive fans and would love to do anything in the movie we could.’ Elizabeth said, ‘That’s really funny, you should talk to my husband who’s a huge football nerd.’ David and I started talking from there,” Handelman said.
The production duo knew they wanted to make the famed riff-off scene from the original even more of a statement the second time around. They tapped five additional Packers buddies – Linebacker Clay Matthews, offensive linemen T.J. Lang, Don Barclay, Josh Sitton and quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ younger brother Jordan – to practice the dance moves and nail Beyoncé’s “Bootylicious.”
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“I think it shocked everyone. That’s really them singing and dancing,” Handelman said.
“They learned their choreography literally the night before we shot. What was amazing about them, they kept saying to us, ‘Don’t worry. We’re taking this super seriously. We’re professional athletes. This is what we do. We want to look really good.’ ”
And the final product is as fun as a touchdown in overtime.
“I don’t think anyone expected them to be as good as they were until we saw them on the day,” Handelman said.
Pitch Perfect 2 hits theaters Friday.
Reporting by MICHELLE TAUBER