Marshawn Lynch may not seem like the most obvious candidate to be cast in a raunchy comedy about queer high school girls starting a fight club. But according to Bottoms director Emma Seligman, the NFL star had a personal connection to the story.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Seligman revealed that she initially assumed Lynch would turn down the role of scene-stealing high school teacher Mr. G, and she was "so shocked that he even was considering it." Ultimately, however, he was drawn to the Bottoms script as a way to honor his queer sister, Marreesha Sapp-Lynch.
Marshawn Lynch in 'Bottoms'
"In his words, he said he wasn't amazing about it when Marreesha came out in high school and that he felt like this was the universe giving him a chance to right his wrongs," Seligman explained. "He made it seem like that was really what was interesting him the most about it."
Sapp-Lynch also told PEOPLE that her brother asked her for her input on the film, and she encouraged him to take the role in the first place. She added that Lynch didn't necessarily understand when she came out as a lesbian in high school, but he's since become her biggest cheerleader, helping her to plan her 2021 wedding and walking her down the aisle.
"From the beginning when he read the script, he said that I came to mind," Sapp-Lynch said. "I was like, 'Most definitely you should do it.' I just told him, 'It'll get you to understand, get more knowledge about the lesbian community.'"
Sapp-Lynch and her wife later visited the set of Bottoms, and Seligman said that Lynch was a "proud brother" who constantly talked about his sister. "He kept on being like, 'That's my sister!'" she recalled.
Lynch, of course, is best known for his football career, but the former running back and Super Bowl champ has also amassed an impressive acting resume, appearing in shows like Murderville and Westworld, in addition to his recent stint on Fox reality competition Stars on Mars. He stars in Bottoms alongside Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri, who play two queer high school outcasts who start a fight club as a way to meet girls.
Seligman added that she hopes Lynch's involvement might encourage people to seek out the film. "Marshawn in the movie," she added, "beyond him being a wonderful actor and improviser and a lovely human being, it is wild that it might be seen by so many more people who wouldn't have otherwise seen it."
Bottoms is in theaters now.