Chris Evert has been in front of the camera since she was America’s Sweetheart in pigtails as a 16-year ingénue at the 1971 US Open, reaching the semifinals. From playing on the court to commentating in the booth – as she’s been doing for two weeks for ESPN at Wimbledon, with the US Open not far away – she is quite comfortable with cameras and microphones.
But that’s also the case when there’s a script and lines and “take after take after take.” Over the years, she’s been in a number of TV shows (such as CSI). Soon, her latest two films hit theatres nationwide. “Seven Days in Hell” is a “mockumentary” (emphasis on “mock”) about 2010’s marathon match at Wimbledon between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. And “Trainwreck” is a comedy starring Amy Schumer and directed by Judd Apatow (with LeBron James also in the film).
In “Seven Days in Hell” (debuts July 11 on HBO), Evert, plays a commentator (with ESPN’s John McEnroe) and had as much fun on the shoot as the movie appears in trailers. “(Executive producer) Andy Samberg kept throwing me lines, and they got funnier and funnier,” she says with a smile. “You’re going to laugh!”
The film takes many liberties with the truth as it played out on ESPN on Court 18, with 11 hours of tennis over three days. For example, a linesman perishes after being hit by a ball, and the Queen (who was not in attendance at Isner/Mahut, although she was at Wimbledon that day it began) is, well, shall we say very un-Queen-like.
“There’s nothing serious in this movie,” Evert says.
In “Trainwreck” (releasing July 17), she has a scene with James where there is an intervention for the character played by Bill Hader.
In both roles she plays herself. And that’s fine by Evert.
“I don’t want to be Meryl Streep,” she says. “When I see an athlete in a movie, I see the athlete. It’s not realistic. We’re too identified as ourselves.”
But playing herself in a comedy, that’s perfectly fine by the 18-time Major winner.
“Doing comedy is so much fun,” she says. “The lines are so great it’s hard to screw up.”