Who Should Play John Daly in the Upcoming Major Motion Biopic Film (After Jonah Hill)

John Daly
photo credit: HBO / Nick Wenger

Truth is stranger than fiction, the old saying goes. Rarely has this been more applicable than it likely will be when the John Daly biopic is produced and released.

Word recently came out that the famous (infamous?) PGA star and notorious Arkansas fan would get the Hollywood treatment. Things are in the early stages – no writer has even been hired to pen the script – but Daly’s larger-than-life persona seems to make a perfect fit for a feature film. Daly’s been a cultural phenomenon whose personality has transcended the sport of golf since he came on the national scene in the late 1980s and became a star in the 1990s all while maintaining his Dardanelle, Arkansas, flavor and honing it with the Razorbacks. Before Tiger Woods brought a new crowd in the late 90s, Daly brought the country boys out to the course.

The only known quantity for the Daly movie is who is currently tabbed to play him: Jonah Hill. And, buddy, is that a perfect choice. Hill has already played real-life sports figures, having starred in 2011’s “Moneyball” as Oakland Athletics assistant general manager Peter Brand, who was based off real-life Paul DePodesta. Hill has the comedic chops aplenty. Most famous for his role in “Superbad” and the “Jump Street” series, he’s been a staple in the comedy world for more than a decade. Besides his “Moneyball” role, Hill’s also shown a knack to get serious when needed, too, such as in “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.” Plus, do a quick Google search of Hill and take a look at the pictures. Tell me those outfits and that build don’t correspond to Daly.

Still, even perfect choices need quality backups. It had us wondering, if needed, who else could step in and play the chain-smoking, beer-swilling Bad Boy of Golf? You know, the man whose college golf coach encouraged him to take up smoking to lose weight, lost an estimated $55 million to gambling, has teed off of a Navy Seal’s mouth and who once played in a tournament after his fourth wife reportedly tried to stab him with a steak knife. So, in the spirit of Daly himself, let’s have some fun.

Potential Actors to Play John Daly

If time were no object:

Chris Farley

The world lost the Saturday Night Live and “Tommy Boy” star far too soon in large part because of his hard living. It’s easy to imagine some similarities between Farley’s and Daly’s personal lives, especially around the heavy drinking both engaged in. Farley was athletic, too, despite his size, much the same as Arkansas’ superfan.

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Jeff Bridges

Keep in mind, we’re talking about in some unknown universe where time doesn’t exist. Bridges from 20, 25 years ago would have been quite the fit. Imagine Jeffery Lebowski, but with less malaise.

Danny McBride

A movie about John Daly is almost definitely going to lack seriousness. And if you want no seriousness whatsoever, McBride is your guy. He’s already done the Southern thing and became a star in sports circles with his portrayal of Kenny Powers in “Eastbound and Down.” Considering he and Hill are close friends, it would be a shock to no one if McBride was tabbed to pen the screenplay, either.

Ralphie May

ESPN called him the celebrity face of Arkansas fandom in 2014. The late May, who was 450 pounds, had his few years of national appeal, but with no acting experience to speak of and a likely lack of athleticism, we have to call out our editor, Evin, for this proposal. Good job. Good effort, boss.

Casting the Biopic Supporting Roles

Frank Broyles

Let’s pretend for a second that this biopic is the usual: we go through Daly’s life from childhood to college-aged then on to his stint as a star in the 1990s then up through current-day. If it starts in the old days, Frank Broyles on-screen would be a distinct possibility. So, who to tab for the most influential Razorback of all-time?

Chris Cooper

Cooper is from Kansas City and is a Missouri graduate. The man knows this neck of the woods. At age 71, he wouldn’t be too old, quite, to portray Broyles as an athletic director in the 1980s. (Broyles turned 60 in 1984.) 

Brian Cox

Most commonly known to modern-day audiences as the face of “Succession,” the 76-year-old Scot has never had an issue playing in comedies. He’s a stage actor in his heart and a Shakespearian one. The transformation into an Arkansas legend would be far from a stretch.

Gary Sinise

Sinise has a reputation for playing no-nonsense characters on the screen. A scene in which Daly, who allegedly had issues skipping class, being called into Broyles’ office for a dressing down (while unrealistic) would work well with Sinise in the role.

Tiger Woods

You know Tiger Woods is going to be in it, even if it’s just a cameo. Woods’ first Open Championship was in 1995, the same year Daly won it. So here are the choices:

Andre Holland

The easiest choice in the world for this writer. Holland played an NBA agent in “High-Flying Bird” a few years ago and he’s young enough to be able to pull off the role of Woods, even if he’s a little aged out for 1995’s version.

Corey Hawkins

He was close to becoming a star when he was cast as the new Jack Bauer in “24: Legacy,” but that show never had the impact of its predecessor. He was great in last year’s “In the Heights,” too and can bring the necessary athleticism.

LaKeith Stanfield

“Get Out.” “Judas and the Black Messiah.” “Uncut Gems.” Stanfield has star power and if Woods was to be a big role – though why would it? – Stanfield is the man for the job.

Nick Faldo

If the movie focuses on Daly’s playing career, then more golfers are definitely needed. Nick Faldo was arguably the best of the 1990s before Woods’ arrival. 

Miles Teller

Want to get the old “War Dogs” gang back together? I don’t, particularly, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see Teller, whose star only continued to rise in the latest “Top Gun” movie, back with Hill on-screen. Hill’s edgy Daly versus Teller’s straight-laced Faldo? C’mon, it writes itself.

Regardless of who else stars, if the movie gets made, you know as well as I do that you’ll be there. Hopefully in a theater, because a life as large as Daly’s deserves as big of a treatment as possible.


Hear Daly talk about the biopic movie here:

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