I heard the Gotham Rogue football team in The Dark Knight Rises were billed as actual football players, but they were just actors. Is this true?
Uhm, YES they are actual NFL players from the Pittsburgh Steelers! They ARE NOT actors. They are the only reason I went to that movie..huge Steelers fan, hence my username. As can also be read on IMDb:
Batman 3,Dark Knight Rises Get Pro Football Players To Help Film Big Football Scene
Batman 3,Dark Knight Rises get pro football players to help film big football scene. According to Batman-news, the big "Batman 3: The Dark Knight Rises" production team has enlisted the help of pro football players Pittsburgh Steelers Qb Ben Roethlisberger,Hines Ward, Willie Colon, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Wallace, Heath Miller, Aaron Smith, Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu, James Farrior,and Casey Hampton to help out as extras in filming the big football scene that is currently filming this weekend. They will reportedly be joining the Gotham Rogues team,and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette were the first to break the story. In related news,actress Anne Hathaway finally showed up on set this week to film her iconic,action-filled Catwoman scenes,and they looked cool too as she was riding a sleek motorcycle through town.
Yes, the football players in that scene are to a large degree actually real football players from the Pittsburgh Steelers. The whole scene was filmed in Pittsburgh (as well as many other scenes of the movie) and they used about 10,000 real Pittsburghers as football fans and some of its players as football teams (the mayor of Pittsburgh himself is actually the kicker from Rapid City who opens the game). In fact it all played nice together in that one of the executive producers had contacts to the Pittsburgh Steelers and could thus get some of the team to play the football staff. Likewise did the real players in turn help to motivate the masses of extras, who were of course fans of the Steelers.
According to Jordan Goldberg's commentary from the movie's BluRay:
We worked with this company called Big Crowds that specialized in casting and wrangling large amounts of people for crowd scenes. But honestly we couldn't have pulled this off without the people of Pittsburgh. They really rallied together and just showed up in droves on the day...
...In order to make the action on the field come across as authentic and legit we needed to field two teams of 50 players, plus coaching staffs as well as cast 22 guys that could actually play football and orchestrate a kickoff. Mark Ellis who specialized in coordinating sports sequences for films assisted us in helping us put together two special teams squads...
...Our executive producer Thomas Tull is one of the owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers. So he was able to enlist a group of players to come and do cameos, guys like Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu and even former head coach Bill Cowher. Their presence on the sidelines that day really helped sell the reality of the moment while simultaneously engaging our crowd of extras who were ecstatic to see their hometown heroes take on the roles of the Gotham Rogues. Critical among these guys though was Hines Ward who we were lucky enough to get as our hero kick returner.
In addition to that, the football team's colors itself were designed after the colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers in order to accomodate to the shooting location:
To mitigate expenses, the decision was made that the Gotham Rogues should adapt to the environment we were shooting in. In this case, it was Heinz Field, so it was all about the black and gold.