Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vinnie Jones gives LA advice to Becks

Hollywood veteran Vinnie Jones had some words of wisdom for David Beckham on how to survive as a footballer in Tinseltown.

Dominic Fifield

Up on Sunset Boulevard the last English footballer to crack Hollywood reflected upon the frenzy that awaits. David Beckham comes to Tinseltown tomorrow and Vinnie Jones, his Harley-Davidson parked outside on the strip and the Union Jack motorcycle helmet safely stowed away, is ready to welcome the new arrival to the neighbourhood.

"This will go however they want it to, but if the team's struggling there's only one place people will point - at him - especially if he's on the red carpet every week with his missus. I'd tell him, 'Keep your head down and, for every win, go to a premiere.' That's a decent ratio."

The idea of Beckham, former England captain, European Cup winner and national icon, seeking advice from the man who made his name as the fearsome face of Wimbledon's Crazy Gang sits rather awkwardly, but Jones - midfield enforcer turned movie star - has grown to understand Los Angeles.

A few weeks ago he thrilled Quentin Tarantino by insisting upon doing his own stunts and allowing Michael Madsen to set him on fire, twice, in filming Hell Ride, due for release next year. The bone-shattering tackles at a soggy Plough Lane are a distant memory. Brad Pitt recently summoned him to his nearby mansion for a game of cards. If anyone could impart advice on the life that awaits the Beckhams, it is surely Jones.

Not that the new arrivals will be mixing in the same circles. Jones has been in more than 30 films over the last seven years but still spurns the spotlight in which the Beckhams thrive. The 32-year-old will be unveiled as an LA Galaxy player on Friday having signed a five-year contract to lure him from Real Madrid, but Hollywood is welcoming an A-lister.

"The hype is massive, but it's not an interest in football," said Jones. "It's in Posh and Becks. He's a megastar, a Mick Jagger or Bruce Willis. He's put himself in the frame with Tom Cruise - I thought it was manufactured until I saw all the pictures of Cruisey at the game in Madrid, and you tend to find the big-hitters stick together.

"There will be people going to the Galaxy who have never been to a football match in their lives and they won't give a shit whether he plays well, badly or whatever because they won't be watching the game. They'll be watching him. But how long will that last? Personally I think that after maybe six months people will start thinking, 'OK, we've done that now. What's Lindsay Lohan up to?'

"This is a cruel world as well. We were out here for the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels premiere and Patrick Swayze turned up. He was on the red carpet and people were like, 'Yeah, yeah, go away, has-been.' And he's a legend. People get dropped very quickly here. At the moment they think Beckham's the best thing since sliced bread, but if it doesn't go well on the pitch and [Galaxy's general manager Alexi] Lalas gets the hump with him, the whole of California will turn against him. Americans back Americans.

"What they've got to be careful of is over-saturating themselves in it all. For me, the worst thing about this town is having to go to a red carpet event. I could go to four every week but I do two a year. It's not my cup of tea but the Beckhams love all that. His missus loves that. They could go to three parties every night, and they'll be invited to them because they're the new kids on the block. But he can't do both: the football and that lifestyle.

"I think Posh persuaded him [to come to Los Angeles]. This is the biggest stage in the world for her - she loves a pout, it's part of her daily diet. She's a red carpet girl, same as Paris Hilton, and they love them. She'll change her hair, or he'll change his hair. She'll change her dress, and he'll wear her dress. It's about the publicity. This is her stage, not his. It's the Premiership here if you want to be famous. But it's the first or second division in terms of the football."

Then there is the prospect of Beckham keeping his place in the England side, given London is an 11-hour flight away.

"It'll burn him out," said Jones. "At four o'clock in the afternoon you can't hold your head up. He'll have three days to recover. He will not be able to do it. When you're playing that standard, you get hacked off with it. He's going to get frustrated. Honestly, I think he'll do this year, maybe a bit of the following year, and then go 'Bollocks to this' and pack it in. He could have a lovely lifestyle out here and his family around him."

That assessment is more plausible given that the Americans' attitude to stardom could actually offer the Beckhams some relative peace and quiet. In everyday life, movie icons mingle with the public on the streets of Los Angeles amid little fuss. Beckham, insisted Jones, would be able to "walk down Sunset Strip in his flip flops and shorts without any hassle unless there's a big story going on".

"In a way you can come here for a bit of obscurity too," he added. "You see everyone from Mike Tyson to George Clooney when you go out. We've had Claudia Schiffer and Pete Sampras round the house playing tennis. We've sold our two houses back in England and we'll buy here. I want to have a really good go at this career now but life over here's about balance. At the end of the day Sunset Boulevard is a tarmac road same as Watford High Street. You've got to learn how to live here. That's the rule."


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