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Movie Mania With Niles Paul: Week 2

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All NFL players are human beings. That means they enjoy things outside of their profession. They have hobbies and tastes and interests just like you and me.

For Redskins tight end Niles Paul, it's going to the movies.

As he rehabs and recovers from the ankle injury he sustained at the beginning of the preseason, he also has some more free time to head to the local theater and catch up on the latest flicks, his favorite pastime.

Each week I'll sit down with Paul and we'll converse about the most recent movies he's seen, debate about their strengths and weaknesses, needlessly scrutinize or praise actors and directors, analyze his Netflix queue, and, hopefully, find another window into Paul's personality.

In our second conversation, we discuss his "The Martian," space movies and "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl."

The Redskins Blog: I never asked you last week. What's your all-time favorite movie?

Niles Paul: My favorite all-time movie would be "Gladiator." I don't know. The story. Russell Crowe. Everything about it. It was just this man who was on top of the world, found himself a slave, and he went through hell but he won his freedom and he changed Rome forever, figuratively speaking. It just inspired me. He went through the worst of times and he still made it through. I like to apply that to my life sometimes.

How do you apply that? What connects you to that?

That there's going to be adversity and I'm going to find myself at the bottom at times in my life. But I could either accept it, and dwell in it, or I could just keep working and grinding and make my way back to where I'm supposed to be. That's not any more evident than now and what I need to do to get back on the field.

The director of "Gladiator" was Ridley Scott, who just directed "The Martian." You saw that, right?

Yep.

Not to compare them, but still a worthy movie?

The problem with movies that Ridley Scott makes is that they're never shorter than two hours. And with a movie like "Gladiator," it's one of those movies where there's so much fighting and so much action, that it keeps your attention.

"The Martian," which I thought was a wonderful movie – I enjoyed it – it's so long, that it's probably not for everyone, because at some point in time, it gets a little slow at moments. There's very little action to be honest. So it's hard to keep your audience focused unless you're a really big movie buff. I thought "The Martian" was a great movie, just like I thought "Gravity" was a great movie. But I know people that hated "Gravity" because they thought it was just boring. I feel like they would feel that same way about "The Martian." It's not one of those movies that's going to have you on the edge of your seat. It's one of those movies you really have to watch and concentrate and focus on.

What's funny about "The Martian" is that, unlike "Gravity" or "Interstellar," it wasn't concerned about the existential crisis of being in space alone. It was just about returning a man stranded on Mars.

Yeah, it was about the guy and his fight for survival, and us getting him back. That was pretty much it.

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Matt Damon was great in this, but he had a pretty rough round of publicity over the last few weeks.

He's had a pretty rough couple of weeks with his comments, and I'm not sure exactly if he's explained about what he's said. But you can't hold that against him as an actor. He did fully commit to "The Martian" and I enjoyed watching him. He provided just enough comedic relief to keep his viewers in tune with him. That was his job in the movie and he played it well.

I was also glad Jeff Daniels, who plays the head of NASA, wasn't a complete grouch again.

It's good to see actors step out into their normal mode.

Yeah, it was a very positive movie, too.

Going into the movie, I was like "He's dead, there's no way they're going to get him." Not to ruin anything, but I went in thinking this man is stuck on Mars, there's no way this man is still alive.

Do you enjoy big "space movies" in general?

I do. I love space movies that aren't poorly written. I think sometimes people do too much with space movies.

Do you have an example?

"Jupiter Ascending," with Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis. They tried to do entirely too much with the whole idea of space. I feel like they tried to go in a direction that viewers didn't plan for. It almost felt like a Marvel movie.

On completely different scale, you told me you watched "Me and Earl and The Dying Girl."

Yeah, I watched that On Demand.

It was another Young Adult movie but didn't have all the clichés of them.

I was watching it and this movie surprised me. I didn't think it was going to be that good. I didn't really know the actors names at all, but the lead actor [Thomas Mann], I thought he was hilarious. My favorite character was probably Earl [RJ Cyler]. He didn't say much, but when he did talk it was hilarious.

Those two characters were social pariahs in high school. Were you like that at all, or were you popular and outgoing?

I hate to say it, but I was the jock in high school and it was very easy for me. I was kind of sheltered by being the gifted athlete at my school [North High School, Omaha, Neb.]. So it was always easy for me to make friends.

A lot of these movies always focus on the outcast.

And in this movie, he was an outcast that was trying to find himself. But he was trying to hide. I think the girl helps him find himself throughout the story and helps him and Earl's friendship in the long run.

His mom forced him to be friends with her because she was diagnosed with cancer. Did your mom ever force you to make friends with someone?

No. My mom never forced me to make friends with anybody [laughing].

Thank god. 

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