Hoyt Richards, left, and Jon Huck in a scene from Dumbbells. (Photo: Courtesy Dumbbells the Movie)

Actor and screenwriter Hoyt Richards ’85 has followed an unusual path since leaving Princeton. After a chance encounter with a New York talent scout in his student days, the former Tiger football player started modeling and acting in commercials. He moved into modeling full time following graduation, appearing in the pages of major fashion magazines for more than a decade, and transitioned to acting in the late 1990s. Life in the movie business kindled an interest in writing, and this week, his first feature film, the R-rated comedy Dumbbells, will make its debut in theaters and on video-on-demand. 

The movie, co-written with Brian Drolet, stars Drolet as a former basketball phenom and personal trainer and Richards as a former model producing a reality TV show in a Los Angeles gym. Richards’ character, Jack Guy, was a star quarterback at Yale — he’s a bit pompous, Richards jokes, so the alma mater seemed to fit. Filled with locker-room humor and a handful of famous faces in supporting roles (Tom Arnold, Jaleel White, Fabio), Dumbbells pays homage to the dialogue-driven comedies of Richards’ teen years — movies like Stripes and Caddyshack. But it’s not all cameos and crass gags, Richards insists: “We wanted to give it some heart.”

As an athlete and model, Richards says that he has spent more than his share of time in gyms. He figured the setting would be fertile ground for comedy — not to mention an accessible and relatively inexpensive place to shoot a movie. He’s hopeful that the final product will find an audience and enable him to pursue more projects, either in comedy or in other genres. Success in the movie business requires a “dog-unwilling-to-let-go-of-the-bone mentality,” says Richards, who has spent the last four years working with Drolet to bring their idea from script to screen. “It’s always going to be very special to me,” he says.