Michael Phelps’ 2008 SNL Appearance Ruined His Once-Excellent Chances to Play Tarzan

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Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, is coming out of retirement this year to compete in the 2016 Rio Games. Phelps is currently prepping for what he says will be his final games, but he could have just as easily been preoccupied with appearances in movie premieres and late night interviews.

According to Vanity Fair writer Rich Cohen, influential Hollywood producer Jerry Weintraub, who passed away a year ago yesterday, wanted Phelps to play Tarzan in this year’s blockbuster adaptation, The Legend of Tarzan.

The info is mentioned in Cohen’s (cringe-worthy, outrage-inspiring) new Vanity Fair profile on Margot Robbie, who plays Jane in the film.

According to Cohen, who helped author Weintraub’s 2011 memoir, the grizzled producer would describe Phelps as “the new Johnny Weissmuller.” Weismuller played Tarzan in the classic films of the ‘30s and ‘40’s and was also a five-time Olympic gold swimmer.

However, according to Cohen, Weintraub’s opinion changed after Phelps hosted SNL in September of 2008. The writer said that Weintraub’s mood went “from excited to perturbed” as Phelps delivered his monologue.

Cohen wrote, “Two minutes in, Jerry turned to his assistant and shouted, ‘This isn’t Tarzan! This isn’t Johnny Weissmuller! He’s a goon! Why didn’t anyone tell me he’s a goon? Turn it off. Goddammit, turn it off.’”

To Phelps’ credit, Weintraub’s quote seems to capture what most critics think about The Legend of Tarzan so far.

Watch Phelps’ infamous monologue here and catch the swimmer doing what he does best during the Rio Olympic games starting on Friday, Aug. 5.