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By Kevin Gray

If Paul Wissel ’94 had any doubt that he was a convincing actor, an anonymous woman and a group of police officers confirmed his stage presence. When playing the role of a priest in the 1999 film Just the Ticket, starring Andy Garcia and Andie MacDowell, he happened to be walking on the street in costume.

Paul Wissel '94 (right) and Bruce Willis

Paul Wissel '94 (right) with Bruce Willis on set of the movie, Cop Out

“A woman approached and asked me to bless her baby,” Wissel says. “She had no idea I wasn’t a real priest. The same day, I walked past three cops and they each said, ‘Hi Father’.”

Wissel is owner and president of Basketball World of Suffield, Conn. He also works as an actor, basketball technical adviser, and sports consultant for film and television. A member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) since 1998, Wissel played an assistant basketball coach in the 2000 film Finding Forrester. He also helped cast the film’s prep school basketball players, assisted with player workouts, and consulted on the basketball portions of the film.

“Basketball keeps me very busy,” says Wissel. “My family also owns a large equestrian center, so I help out there when I have time. When I’m not in the office, on a basketball court, or at the equestrian center, I try to audition for a movie or commercial. Acting is still a ‘hobby’ for me at this point.”

Even so, Wissel fans will see him soon in The Winning Season, a movie starring Sam Rockwell and Emma Roberts that will have limited release on Sept. 3. His role? A basketball referee. It’s a part, of course, that comes very naturally to him.

In summer 2008, his “hobby” led to the opportunity to work with noted star Bruce Willis.

Wissel went to an open casting call in Boston hoping to read for a part in Surrogates, a film starring Willis. “I did not get to read, but casting called me back a few days later and asked if I wanted to be Bruce’s stand-in.”

The first day on the set, the famous actor asked Wissel his name.

“Hi … I’m Paul,” Wissel replied.

“Hi … I’m Bruce,” Willis added quickly.

“As if I didn’t know who he was,” Wissel laughs.

Wissel worked with Willis again, this time as the actor’s stand-in and photo double on the 2010 movie Cop Out. Because Willis’ head was shaved, so was Wissel’s.

“One day, Bruce and I were dressed in the same gray shirt, and we were both wearing our sunglasses,” Wissel recalls. “Bruce sat down beside me and called over the director of photography who was also bald and wearing a gray shirt and sunglasses. The paparazzi went crazy.”

Pictures of the three men sitting together ran in the New York Post, New York Daily News, Star magazine, and all over the Internet.

The combination of sport and art is a natural one for Wissel, who played on the Leopards’ men’s basketball team. Wissel, who graduated with a double major in business & economics and art, says there was much more to his experience than outstanding athletics.

“Lafayette College provided me the opportunity to play Division 1 basketball,” Wissel says. “But, Lafayette was the best choice for me because of its outstanding academic curriculum. There are so many great teachers, coaches, and administrators who all had a positive impact on me. They all showed a true care, concern and respect for each of their students.”

Basketball World ( was started in 1972 by Wissel’s father, Hal, a former Lafayette men’s basketball coach. Wissel, along with father and brother Scott, conducts basketball camps and clinics all over the world—including Spain, The Netherlands, and Sweden. Players ages ranges from youth to NBA levels. They also work with individuals. For example, the Wissels flew to Barcelona, Spain, in summer 2002 to work with NBA star Pau Gasol.

Wissel has also been an advance scout for various NBA teams such as the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and Atlanta Hawks over the past 15 years.

Read more about Wissel.

Categorized in: Alumni, Alumni Profiles, Alumni Success Stories, News and Features

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