David Beckham Turned Down Calvin Klein Modeling Gig, Said He Was ‘Too Popular’

David Beckham had the chance to star in an underwear campaign for Calvin Klein, but the soccer star turned it down.

The rationale: Beckham said he was just too popular in his home country to appear in the skimpy ads.

In the latest issue of Interview magazine, Calvin Klein recalled the 2006 incident to interviewer Marc Jacobs:

“I had wanted David Beckham, and we had discussions with David’s people and they said, ‘You can have him for the rest of the world, but you can’t have the U.K. because he’s too popular.’ I said, “We do business in the U.K. What am I supposed to do there? Use someone else?” So that was a no. They weren’t ready. So we got this other guy instead.”

The “other guy” turned out to be Freddie Ljundberg, a now-retired Swedish soccer player.

It could be that Beckham wasn’t used to the idea of non-models taking on fashion roles. In the interview with Klein, Marc Jacobs said the modeling world has seen a shift toward celebrities and athletes heading campaigns.

“I don’t know if there’s anybody on your radar today or if you follow who’s out there right now, but there aren’t really models on Vogue covers anymore, for instance,” Jacobs said.

Now, David Beckham is an international superstar, with a resume that extends far beyond the soccer field. He was recently offered a role in The Secret Service, a film adaptation of the popular graphic novel.

“Becks was asked by Colin Firth if he’d like to be in the movie but he is yet to fully commit,” a source told the Sun. “He loves movies and fancies appearing on the big screen – but just as a one-off, not a full-time career.”

David Beckham must have also had a change of heart when it comes to underwear modeling. A few years after turning down Calvin Klein, he appeared in underwear ads for Giorgio Armani, and he eventually developed his own Bodywear line for H&M.