One of Camille Kostek’s earliest ambitions was to become a New England Patriots cheerleader, which she did while still a college student. Another was to fall in love, which she did with her partner of five years, Rob Gronkowski—“Gronk” to fans, five-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Patriots for nine years, including three Super Bowl wins; and land the cover of a major magazine. So, at 28, she’s pretty much done it all, except….
“You’ve been in the movie theater and you think, oh that would be so cool to be on the big screen like that,” Kostek tells us, revealing a new item she just checked off her wishlist. “My name is now ‘Bombshell,’” she says of her character in the upcoming Ryan Reynolds sci-fi action comedy, Free Guy. Originally, her character was called “Beauty,” but not anymore. “It was quite the name to live up to when you hear castmates saying, ‘Good morning, Beauty. Good morning, Bombshell.”
In it, Reynolds plays Guy, a non-player character in a violent open-world video game. When, through a hidden mechanism, he becomes aware he’s in a game, he takes action to save the world from being shut down by developers. Kostek is cryptic about her role, revealing only, “I just love the bad guys in the movie. I’m very attracted to them.”
Although she has plenty of experience in front of the camera as a model and host, and even had a cameo in the Amy Schumer movie I Feel Pretty, Free Guy is her biggest role to date. “I grew up watching so many movies with Ryan in them. You almost get nervous to meet these idols because you hope they’re everything you expect. And he was everything and more,” she says of her co-star and producer, along with director Shawn Levy.
“Even though he’s starring in the movie, Ryan would give me notes. I’m still learning, so it was cool to be on set and have them be so patient with me. There’s an absolute art to acting.”
Kostek confessed to being a big fan of Reynolds’ wife, actor Blake Lively. And Reynolds likewise confessed that he was a huge fan of her boyfriend Rob Gronkowski, who happened to be in Boston where they shot the film in the spring and summer of 2019. Gronk and Kostek have a house in the area, so she was able to commute to the set instead of living out of a hotel.
The couple met at a Thanksgiving charity event in 2013. She got stuck waiting on the red carpet while Gronk gave an interview. “It was the first time I listened to him speak and saw him up close,” she recalls.
“I’d seen him on the roster and heard his name, but never really paid attention to him. I just knew he was a player on the team. It was very attractive to see how much love he had for the New England community and being around the kids and helping out. I thought, wow, he’s a really nice guy. That was it, after that night.”
Originally from Killingworth, Connecticut, Kostek studied dance for most of her life and was a cheerleader in high school as well as lacrosse varsity captain. While pursuing a degree in Communications at Eastern Connecticut State University, she tried out for the Patriots cheer squad her freshman and sophomore years. She was unceremoniously cut in the first round both times. In 2013, when she was a junior, things changed. For two years she lived out her dream as a member of the squad. And when she met Gronk and things got even dreamier.
She resigned from the squad after cheering her final game at Super Bowl LIV, and began hosting and modeling for brands like L’Oréal, Clarins, Victoria’s Secret and Reebok. In 2019, she landed the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, after being selected from an open casting call of 5,000. On it, she stands in profile, wearing a green string bikini that matches her eyes.
“I was in shock because I didn’t know it would come in my rookie year,” she recalls the moment she learned she had been selected. “I had to put myself out there and create my own casting submission video. I was excited to run to the newsstand and rip open that magazine to find my rookie spread. But the fact that I didn’t even have to open it to find myself, double whammy, rookie meets cover year!”
In case it isn’t clear, it was a crazy busy 2019. And luckily, Gronkowski was there to cheer her on, instead of the other way around for a change. “That was my NFL draft moment. So, it was cool to have him there and see what that was like for me,” she says, looking back on it.
When Free Guy finished production and the press tours for the magazine ended, the pair finally got to travel together without having to rush home for a game or conditioning or some appearance or another. “We really enjoy taking walks in nature and meditating, sometimes practice yoga together out in the yard. We do things that are really relaxing. Sometimes he draws me a Dead Sea salt bath. We just do a lot of things that allow us to unwind, relax and just enjoy the present moment.”
Which doesn’t mean remaining oblivious to the health and economic strife the country is facing. The two have been sourcing PPE for hospitals, schools and rehab facilities since March. In recent months they’ve shifted the focus to elementary schools.
“We’ve been doing charity events via Zoom, so we’re still full on for the people,” she enthuses. In some ways they’ve come full circle to that Thanksgiving event where they first met. Gronk’s charitable attitude is what first attracted him to her. She smiles, sussing it out, and decides, “There’s nothing better in life than helping someone out. That’s what you’re supposed to do.”