By Nicole Blades
It didn't cross my mind until I was sitting there waiting for comedian and actor Jimmy Fallon to join me in Fenway Park, just hours before the beginning of a three-game Yankees-Red Sox clash -- I was wearing a blue shirt with vertical stripes!They weren't quite pinstripes, but my shirt was just blue and stripey enough to make me a little bit self-conscious in Red Sox Nation.
Fallon, sporting an appropriate red BoSox hoodie, was in Boston along with co-star Drew Barrymore filming "Fever Pitch." The movie, a comedy directed by the Farrelly Brothers and loosely based on Nick Hornby's book of the same name, is about a man obsessed with the Red Sox and the woman caught in the middle.
Sitting along the first base line, staring at the Green Monster as workers meticulously prepped the Park for the game that evening, "Saturday Night Live" alumn Fallon talked about the Boston Red Sox, the city of fanatical followers and filming a movie in the middle of the most exciting part of the season.
1. You're a New Yorker starring in a movie about this fanatical Red Sox dude. How did you negotiate those dangerous waters? Pick a side already!
Jimmy Fallon: I grew up in Saugerties, upstate NY. I was never really serious with one team. I was into the Mets because my Dad worked at IBM where he got free Mets tickets, so I was into the Mets ... like two games a year. Then I got to "Saturday Night Live" where my boss (Lorne Michaels) has unbelievable New York Yankees tickets, so he invites us to the games. I'm going to all the games, so I might as well root for the team I'm gonna go sit with. I became a Yankees fan for a few years. But now, I gotta say, I'm really rooting for the Red Sox.
2. Since you've looked at life from both sides now, why are Red Sox fans more irrational than Yankee fans?
Well, Boston fans haven't won the World Series in 86 years. They play it off like they don't like the Yankees and all that. Kinda secretly they want to be the Yankees ... they want to win at least one. Gimme a break! It's like, I hate you because you're good, and when (the two teams) play, it's a great rivalry. It's the best rivalry right now in sports. It's not just a game; it's an event! It's so good that it juices the whole city up. Same thing in New York ... year round they wait for this.
3. How great was it to film "Fever Pitch" here in Fenway Park, especially during this solid run for the Red Sox?
It's been really cool. This is the first film that's being filmed during real games. These are real fans sitting next to you, not extras. And now it's the end of the season, it's electric. (Being here at Fenway Park) the spirit is so awesome. It's this tiny park, but it's intense. It's just so old and cool and the history of this place ... it's the perfect place to shoot the movie. I've spent the last two weeks here. I tried to go to every game I could. I sat in the Green Monstah, I sat next to the dugout, and next to the bleachers. Everyone knows the real fans are in the bleachers.4. Curse of the Bambino: fact or fiction?
Sad to say, that's a fact. This team's cursed, man. It's sick! The weirdest things happen. The worst was Buckner -- I'm sorry to even say it in here. He's a great player but it went through his legs. What? He's awesome and it just went through his legs? That doesn't happen! That is the worst example of the curse. It's shocking ... I mean you watch the tape and he doesn't even go to get it. He's just like, How does this happen? And you saw the fans, I mean, an out before they were going crazy and then all of a sudden it's like, "I'll have anothah beer. I'll have anotha round." Boston fans don't even get mad anymore ... they're just like, "(Looks calmly to the side) Do you believe this?" When I was doing research for this movie, I started to feel like these Boston fans. I mean, it ruins your day.
5. What kind of research did you do for this movie?
I got all the team films. Sporting News has a lot of good books on the Red Sox. The HBO show "Curse of the Bambino" is fantastic, and friends of mine who are fans. At "Saturday Night Live" there were a couple kids from Harvard who were great writers and were really, really into the Red Sox. They'd come into work with their dirty hats and looking physically sick. And they're like, "I can't talk about it." And then someone would go, "(whispers) Oh, the Red Sox lost last night." They were done. It was a wrap for them. And if they didn't play again that week, it just killed their whole week.
Wait is it a letter B thing (the curse)? Bucky Dent, Aaron Boone, Buckner -- that's double B -- Babe ... "Babe" the movie ...
Does Ben Affleck put in a cameo in "Fever Pitch"?
(Laughs at the mere notion) Nah. No, he doesn't.
6. What's you favorite sports movie?
"The Natural" is such a great sports movie. I remember in college, I was watching it with the baseball team from my school, and we're all sitting there watching it, having a couple 40s and you see grown, big dudes just weeping when Roy Hobbs is up at the plate. It's just sad and good. What a great movie!
I like, growing up in New York, "Pride of the Yankees." Gary Cooper was great in that movie. "Fear Strikes Out," the Jimmy Piersall story. "Rocky" ... you gotta love it. Every time I see "Rocky" I feel like putting a log over my shoulder and doing those sit-ups he was doing when he was getting ready to fight Drago. I guess they didn't have weights where he was; they had to use logs! (Laughs).
7. In this movie, Drew Barrymore plays your girlfriend and she's basically competing with your character's love of baseball. What advice would you give girlfriends with sports-nut boyfriends?
Try to enjoy the game as well 'cuz they're not going to get over it. These people really live and breathe by these games. It's sick. If the team wins, they win. If the team loses, they lose.
8. What have some of the highlights been so far, filming this movie in Boston?I have so many highlights it's insane, but ... a'right let me go through all them real fast (laughs). One is, we did a scene where Drew has to run across the field into my arms at home plate. It was after the game and we asked everyone to stay if they want to and everyone stayed. It's like 35,000 people here. I could not believe everyone stayed, and people were just cheering. It was so emotional and so good. I'll never forget it. It's such a great memory.
And then I got to go behind the Green Monstah and sign my name ... of course, I signed Ted Williams because the fans will be more satisfied with that than seeing my name -- no, I didn't. I couldn't disrespect my man.
The other thing is, I'm working with Drew Barrymore and the Farrelly Brothers, not a bad triple combo there. I'll take the triple combo please ... with a side of Fox movies behind it. Thank you. (Laughs). I've always wanted to do a Farrelly Brothers movie, so this is a dream come true. It couldn't be a better one because it's a sports movie and a romantic comedy and it's with Drew Barrymore who is exactly as lovable as you think she is.
9. Have you seen the crazy side of the Red Sox fans while you were here?
There's a dude who dresses up as a superhero and walks around with a Red Sox hardhat and goggles and a cape. He was pretty cool ... talked to him for a while. I got his number just in case I'm in any trouble, I could call him ... after his tenth beer. I'm sure he'd be a huge help. Then there's a guy with a huge stomach that painted the Red Sox logo on his stomach and he has an inflatable baseball on his head and he dances around. He's great. It's been pretty positive. No crazy lunatics. It's been all positive, good stuff ... just rooting for their team.
10. We've all heard your Boston accent, now that you're actually here has it been hard to keep (Bostonian "SNL" character) Sully contained?
I don't even do my Boston accent in this movie. I mean I'll say, Sawks. But not, Go Red Sawks, you f'n wicked ball playahs. Crank one ovah the Monstah. I gotta get a new f'n job, tired of workin' on the T. You know it's too ... it takes you out of the movie. It's like me co-starring with my accent. I hate that, it's like, "OK we get it, you can do accents. Great. Now can we do a movie, please? You're not gonna win an Oscar."
Being here, I got a lot of, "Hey, Jimmy, no more Nomah!" I've gotta work on my Chicago accent ... (tries it out) "I gotta full tank o' gas ..." I don't know, all I do is the Blues Brothers and throw a Nomar in there somewhere. But I like (Orlando) Cabrera. He's pretty awesome, he just doesn't have that Bostony thing with his name ... Cabrerah. Nah, Nomar is the greatest. So can we call Pokey Reese Nomah? Can we just give him the name?