6 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ...
... acting in a sports movie.
On Rob: Shirt by Banana Republic; Jeans by 7 For All Mankind
1. THERE'S A LOT OF PRESSURE.
"Playing a real person gave me a tremendous sense of responsibility. Ernie Davis, the first black Heisman winner, died in 1963 from leukemia at age 23. I felt I owed it to Ernie, his family and Syracuse to read or watch everything there is about him. I also spoke to Jim Brown on the phone, but I didn't really want to bother him. I mean, he's Jim Brown."
2. THE WEIGHTING IS THE HARDEST PART.
"I am 6'2'', 215, which was about Ernie's size, but the camera adds 15 pounds. So to avoid looking like a meathead onscreen I had to lose 30. It took some discipline, but the least I could do was give up red meat and sugar for a couple of months."
3. WE GO TO TRAINING CAMP TOO.
"We had two weeks of camp to get the look of the game right and to learn the plays. It was tricky because they played differently, so we watched crazy amounts of film, mostly archival video from Syracuse. I tried to nail Ernie's style, which was more finesse than power, and by the end we were running the exact offense Syracuse ran. Probably not as well, though."
4. YOU GOTTA HAVE SOME GAME.
"If an actor can play, it makes the director's job easier because he doesn't have to rely on stunt doubles for everything. I played in high school and for Amherst. Besides, if you can't play, you're gonna hear all sorts of trash on the set. We used some guys from major D1 programs."
5. THEY REALLY MEAN "ACTION."
"Game shoots were like two-a-days. They started us with rehearsals until we nailed it. Then, during actual filming, we did 15 takes. It's tough on the stunt doubles. They had banged-up knees, groin injuries and muscle tears. I had it easy—on the first day, they said straight up: 'You're not getting hit.' An injury to me would stall production and be costly. Plus, I was playing the best back ever; if I flinched, people had to miss."
6. THE PROPS ARE KEEPERS.
"I couldn't keep the Heisman, but I jacked a Syracuse letter jacket—blue with cream sleeves. I wanted the black jacket Dennis Quaid wears, but knowing Dennis, he probably snaked it for himself."
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