50 More Sports Movie Facts That Will Blow Your Mind
Think you know everything about your favorite sports movies? Think again. You probably don't know everything about any one thing, let alone an entire subgenre of film.
For every movie made there's another movie's worth of deleted scenes, plot changes, casting decisions and all the additional odds and ends that go into making it happen.
Awhile back I brought you 50 Sports Movie Facts That Will Blow Your Mind. Today I'm bringing you 50 more of the aforementioned mind-blowing factoids.
In Moneyball, the character of Billy Beane, played by actor Brad Pitt, is portrayed as a sad, lonely divorced dude. But in reality, by that time he had actually remarried.
There were scenes shot with a woman who played his second wife, but none of them made the final cut. Yet, Pitt is seen wearing a wedding ring throughout the film.
The scenes featuring Beane's second wife are available in the DVD/Blu-ray extras.
49. Million Dollar Baby
Hilary Swank took method acting a little too far while filming Million Dollar Baby. At some point during production, the actress contracted a bacterial infection from a blister developed during training.
Believing the the injury wasn't in her character, she kept it from director/co-star Clint Eastwood. Eventually it became so serious that Swank required a week off for treatment and rest.
Although, it could have been worse. Had the infection not been caught when it was, Swank could have ended up hospitalized for as much as three weeks to recover.
48. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
If you haven't watched the audio commentary on the Talladega Nights DVD, you're definitely missing out—it rivals the actual film in hilarity.
It's a masterful performance of improvisational comedy, consisting of hilarious and mostly untrue information about the movie.
47. Major League II
Everyone knows the Major League movies focus on the Cleveland Indians franchise, but when Major League II was set to film, the team was in a bit of a transition. They had moved out of Cleveland Municipal Stadium already, although Jacobs Field wasn't quite completed.
So much like the first movie, which was shot at Milwaukee County Stadium, the sequel wasn't shot in Cleveland at all. Instead it was filmed at Camden Yards in Baltimore, which is where the Orioles call home to this day.
46. Jerry Maguire
At the time Jerry Maguire was released in 1996, there was no movie star in the world bigger than Tom Cruise. It was Cruise's fifth consecutive film to gross over $100 million at the box office, a new record.
The project took so long to get off the ground that it's lucky he landed in the part at all. The role was originally written for Tom Hanks, who was unable to commit due to a scheduling conflict.
Also considered to play Jerry Maguire? John Travolta. I know he wasn't as weird then as he is now, but that just sounds too weird for words.
Morgan Freeman, who played Nelson Mandela in Invictus, prepared for the role by spending countless hours watching and listening to him speak. Freeman said at the time that he didn't want to act like him, he wanted to be him.
And it was definitely time well spent. Freeman had mastered the part to such a degree that Mandela's personal assistant asked him to stop talking like his boss when they weren't filming so that he could tell the difference between the two.
A well-known nice guy, actor Kurt Russell, who played American Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks in Miracle, took a pay cut so nearly 1,000 extras could have a hot meal during filming, rather than a bagged lunch.
43. A League of Their Own
Tom Hanks gained just over 30 pounds to play the role of Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own. He gave a shout out to Dairy Queen for helping him to achieve that goal, which I'm sure they really appreciated.
That being said, I'm not sure how necessary to the story that weight gain really was. Dugan is an out-of-work alcoholic, but there are plenty of rail-thin boozehounds out there. Whatever though, obviously it worked.
42. Big Fan
In Big Fan, with the exception of just one, every football player referenced by the characters within the movie was a real NFL player active at the time of filming.
The only one that wasn't real was that of New York Giants star linebacker Quantrell Bishop, the character involved in the violent assault depicted in the film.
No surprise that a real player didn't want his name associated with all that. Although, Pacman Jones would've been the obvious name, had they gone in that direction.
The producers of Seabiscuit must have put out quite the equine casting call prior to filming, because there were over 40 different horses featured throughout the film.
In fact, there were 10 different horses that played Seabiscuit alone from beginning to end. I guess horse labor laws are even more strict than child labor laws.
Please don't freak out, that was just a joke. Obviously child labor is no laughing matter, unless you're some kind of maniacal textile villain from the 1920s.
40. Rocky II
To train for the film, Sylvester Stallone really pushed himself to the limit physically. Shortly before Rocky II's final fight scene, he was bench pressing 220 pounds; the weight caused a painful tear in his right pectoral muscle.
Because of the timing of the injury, the scene couldn't be pushed back long enough to allow Stallone to heal. So the scene was shot with the film's star still very seriously injured and in a lot of pain.
39. Field of Dreams
Notoriously private author J.D. Salinger was reportedly very displeased about the fictional portrayal of himself in W.P. Kinsella's novel Shoeless Joe, which is the book Field of Dreams was based upon.
The lawyer of the late author made it clear that Salinger would be "unhappy if [the story] were transferred to other media." Facing what seemed to be a vague threat of legal action, the character Terrance Mann was created to replace any mention of the litigious Salinger.
Cindy Morgan, who played lovely Lacey Underall, didn't want to appear topless in Caddyshack and spoke to director Harold Ramis about changing the scene.
While Ramis was willing to work with her on the change, the producer told her she'd never work in Hollywood again if she didn't relent. Which she then felt compelled to do.
Morgan was also nervous about a love scene in the movie, which Ramis helped solve by ordering a closed set and asking all the cast and crew to take their shirts off to make her feel more comfortable.
She has said the experience with the producer was unsettling enough that she didn't even want to work again for awhile after filming had finished.
37. The Mighty Ducks
In The Mighty Ducks, producers got a little lazy with some details. For instance, the Ducks and the Hawks are the only teams in the league that have the kids' names on their jerseys. The rest of the league only has numbers.
Jerseys customized with names would have been an added expense, but you'd think it would be a relatively minor one in the budget of a major movie.
36. Eight Men out
In Eight Men Out, the trial of the White Sox players, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, for their roles in the notorious Black Sox betting scandal seems to play out between the 1919 and 1920 baseball seasons, neatly finishing up prior to the next season.
In reality, the wheels of justice turn much slower. The trial didn't even begin until 1921, finally wrapping up in August of that year.
A reminder that the real-life story of Rudy Ruettiger isn't exactly what played out in the movie Rudy is the fact that his naysaying brother, Frank, doesn't exist outside the film.
Apparently Frank represented all the people who told Rudy he couldn't do it, rolled into one person. Which is crazy, given how many other people in the movie tell him he couldn't do it.
I'm not sure how that kid even got out of bed in the morning.
34. The Hurricane
In The Hurricane, which stars Denzel Washington, there is a photo of Malcolm X hanging in Rubin Carter's jail cell.
The photo isn't actually Malcolm X though, but rather Denzel Washington playing him in the 1992 film Malcolm X.
33. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Because we're a country of uptight prudes, apparently, the tagline for the U.S. release of Dodgeball was: "Grab life by the ball."
Overseas in the UK and Australia, among other countries, the line was changed to the obviously superior line: "Grab life by the balls."
I think Americans could've handled the extra "s."
32. Varsity Blues
In Varsity Blues, Johnny Moxon wears the No. 4 jersey for a very particular reason. It's a tribute to Packers great Brett Favre, who was James Van Der Beek's favorite football player.
And if you thought that West Canaan fight song played at the pep rally sounded a little familiar, there's also a reason for that! It's actually the Texas A&M War Hymn.
31. Raging Bull
Robert De Niro's physical transformation for the Martin Scorsese classic Raging Bull is one of the most jarring and drastic in movie history.
At one point, the director was so stunned by De Niro's appearance after his weight gain that he temporarily shut down production.
The film had already shut down for just four months in between the boxing portion and his later life, allowing De Niro time to gain 60 pounds.
30. The Karate Kid
Actor Ralph Macchio played the lead role of Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid. At the time, he didn't look a day over 15, but he was actually 22 years old.
Macchio looked so young that most of the cast didn't even believe him when he was asked about his age. Which makes total sense—I wouldn't have believed him either.
Invincible was an immediate hit with studio executives who loved the idea of combining a timeless Rudy-esque underdog story with the popularity of the NFL.
Unlike Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday, which wasn't able to use any of the team names, Invincible received the full blessing of the NFL and was welcomed in Philadelphia with open arms.
Many former Eagles gave Disney permission to use their names for the production, and the team allowed its fight song to be used in the film.
Although it was still pretty well-received, Any Given Sunday really suffered because of the fictionalization of the league in the movie.
28. Bring It on
In Bring It On, the character Isis, who is played by actress Gabrielle Union, is a secondary character that doesn't get much screen time outside the group scenes with the Clover cheerleaders. But the part was originally a bit more substantive.
Though they didn't make the film's final cut, the trailer showed additional scenes from Isis' personal life, including one with her and a boyfriend. If that stuff was important enough to find its way into the trailer, there must have been a lot of Union left on the cutting room floor.
In Kingpin, the scene in which Ernie McCracken bowled three strikes in a row isn't specially edited. Comedian Bill Murray really did bowl three strikes in a row, and the reaction from the crowd was completely genuine.
Co-star Woody Harrelson was not quite as naturally talented as Murray. The Farrelly brothers said Harrelson was an atrocious bowler and didn't bowl three strikes the entire time they were filming—one or two at the most.
Gene Hackman won critical acclaim for his portrayal of coach Norman Dale in the beloved classic Hoosiers, but he wasn't the first choice to play the role. Producers originally tapped the legendary Jack Nicholson, who had an exceptionally busy schedule at the time.
Had they wanted/been willing to wait a year to make the film, Nicholson would have committed to the project. After it was decided to move forward with production, they refocused on casting the role, ultimately landing on Hackman.
25. Happy Gilmore
There's a deleted scene in Happy Gilmore in which Happy gets retribution on Hal the orderly, who has been mistreating his beloved grandmother, by throwing him out the window.
That's not surprising at all, given that back in Happy's hockey-playing days, he was the only guy ever to take off his skate and try to stab somebody.
The running time of BASEketball is 108 minutes. In the movie the word "dude" is spoken a total of 98 times, 21 of which were during an argument between Coop and Remer that consisted mostly of them repeating the word back to each other with different inflections.
Even though some of the dude-usage was condensed, that averages out to a "dude" every 1.1 minute. That's a whole lotta dudes.
23. We Are Marshall
Movie producers have a number of tricks available to fill up empty seats in stadiums for sports movies, and they employed pretty much all of them in We Are Marshall.
The stadium scenes have a mix of actual human extras, CGI extras and, of course, blow-up dummies. I'm not sure how the dummies were to work with, but I bet they all looked surprised.
It's actually pretty easy to spot the difference in this clip, particularly in the first and final seconds.
22. Cinderella Man
The fighting action in Cinderella Man was very real and Russell Crowe, who played the lead role of Jim Braddock, was really in shape for it. He lost more than 50 pounds off his usually full figure for the film.
Crowe also took some serious blows over the course of filming. He suffered several concussions, a few cracked teeth and a dislocated shoulder that delayed filming for nearly two months.
21. Friday Night Lights
Retired wide receiver Roy Williams, who played for the Dallas Cowboys at the time, had a cameo in Friday Night Lights as an assistant coach for Odessa's rival team.
Williams played for Permian High School, which is the real-life school at which the film was set.
20. The Bad News Bears
In The Bad News Bears, coach Morris Buttermaker, played by acting legend Walter Matthau, is essentially a foul-mouthed boozehound who, as it turns out, has a heart of gold. Well…maybe silver or bronze.
Buttermaker is more often than not seen with beer in his hand, but he doesn't seem to have any brand loyalty. He's seen drinking Budweiser, Miller High Life, Schlitz "Kingers," Pabst Blue Ribbon and original Coors.
The only brand that appears more than once is Bud. Pabst Blue Ribbon and Schlitz though? I guess coach Buttermaker was the original hipster.
19. The Fighter
The real-life Dicky Eklund was extremely unhappy with how his mother and sisters were portrayed in The Fighter—the women, themselves, weren't particularly pleased either.
Eklund reportedly screamed at Christian Bale after their first screening and Beaver Eklund, whoever that is, walked out in protest. Despite their misgivings, nothing was changed.
Speaking of the sisters! One of them was played by Kate O'Brien, the sister of funny man Conan O'Brien. Maybe she can explain what an "MTV girl" is.
18. Bull Durham
In Bull Durham, Crash Davis, played by Kevin Costner, makes a reference to the assassination of late President John F. Kennedy. Crash says that he believes Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
Three years later, Coster starred in Oliver Stone's JFK. He played Jim Garrison, who vehemently believes that Oswald didn't act alone.
In Semi-Pro Jackie Moon, played by comedian Will Ferrell, boasts that he has never vomited in his entire life. Not even as a baby.
Maybe that was just wishful thinking on the part of Ferrell, who suffered from pyloric stenosis as a baby, which causes excessive vomiting.
Ferrel actually has a scar on his upper right abdomen from the surgery required to treat the condition.
16. Major League
Although they got it right in the end, Major League was almost an entirely different movie. The original cut featured an ending in which not-so-evil owner Rachel Phelps reveals her nastiness was simply her attempt to fire the team up and prevent bankruptcy.
It didn't test well with audiences and was ultimately changed, with the part about relocating the team to Miami added in to give Phelps motive.
The relationship between Jake Taylor and Lynn Wells is the emotional subplot in the film, which almost culminated in a big, white wedding. There was actually a wedding scene shot, but producers decided to scrap it because it overemphasised their romance.
15. D2: The Mighty Ducks
Early in D2: The Mighty Ducks, Team USA is completely demolished by Team Iceland at the Goodwill Games. Coach Gordon Bombay, played by Emilio Estevez, punishes the team by making them stick around long after the game to do sprints.
That scene was more based in reality than the rest of the movie. After Team USA tied with Norway in an exhibition game during the 1980 Olympics, American coach Herb Brooks made his boys stay so late that the rink manager turned the lights off on them.
14. All the Right Moves
All the Right Moves is set in a Western Pennsylvania town called Ampipe, which is a steel town built up around the American Pipe and Steel Company; both of which were fictional. They were based on the town of Ambridge and the nearby American Bridge Company.
The director wanted stars Lea Thompson and Tom Cruise to go undercover as high school students to get a feel for their parts. Cruise's cover was blown the very first day, but Thompson lasted nearly a full week. She was asked out by a number of boys and even got caught smoking.
13. Field of Dreams
"If you build it, they will come," is perhaps one of the most famous lines in American movie history. The only problem? It's not really the line.
"If you build it, he will come," is the actual line. Apparently it's one of the most misquoted lines ever—in fact, Google only recommends the wrong version in a search.
12. Million Dollar Baby
Sandra Bullock has experienced a serious resurgence in her career over the last two years, but it may have started a bit earlier had she been able to play the lead role of Maggie in Million Dollar Baby, as was originally intended.
By the time the project found a director and got off the ground, Bullock had already committed to Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous. That sequel may have been a winner at the box office, but it was an absolute bust with critics.
11. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
The producers of Talladega Nights had to have known they were onto something the first time the characters of Cal, Ricky and Girard were introduced to the American public.
At the 2005 UAW-Ford 500, the crowd cheered wildly for Cal and Ricky, who were introduced first. When Girard was introduced, the cheers instantly turned to boos without any character context.
10. The Hustler
There's a scene in The Hustler which takes place at the Kentucky Derby. During that scene, one of the horses mentioned by name is Stroke of Luck.
"Stroke of Luck" was actually one of the other titles considered for the film, but it was shelved by the studio over concern it would "create negative connotations with prostitution."
Yeah…because "The Hustler" doesn't do that at all. This was definitely a case of a bunch of dirty old men overthinking things.
Ironically, The Hustler was the first mainstream Hollywood film to use the word "bastard."
9. Jerry Maguire
Co-stars Tom Cruise and Bonnie Hunt first worked together on the movie Rain Man, which was released in 1988, roughly eight years prior to filming Jerry Maguire.
Apparently she didn't make much of an impression on him, because he didn't remember her at all. Hunt thought he was just joking at first, but it turned out…he wasn't.
Good lord, Tom Cruise is so awkward sometimes.
8. The Blind Side
The Blind Side is a perfect example of the coaching carousel in college football. Michael Oher's first year at Ole Miss was 2005 and the coaches that recruited him in the film were as follows:
•Phil Fulmer of Tennessee: Gone since 2008, now out of football
•Lou Holtz of South Carolina: Gone since 2004, now at ESPN
•Houston Nutt of Arkansas: Gone since 2007, coached Ole Miss until 2011, now out of football
•Nick Saban of LSU: Gone since 2004, coached the Dolphins until 2006, now at Alabama (Or perhaps Texas by the time this is published?)
•Ed Orgeron of Ole Miss: Gone since 2007, recently resigned after a stint as interim head coach at USC
•Tommy Tuberville of Auburn: Gone since 2008, coached Texas Tech until 2012, now at Cincinnati
Caddyshack was actually inspired by writer Brian Doyle-Murray's memories of working as a caddy at a golf club. Working as a caddy must be pretty entertaining work at times, considering Caddyshack is generally considered one of the greatest comedies of all time.
It probably wouldn't be held in the same comedic esteem if the roles of Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield were just cameos, as was originally intended. Their improvisational liberties and party atmosphere created by their presence didn't sit well with the rest of the cast.
Particularly with the cast members whose roles had been reduced by director Harold Ramis to give more screen time to the three comedians.
6. Rocky II
Perhaps feeling the pressure to live up to the drama of the penultimate fight against Apollo Creed in Rocky, screenwriter and star Sylvester Stallone initially had quite the grand plan for the sequel.
In the first draft of Rocky II, the fight took place at the famed Roman Colosseum. Ya know…boxers…gladiators…symbolism. As always, Sly is subtle like a sledgehammer.
5. A League of Their Own
All the actresses who auditioned for A League of Their Own had to prove they could actually play baseball, as everyone cast would be expected to play and do all their own stunts.
The vicious "strawberry" bruise that Alice, played by actress Renée Coleman, got on her thigh while sliding into base lasted for a full year.
She took it in stride though. After all, there's no crying in baseball.
4. The Natural
In the final scenes of The Natural, Roy Hobbs, played by actor Robert Redford, leads the New York Knights to a pennant win with a dramatic home run that blows out some of the lighting on the scoreboard. Hobbs rounds the bases for the final time in his career as sparks from above rain down on him.
The scene was actually inspired by a real-life event. In 1945, the Boston Braves' Bama Rowell doubled off the Ebbets Field scoreboard clock, showering Dixie Walker with glass. Apparently he was promised a free Bulova watch for hitting the company's scoreboard sign, which he finally received in 1987.
3. Slap Shot
Anyone who saw Slap Shot at the theater and then later on home video may have been confused by a pretty significant change in the film. The change had nothing to do with the plot, but rather the soundtrack.
The vast majority of songs used in the movie's theatrical release were replaced by entirely different songs when it was later released on VHS and DVD. Apparently there were some major obstacles with the music licensing.
It wasn't until the 25th anniversary edition of the film was released that the original songs were finally restored.
2. Raging Bull
Actress Cathy Moriarty, who played in Raging Bull, actually had her hair set with corn syrup for some ridiculous reason. It may have given director Martin Scorsese the look that he wanted, but it was perhaps a bit more trouble than it was worth.
The corn syrup became an issue with any scenes set outside because it attracted every bee within a five-mile radius. Okay…maybe not that many bees, but the last place anyone wants bees flocking to is their face.
1. Space Jam
Space Jam was released in 1996 and was one of the first movies to have a website. The first was Stargate, which was released two years prior.
The movie's original promotional website is still online and active, exactly as it appeared nearly two decades ago. It's a GeoCities blast from the past that can be found here.
Bonus Fact: The Waterboy
This one may be hard to wrap your head around, but it's the God's honest truth. Adam Sandler's magnificent opus, The Waterboy, is the second-highest grossing sports movie of all time.
It had a pretty good run in the No. 1 spot until eventually being knocked off by The Blind Side.
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