"This is a story about a guy who you'd think would have given up on his dreams, but never did," says
Dennis Quaid, star of the new film from Walt Disney Pictures. "The Rookie." "The dream might have been dormant for a long time, but he never stopped wanting to do this one thing. I think that's something everyone can relate to.
Producers Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray also know a thing or two about never giving
up. A pitcher himself who played for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1987, Ciardi proves that you can take the man out of baseball, but you can't take baseball out of the man.
Gordon and I have been active sports fans for years, and making this movie combines our two big interests. This is a movie about dreams, and everything about this movie has been a dream come true
"What I think makes this story special is that Jim got a second shot at fulfilling his childhood dreams,'' Ciardi continues. ''Its so appealing because we all have dreams that we had to give up for one reason or another;
when Jim gets his second chance, he's doing it for all of us)
"I think if this were fictional, people might find it unbelievable," says director John Lee Hancock. ''But amazing as it is, you can't say it s unbelievable; you can't say that it's too good to be true, because, well, it is true.
"What I appreciated about this story was that it was not just a baseball story, but was really a classic American story about redemption about a second chance, about following your dream,' says Oscar-winning producer Mark Johnson. "There's something unfulfilled in
Jim 's life - a dream that he was never able to attain, that's always been just beyond his grasp. And finally, at middle age, he's given the push to go chase that dream one more time."
"Jim Morris got the second chance that very few people get," Quaid says. "That hit home immediately and I
wanted to be as true to that as I could. I felt strongly that I wanted to portray him as honestly as
The road from pitcher's mound to movie screen began in 1999, when Ciardi read a Sports Illustrated article about a high-school science teacher
who had just been hired to play in the minors. "It seemed too good to be true," Ciardi recalls. "And I remember thinking that if this guy ever got to the
big leagues, what a terrific movie
that would make."
stroke of coincidence, the young producer had a personal stake in Morris' unlikely tale. "I
was reading the article, just thinking about what a fantastic movie it would make, when I read that the guy had signed with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1983.
'Hmm, that's when I signed,' I thought. I looked at the picture, put the name to the face
- and that's when I recognized him." Ciardi had been Morris' roommate during a season of
spring training when both were in the Brewers'
minor league system.
Ciardi and Gray tried to reach Morris, who, as a minor league player, was always on the move. They finally located Morris' agent and set up a meeting where the young producers pitched their story idea to
him. By the next Monday, when Morris was called up to the majors and a major story appeared in the Los
Angeles Time, Morris' agent would receive more than 150 calls inquiring into the rights to the rookie's story. In the end, Morris decided to stay with Ciardi and Gray.
Screenwriter Mike Rich was as dogged in his pursuit of the project as the producers had been. Rich read about Morris' ascension to the majors and sent the producers a "little two page outline of
what he thought the movie could be. We were blown away, says
"Plus, Mike had written a movie called 'Finding Forrester,'" says Gray. "We thought the tone of that feature was p
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