Casting "Draft Day"
For the role of Sonny Weaver Jr.-the man at the center of story-filmmakers
cast iconic actor Kevin Costner.
"While I was reading the screenplay in the middle of the night, there was
just one face that kept coming up," comments Reitman. "Frankly, the part was
written for someone in his mid-thirties, because a lot of general managers are
young, but only one face came to my mind all the time... I kept seeing Kevin
Costner. There was something about his all-American sincerity and the weight of
his character that I had seen in so many other movies, particularly his sports
related movies, that I felt that he would be perfect for Sonny Jr."
Medjuck concurs: "Kevin's obviously a sportsman, and he enjoys sports. Up
until recently, he's often played a player, and now he's at an age where he can
play a manager. He was the first person we thought of for Sonny Jr. The script
reads for him-Costner has that aura of an all-American athlete and someone
interested in sports."
"Kevin has both the gravitas and the believability for that role. The movie
takes place in a real NFL environment, where you truly believe this is not an
actor who's playing this part, he's a person who really belongs there," adds
As the center of the film-a good Midwestern sports guy-Bell feels that
Costner has the right mix of authenticity and authority. She says, "In a way,
Kevin feels like people we know. He feels like he could be my next-door
neighbor. That relatability really will pull viewers into the story and have
them empathize with him in his unenviable position."
"He's an American, and I play American characters, for the most part,"
comments Costner. "Sonny is taking a beating that day and it is coming from
everywhere... from his mother, from his girlfriend, from his own boss, and from a
town that has gone too long without a winner. It's all falling down on him to
the point where he can't even turn a corner or turn on the radio without hearing
his name. It's not his imagination that there are people after his head."
Not only does Sonny Jr. have to somehow please all of the people who come
crashing into his life on that day-girlfriend, mother, fans, coach, owner,
agents, players-he has to do battle with one of the most formidable foes a man
can ever come up against...his own past.
Sonny Weaver is Junior to THE Sonny Weaver, beloved former head coach of the
Cleveland Browns, after whom the practice field is named. After assuming the
mantle of GM of the team, at some point, Sonny Jr., had to fire Sonny Sr., an
action for which he is still continually tried in the court of public
opinion...and found wanting. As his character points out, everything now takes
place in the ever-watchful eye of 24-hour news coverage, with sportscasters
filling air time by playing an unending game of 'what if?'
Upon Costner's acceptance of the part, the actor shared his insights on the
role with filmmakers, adding personal touches and takes on the character-facets
which the screenwriters were more than happy to paint into Sonny Jr.
"Sonny makes a decision but on the surface, it doesn't feel right, but he
just keeps clawing. He doesn't give up, he doesn't run to the shadows and
eventually, almost like in football, a gap starts to open, not by design, but
because he didn't fade," says Costner. "He hung in there and a gap came and he
stepped through it. Some people thought of it as genius that he would do that,
something that was a manipulated plan, but I saw it as somebody who didn't give
up and when the opening came, he still had a clear head and he saw it. Sometimes
when you're going to be the leader of some group, and you have to evaluate
talent, you do it in an unconventional way because maybe you see things that
other people don't see."
In order to better his team's position, Sonny Jr. barters away his seventh
pick, along with the next three years' first round picks, all to obtain the
number one pick in the draft this year. But before the barrage of naysayers,
opinion offerers, and just plain haters, the first person who enters Sonny Jr.'s
life on this all-important day is someone who steps out of the bathroom,
post-shower-his girlfriend Ali. She also happens to be his colleague in charge
of salary caps for the Browns. Tough, intelligent, easy on the eyes, a woman
with focus and ambition-this is Ali.
"Jennifer Garner is now one of my favorite people in the world," states
Reitman. "I had heard from other directors what a joy she is to work with, and
she's just so smart. She's so aware of everything that goes on the set. I love
the simplicity of what she did in this film and the complexities that comes
through with that simplicity. She looks gorgeous. The relationship between her
and Costner is really effective, and a lot of it has to do with the warmth that
comes from within Jennifer."
In the course of their extensive research, the filmmakers discovered multiple
teams who employ females as salary cap managers, which supported and dovetailed
with the idea of the creative team. As Medjuck puts it, "We wanted her to have a
job that gave a responsibility, and also one that provided her with a strong
interest in the game."
For Garner, the filmmakers had her interest once she had read the script. She
confirms, "The screenplay just crackles off the page. When the script is this
good, and then you learn Ivan Reitman is involved, and then Kevin signs on, and
then Denis Leary...you realize they can pretty much handpick whoever they want,
and with all of that together, it generates even more excitement about the
"I've had great women in my movies all through my career and to get a great
woman in your movie, you have to write one first," states Costner. "Who can play
it and that list really starts to shrink, and in this instance, we had to have
somebody that had this All American look. Ali was a cheerleader, who grew up
loving the Browns, but also had this work ethic that took her to college.
Jennifer just looks like that girl. She has a significant job and she makes it
all work. We have this relationship that she's decided would be better if it be
kept silent. But like anything in the world of women, when they decide they
don't want it to be a secret anymore, they change the rules, which confuses us
guys. Every guy in the world gets who she is and I totally get why Sonny's so
screwed up right now. We draw on what's charming about relationships, and
watching Sonny deal with her, you think, oh my goodness, that could be us."
The actress found much to admire in her onscreen character. Garner recounts,
"Ali has been raised on the Cleveland Browns, a die-hard lifer fan. When she was
15, she wrote a letter to Coach Sonny Weaver Sr., telling him how he should have
one of his guys practicing in a different way. That led to an internship, and
then her going from smaller jobs to bigger jobs. I'm sure they probably put her
through law school, and now she has this big job. She lives and breathes and
dies the Cleveland Browns."
Garner, in fact, shares more than a little bit with Ali and pronounces, "I
love football, and I grew up watching it-I went to every game, because I was in
the marching band. My senior year, I was the water girl for my high school
football team. In West Virginia, where I'm from, we had WVU or the Thundering
Herd Marshall, but no professional team. So we would watch Cleveland or
Pittsburgh-we kind of traded around our loyalties."
Ali Bell comments, "Jennifer represents what it's like to be a contemporary
woman, and she really embodies that in a way that's wonderful and strong, really
fearless. She and Kevin are fantastic together."
Garner concludes, "She has to be as strong as the men, and let a lot roll off
of her back. She can't sit around and whine when they say something
silly...because they're men. Ali knows about the Browns, she knows about football,
and she is not going to be condescended to or patronized in any way, shape or
"Sonny and Ali are the two most important characters and their relationship
is what viewers will really latch onto," says Rajiv Joseph.
The second most important person in the story is Sonny Jr.'s head coach,
Vince Penn, a recent hire by the Browns and someone who has no problem
disclosing his feelings or sharing his thoughts on what exactly a person may
have done wrong.
Producer Medjuck offers, "Denis Leary plays the head coach of the team, and
he's come from a team where he won the Super Bowl, and now he's at the Browns.
The Coach has his own ideas on the team's draft pick, and makes them known in no
uncertain terms. Unfortunately for Sonny, he's usually argumentative, and always
"It was very important for me that the man who played the coach, an
antagonist to the general manager, have a totally different acting and emotional
energy for those scenes to really crack," Reitman comments. "I immediately
gravitated to Denis Leary, who I really didn't know but followed his standup and
television work. The Irish swagger that he's got and words trip off his tongue
very easily. I needed somebody who could play eighth and sixteenth notes against
Costner's direct, more singular whole notes. There is a real musical energy to
their scenes together."
Leary had his own definite ideas when he read the screenplay for Draft Day
and shares, "You get so many scripts, and most of them are not good, or they're
shooting some place where I don't necessarily want to be, or I'm already busy.
There are so many reasons to not do a movie, and the chances are by the time the
script reaches your door, it's a no-go. When I heard Ivan's name, and that he
was doing a football movie, I automatically thought, 'Okay, well, I'm just not
going to get my hopes up.' I got the script, and knew it had been recognized as
one of the Blacklist scripts, a script that was chosen as one of the best unmade
scripts around, and it was great. It was good, it was funny, it was heartfelt,
and had a lot of football in it. But, I'm still a pessimistic optimist... I expect
the worst to happen, and I look forward to getting it over with. But I got the
part, which is great."
The screenwriters had more than a general idea about the tough-as-nails
character of Coach Penn-in fact, they modeled the character after Jon Gruden,
Super Bowl-winner and former coach of the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers. "He's known for his intensity and his brash personality," offers
Producer Bell illustrates, "Coach Penn and Sonny Weaver Jr. are
equals-they're part of the same team-but they do want very different things. It
was really important when we cast the role that we found somebody that could
teeter-totter with Kevin, where the balance legitimately would shift and one
person really wasn't in control all the time. We wanted a chess game, with two
equals going at one another, and Denis really brings that."
"That's good writing because it can't always be one way," says Costner. "It
doesn't mince words, I say what I think, but then I go on and try to work with
him. Coach Penn says what he thinks and then there's this begrudging thing. That
makes for better characters to watch. I can't just be the good guy and he's the
bad guy. What we can be are two different personalities and we are not working
together and we seem at odds. But my neck is on the line, it's going to be my
decision, but everything I do is so that he can succeed. Coach Penn may not
believe that, and would probably do it differently."
Leary matter-of-factly says, "I hadn't played a coach yet. It was a great
opportunity for me as a sports fan. I'm a huge movie guy and a huge sports guy,
and you can't really be that without being a Costner fan. I don't like golf, but
I loved 'Tin Cup.' To work with Costner... this was a chance for me to work with a
really great actor, an icon for me. I never would have thought that I could be
in a sports movie with Kevin Costner...or a Western. Those were my two fantasy
choices with him."
It seems that every person in Sonny Jr.'s life is a force to be reckoned
with, and his mother is definitely in that bracket. Filmmakers turned to Ellen
Burstyn to bring Barb Weaver to life.
"Ellen Burstyn is one of those treasures, who has had a long spectacular
career in films playing both the comedic side and the dramatic side, and you buy
into both of them," says Reitman. "The most wonderful thing is Kevin really
looks like her son, they have the same eyes, bone structure, and same skin tone.
Barb's a tough character in the movie and Ellen pulls it off. She walks this
very careful line where the audience is not sure about her for a long period,
doesn't even like her for a while. But at the same time, she's funny and then we
get emotionally involved in that story because it reminds a lot of us about our
relationships with our own mothers."
Burstyn's knowledge on the game of football was far from encyclopedic, and
she concedes, "What I know about football is what I learned from being a
cheerleader in high school, so I know the game. But the teams and the whole
concept of a draft day, I didn't know anything about. The first time I read the
script, it was like reading a foreign language. I read it a few times and I was
able to figure it out-it's like a 'backstage at the football game' movie, and
once I got there, I found it incredibly interesting and compelling."
While filmmakers knew the highest level of dramatic capability would
accompany Burstyn, they were unaware of something else that she would bring to
the game. Ali Bell says, "Ellen's comedic timing is absolutely impeccable. We
sit on set watching her read lines that we didn't even know were funny, and that
are just huge, giant laughs. She's a total sweetheart to have around. One day
she was walking up and down the football field in the rain and never once
complained; she just smiled and was lovely to everyone. You can see her and
Kevin being mother and son."
Not only does Barb present her own thoughts to Sonny Jr. about what she feels
is best for the team, she also brings an issue she feels has gone unresolved.
Burstyn contends, "Barb's husband, Sonny Sr., has been gone a week, and she's
involved in carrying out his wishes and the reading of the will, and it's all
happening on the same day as the draft. It's definitely something that
complicates her son's day. But she's been around the team forever, and knows all
of the ins and outs. She's acutely aware of the team's problems and hopes that
her son can finally elevate the team to a winning streak."
Perhaps one of the wildest cards in the deck with which Sonny Jr. plays is the
team owner, Anthony Molina. Rich, sharp and headstrong-filmmakers looked for
someone who could turn on a dime and be believable as both father figure and
Ali Bell says, "Ivan and Frank Langella have developed a close bond over the
years, as they've all grown up in the business up together. You couldn't ask for
a better Molina than Frank...because he is slightly scary. He has this wonderful
way in his performance of telling you he's going to just rip your heart out, but
it also feels like he's offered you a cookie at the same time. It's a great
complexity to that character that is totally delicious."
"Frank Langella is one of the world's great actors. He just played 'King
Lear' in New York on stage, and he's really our King Lear as the owner of the
team. Frank is not a big football fan and didn't understand a lot of the lingo,
but he could follow and really got into the drama. It was his idea to wear the
glasses, and as soon as I saw them on his face, it felt extraordinarily
distinctive for this film and made total sense. He has the physical stature and
the voice, to bring this kind of weight to his character so believe in him. You
get it immediately. He has this wonderful sense of humor that goes with the
comedy, that's really part of the secret of this movie. This is the third time
I've worked with him and each time has been a wonderful addition to the working
Langella expresses gratitude for Reitman boosting his career and taking him
into his character acting phase. On the character of Anthony Molina, Langella
reasons, "My first impression was that I know absolutely nothing about football
and that I'm going to be playing the owner of a football team. Then, that struck
me as the right state of mind to be in. For Anthony, at any rate, you have a lot
of money, you buy a team, and you don't have to know too much."
"Anthony's a mogul," continues Langella. "He's someone with endless amounts
of money, jets, limousines and power. What that gives him, which most of us
don't understand, is that ability to get on your own plane, go where you want
to, do what you want to. He's used to having his own way, controlling the field,
every single day of his life."
Costner adds, "We put a world class actor in that role, and Frank inhabited
it immediately. He clearly is a man that's in charge, but sometimes it's the
last voice that whispered something into his head that he carries into a moment.
Whereas my character is thinking long term and I'm very aware of why something
happened. He's a total result oriented person. In this world, you're measured by
your end result, but for Sonny Jr., there's a foundation that he's trying to
build and he has instincts. You don't always go for the flash. They have a
really unique relationship, but I'm never under the illusion that he wouldn't
fire me tomorrow, so he can create the father son relationship all he wants, but
I can be thrown on the curb so quickly. We've created a very realistic character
in Anthony, and Frank was beautiful in it."
"Like most guys who own enormous, powerful entities like this," Langella
picks up, "he's thinking of how to make a lot of money, to fill those seats.
Sonny, Kevin's character, is thinking of how to get the best team possible
together, so they have two separate issues. As the owner, Anthony wants the best
team, of course, but also, he wants as much razzle-dazzle and show business as
While the motives for a lot of the people in Sonny's life may be apparent,
for his ex-wife Angie played by Rosanna Arquette, they may not be so
For the actress, the bond she feels that has kept her character in the
picture is not the thin one she shares with her ex-husband...it is the very
supportive and mutual one she has with her ex-mother-in-law Barb. Arquette gives
her back story: "Angie has known Barb since she was a teenager. Angie and Sonny
were together for many years, and they were married young. She went through a
lot with him, and she knows him very well. Barb was the mother figure she might
not have ever really had, and they maintain a strong friendship-which isn't
exactly what Sonny would like. But in Barb's mind, there is still the spark of
hope that Angie and Sonny might get back together."
Any man would have more than a full plate to deal with were it only these
people in Sonny's real and professional family. But swirling around the GM is
also an array of football players-some draftee hopefuls, some accomplished
professional athletes-and one very powerful agent... and Sonny Jr. has to resolve
all of their interworking relationships by the close of the day.
To fill these roles, filmmakers turned to a variety of sources, including
both the entertainment industry and the world of sports. Those cast include:
Chadwick Boseman (who portrayed legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson in 42)
as Vontae Mack, a highly touted outside linebacker who plays for Ohio State
University; Josh Pence (one-half of the Winklevoss twins from The Social
Network) as Bo Callahan, the undisputed Number One draft pick, a golden boy
quarterback from the University of Wisconsin; Tom Welling (the young Superman on
the long-running series "Smallville") as Brian Drew, the Browns' current
quarterback, coming off of a season of less-than-stellar performance and injury;
footballer Arian Foster (current running back for the Houston Texans) as Ray
Jennings, a possible legacy for the Browns-a powerful Florida State running back
who would be much higher in the draft, were it not for those recent legal issues
dogging him; former NFL player and now actor Terry Crews (Chris' dad on the hit
comedy "Everybody Hates Chris") as legendary Cleveland Browns linebacker and Ray
Jennings' father, Earl Jennings; and multi-hyphenate Sean Combs as Ă¼ber-agent
Chris Crawford, who reps the rising star, QB Bo Callahan.
In describing outside linebacker Vontae Mack, Joe Medjuck says, "Mack is a
defensive player, as Molina complains in the movie, defensive players don't
necessarily make a splash when you draft them. But Sonny really likes Vontae,
and feels he has great character. His older sister has recently passed away, and
he's now raising his nephews, and he has a very close relationship with his
grandmother. We cast Chadwick Boseman, who just played Jackie Robinson in 42."
Reitman says. "Chad Boseman is a remarkable young actor on the scene. He's
one of the most handsome men I've ever seen and he has great both physical
presence and internal energy. He's funny and he's got this beautiful smile and I
knew he would be a great Vontae Mack, one of our rookies. He had just come off
as the leading star of 42, so there was a lot of talk about him. People were all
over him. He liked the script, thank God. Fortunately I was able to talk him
into doing the movie, because he makes such a strong impression in this film.
It's not only because he's a good actor, but there's a lovely emotional quality
to him that we fall in love with, and that is a very important component to this
Rajiv Joseph adds, "Vontae knows who he is as a man, and he knows who he is
as a player, and that appeals to Sonny, especially now, where Sonny's also
starting to question who he is and is trying very hard to hold onto the things
that he believes in."
Ali Bell concurs, "As a player, he's really good at what he does. He's a
little like most of us, actually, in that he's not the best at what he does, but
he's certainly far from the worst at what he does. He's a good guy you want to
win. That's why Chadwick is so great in this role, because he brings such a
power and strength to the character. You just want to be on his team."
Chadwick Boseman is clearly a big fan of the character of Vontae Mack, when
he extols, "He looks like he's rough around the edges, like he's iron and steel,
but he has a soft side inside. But he's defensive line-he's the guy that will
take your head off. Whatever he looks like, there is a deeper reason why he's
playing the game. He's not looking to make millions of dollars so that he can go
party, get women, and live it up. I tried to create him, knowing that he's going
to be somebody you can build a family or a team around."
There is nothing rough around the edges of quarterback Bo Callahan. He
positively gleams with possibilities. Not only is he most probably going to
receive the Heisman Trophy, he will go on to become a Hall of Famer. Callahan is
a natural athlete, a natural leader, a looker, and nearly a personification of
what makes a great quarterback great.
"We all know that guy," offers Bell, "the one where life is served on a
silver platter, and maybe not undeservedly. We hadn't thought much about Bo
until Josh Pence came in to read a scene, a phone conversation with Sonny, and
Bo says next to nothing in the exchange. I have never seen an actor do so much
with so little on the page. Ivan and I just looked at each other when he left
the room and suddenly, Bo Callahan came to life for us. Maybe we had only
considered the character as one-dimensional, but none of us are one-dimensional...
every one of us, we're all incredibly vulnerable. Josh brings something
wonderful to the role, something that illuminates this kid who's been told what
to do every step of the way."
While Pence may believe that his character does have that golden boy glow
about him, he is keen to point out that on this day in Bo's life, he finds
himself daunted by what is happening around him. Pence says, "The script is
tight, and it really follows the eight to ten hours leading up to the draft. We
pick up on Bo in a moment where he's a little bit of a fish out of water. This
is not his bag. He's a football player. He does what he does on the field. I'm
sure he's done a ton of interviews in college, but this is also the moment that
he's been dreaming of his entire life. It's D-day. There's a nervous energy,
because he's seen people fall many times before, so he's concerned, but he's
also excited. He's got one of the best agents around, and this is going to be
his day. He maybe even has to tell himself that, and more than once."
If Bo Callahan is a quarterback whose time has come, Brian Drew is a
quarterback whose time may be nearly passed... at least as far as most Cleveland
Browns fans, and staff for that matter, are concerned. But while Drew may be
down, he himself keeps fighting not to be pushed out. He's the type of athlete
that never wants the last game to be over-the one that will fight through
injury, through aging, through whatever it is that keeps him off of the
Medjuck says, "Tom Welling was one of the last actors we cast. But that
worked for us, because he understood that driven aspect of Drew beautifully."
"Watching Tom go toe to toe with Costner was one of the most exciting days we
had on set," Bell adds. "You can feel two people so desperate to cling to and
hold their lives together. We're really lucky it was Tom."
Another star that may be on the rise is Florida State running back Ray
Jennings, but that rise may be slowed by some apparent legal kerfuffles in
Florida. Hometown players, however, always have their fans, and most would like
to see Ray follow in the footsteps of his talented Cleveland Browns' alum
father, Earl. With filmmakers bent on establishing the reality of draft day,
nothing is better at establishing reality than something...real. Enter Arian
Foster, running back for the Houston Texans.
Foster heard about the project through his management, and submitted a scene
taped on his digital camera. "It's really an honor that Ivan Reitman actually
gave me a personal phone call after he saw my audition tape and said that he was
impressed-that was humbling enough in itself. Looking at the films he's done and
the actors he's worked with, it's an honor he would even dial my number. I have
to admit, being drafted at Radio City Music Hall, which I was not in real life,
it was really exciting, especially with Terry Crews as my father."
Former NFL player-turned-actor Terry Crews, again, brought verisimilitude to
his scenes with Arian, as a former player cheering on a current player and
supporting him through the hurdles of the drafting process.
When Joe Medjuck saw the 2001 release Monster's Ball, he didn't realize that
one of the performances that impressed him was given by entertainment mogul Sean
Combs. "We all just thought he was a really, really good actor." So, when the
Draft Day team heard that Combs was interested in the project, filmmakers were
eager about the prospect.
Medjuck describes, "He plays a really good agent, Chris Crawford, who now
represents Bo Callahan. Agents are very important to potential draftees,
particularly the top-rated ones. Sean heard about the script, and later told the
writers that he's read quite a lot in his career, and Draft Day was one of the
few scripts that he had to keep reading until he knew what happened to
"We have gotten actors to do parts in this movie that no film should be lucky
enough to get," Bell admits. "People love the script so much, and Sean Combs was
one of those people who really wanted to be involved. At first, we thought that
the small part, wasn't worthy of his acting ability. But in the role, he and
Josh play so well off of each other. When Bo shows any vulnerability, you would
want someone like Sean 'Puffy' Combs smacking you around, telling you to get
your head back in the game."
Combs himself acknowledges, "I try to always surround myself and work with
the best directors and actors. With this ensemble, it's a gift just being
around, even for my small role. If you blink, you'll miss me. But the
information and education I received was priceless. It was a role that I thought
that even for the few seconds that I would be on the screen, I would be able to
add some color, some flavor, and I really hope that I accomplished that."
"A lot of people may not know this, but my dream was to be an NFL football
player," Combs admits. "I broke my leg in my last summer camp of high school, so
I became a musician, an entrepreneur, and an actor. But in high school, football
was everything. It was that balance-do great in school, and the payoff was to
play football. I was raised on it, and it was a dream. So if I can get close to
the game in any way, shape or form-maybe even owning a team one day, but for
now, this movie-I can live vicariously through the players for a few days."
Draft Day also features an amazing roster of sports talent-players, on-air
talent, and real-life icons-who make appearances throughout the film. From
current NFL teams, fans should be able to spot New York Giants tackle James
Brewer, New York Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill, New York Jets linebacker
Demario Davis, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Ramses Barden, and free-agent punter
Zoltan Mesko (team affiliations as of March 2014), all portraying draft players
at Radio City Music Hall.
Appearing as themselves are Chris Berman (anchor of ESPN's "SportsCenter,"
"Monday Night Countdown" and "Sunday NFL Countdown," to name a few), Jon Gruden
(the youngest coach to ever win a Super Bowl, and now an NFL analyst for ESPN),
Mel Kiper (an analyst for ESPN's annual NFL draft coverage since 1984), Deion
Sanders (former baseball player and Pro Football Hall of Famer, now NFL Network
analyst), Mike Mayock (former New York Giants safety, now game and draft analyst
for the NFL Network and analyst for NBC's coverage of Notre Dame football), and
Rich Eisen (sports journalist for the NFL Network)-and filmmakers might have
even included more NFL, on-air or Hollywood talent, just to keep viewers in the
Perhaps one of the most auspicious sports figures to appear in Draft Day is
the man commentators customarily refer to as "the most powerful man in
sports"-filmmakers, cast and crew were all honored to host the current
Commissioner of the National Football League, Roger Goodell, the day he appeared
on the Radio City Music Hall set in his cameo role.
For filming at the Cleveland Browns First Energy Stadium, filmmakers drafted
actual at-the-time Cleveland Browns players to appear alongside the cast,
including defensive back Joe Haden, linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, offensive
lineman Alex Mack, nose tackle Phil Taylor, and defensive back T.J. Ward. (Only
Haden and Taylor are currently signed with the team.)
Cleveland Browns V.I.P. figures Bernie Kosar (Ohio native and former Browns
quarterback), Joe Banner (former C.E.O. of the Browns and former President of
the Philadelphia Eagles), and the legendary Jim Brown (who holds a
record-setting nine-year career as Browns running back, was key in the Browns'
1964 Championship Win and has been named "the greatest professional football
player ever" by Sporting News), all appear as themselves.
"We were extraordinarily fortunate to have this remarkable large cast,"
Reitman comments. "I needed to find lots of actors who were only in one scene,
but they had to carry that scene where they had three or four pages of dense
dialogue that you had to totally believe professionally and from a performance
standpoint. For example, the general managers of Houston and of Seattle... these
are not really large parts, but if they don't carry off their scenes, the whole
film's truth and rhythms fall apart."
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