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About The Production (Continued)
Gordon Gray saw Greg Kinnear as providing the perfect contrast to Mark Wahlberg. "Mark has that East Coast, urban, tough, athletic quality, and for Vermeil, we wanted somebody from a completely different world,” he notes. "Greg is that kind of West Coast, sensitive guy—and that's who Vermeil is.”

Having grown up in Indiana, Kinnear never knew the story of Papale but was definitely familiar with the famed coaching skills of Vermeil. To get a more close-up view of the man, he spent an intensive period of time getting to know him and his coaching style. "I made a trip to Dick's training camp in Wisconsin so I could watch him work with players,” Kinnear explains. "He actually introduced me to the players, which was probably the most nerve-wracking thing that happened to me during this movie!”

He continues: "It was a great experience because I found him to be a terrific guy and could see that he is a legend for a lot of different reasons. His intensity, his commitment to winning, his comprehension of the game are all remarkable. And then there's his emotional side. I think one of the more exciting things about him is that unique volatility that he has. He wants to win—but it comes from something deep inside him.”

Vermeil was equally impressed with Kinnear. "I really enjoyed Greg,” says the football legend. "He was very down-to- earth, very easy to visit with and very sincere about getting everything right so that I would be proud of it. I really respected that.” He adds: "Nobody knows me better than my oldest son, who was an extra on the film, and he said, ‘Dad, this guy has you nailed.'”

Like Wahlberg, Kinnear felt a need to make the portrait as true to life in tone as he possibly could— and he had his own motivation. "If I didn't do it right, I was pretty worried Dick might show up on my doorstep,” jokes Kinnear.

Along the way, Kinnear began to gain insights into what drove Vermeil, who left behind his achievements in West Coast college football, to head to the East Coast to take on the NFL's ailing Philadelphia Eagles as a mistrusted outsider. "There was a lot of cynicism about him in the beginning,” Kinnear notes. "Here was this California guy coming into a blue-collar town that takes its football very seriously, and I think people wondered if they had made a huge mistake. But Dick proved them wrong.” He did so by doing things like holding the open tryouts that turned up Vince Papale. "Dick had a real sense that he was trying to build something—and if that meant calling in all the bartenders and would-be football players from around town, he was willing to try that,” Kinnear explains.

Having met the real Vince Papale as well, Kinnear developed a keen understanding of what Dick Vermeil saw in him, despite his advancing age and lack of experience. "Vince is just a wonderful, highenergy guy who is kind of an Everyman that anyone can relate to,” Kinnear observes. "I found him to really be an inspired person. You can see how he brought bags full of spirit to the team and the people around him. Back then, his team, the city, the country, everything was in pretty bad shape, but Papale had that simple, driving passion and determination that gave a lot of people hope.”

In forging his relationship with Mark Wahlberg as Papale, Kinnear saw that his character shares a lot in common with the inexperienced rookie. "These were two guys who were both in over their heads at exactly the same time,” he says, "and even though they were from completely different social and economic backgrounds, they converged together over something they both really loved and cared about. I thought the script handled their relationship really beautifully.”

Papale especially enjoyed Kinnear's metamorphosis. "When I first saw him in the green pants, the white belt and the long hair, I thought ,‘My Go

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