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VARSITY BLUES

About The Story
In his 35th year as head coach, Bud Kilmer (Jon Voight) is trying to lead his West Canaan Coyotes to their 23rd division title

In his 35th year as head coach, Bud Kilmer (Jon Voight) is trying to lead his West Canaan Coyotes to their 23rd division title. Uncompromising and omnipotent, Kilmer is deified in the small Texas town, as long as the team is winning.

But when star quarterback Lance Harbor (Paul Walker) suffers a season-ending injury, the Coyotes are forced to regroup under the questionable leadership of second-string quarterback Jonathan Moxon (James Van Der Beek). His irreverent attitude and approach to football come into direct conflict with the coach's inflexible game plan.

"Varsity Blues" explores our obsession with sports and how teenage athletes respond to the extraordinary pressures placed on them. It's a comedy with lots of heart, a movie that is as much about teen angst and adults' loss of perspective as it is about high school football.

"I've always been a fan of movies about high school, like John Hughes' films from the 1980s. I've also always been a huge sports fan. So, I was immediately attracted to 'Varsity Blues' because it's not only a fast-paced and exciting football movie, but also a story with depth and humor about young people," explains director and producer Brian Robbins.

The intensity and importance of high school football in Texas is legendary. For avid sports enthusiasts like Robbins and his producing partner, Mike Tollin, capturing the competitiveness and quality of this brand of football on screen was irresistible. As part of their research, Robbins and Tollin made a trip to Austin and Houston to visit local high schools and watch state play-off games. "We were amazed at the crowds that turned out for these games. Forty thousand people at the Astrodome for a high school football game is phenomenal. It's unbelievable how swept up the state of Texas is in high school football."

That kind of fervor can induce kids to play the sport despite their ability or interest. When Friday night games are the focus of an entire community, a tremendous amount of pressure from parents, teachers and peers is placed on the players. As a high school quarterback in small town Texas, particularly one who's leading a team with a winning season, the stakes are high and the potential for fame is enormous. "You're bigger than any movie star... you own the town," adds Robbins.

With five games to go in his senior year, second-string quarterback Jonathan Moxon is suddenly thrust into the limelight and forced to take the team reins due to a debilitating injury that has left the first-string quarterback on the sidelines. "The character of Mox is propelled into the role of star player, something he's never wanted to be. He struggles to do the right thing without compromising his integrity or betraying his identity in the face of insurmountable pressure from his parents and maniacal coach," says Robbins. "Mox is the reluctant hero of the film."

James Van Der Beek came to "Varsity Blues" eager to stretch his boundaries as an actor and play a very different role from 'Dawson,' the character for which he's come to be known in the hit television series "Dawson's Creek." Donning football pads and a uniform and battling it out on the field was a dream for Van Der Beek, who gained an extra 15 pounds of muscle for the role.

In describing his character, Van Der Beek says, "Mox is a little cynical and very happily removed as back-up quarterback from the insanity that is Texas high scho

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