I have been invited as media to attend these events. Expenses have been paid in exchange for my coverage. All opinions are my own.
While in LA for the Million Dollar Arm World Premiere, our group had the incredible honor of interviewing Jon Hamm on his role in the film. Jon walked into the room looking very dapper, wearing a black suit and hair perfectly groomed for the premiere that evening. He was as cool and collected as ever during our interview, but for us girls, it was a BIG deal.
About the film:
Million Dollar Arm is based on the true story of sports agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm), who makes a last-ditch effort to save his career by heading to India where he comes across two 18-year-old boys (Dinesh and Rinku) who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball.
Jon Hamm Interview:
Blogger Q: The story is so inspiring. How did you get involved in the film?
JH: I met with Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray who are the producers of the film. They produced (other sports films) The Rookie and Miracle. So I was familiar with their work and liked not only the kinds of movies that they made, but the stuff that they’ve done with Disney. (The film) had a kind of sensibility that I sparked to. I know Tommy McCarthy who wrote the script and I’ve been a big fan of his work and was really impressed with the script. (I) did not know it was a true story at the time. It somehow escaped my fairly detailed baseball radar. I am a big baseball fan, but I hadn’t heard of it. I kind of Googled around and I learned about it. I thought well this could be not only a fun project to work on as an actor but just a fun — I mean we get to go to India and that could be an interesting experience too. And I’m very, very glad I did. We’re tremendously proud of the film and I made some really good friends on it.
Blogger Q: In the movie we see your character, once he gets to India struggling with the heat. How was it for you to be there?
JH: Well it’s not just the heat. It’s literally everything. I mean it’s a completely different culture. And when you learn more about the actual J.B. Bernstein, my character he had to go through all this and figure out how to do business in this country and figure out how to like manage all of this stuff. And there was no guarantee that it was going to work, at all. It was a huge leap of faith. I mean, if you speak to him now he’s fairly conversant in Hindi so he’s very much comfortable in Indian culture and this was a direct result of this experience that he had.
Blogger Q: Do you think there was more pressure on you as an actor to portray somebody like a character based on a true story?
JH: I would suggest maybe if it was somebody that a lot of people knew. There’s probably a little more pressure on Daniel Day-Lewis playing Abraham Lincoln although no one around really knows him anymore. No, I felt very responsible towards J.B., especially after having met him and learning his story, and learning how profoundly this experience changed his life. We tried to tell that in the film.
JH: (J.B.’s) life was really changed for the better because of this experience. He did not set out to have some sort of life changing experience. He just wanted to make money. Sometimes that happens….you know, unexpectedly you just all of a sudden find yourself affected by things and that’s J.B.’s story. So I felt very close to that and he’s given me his stamp of approval.
Blogger Q: Has filming this movie and traveling to India changed your life in any positive ways?
JH: I think all travel should be kind of life affirming and eye-opening in some way. This was certainly no exception. I’d never been to Asia much less India specifically, so I had no concept of what I was going to see. I mean, we’ve all seen photos of the Taj Mahal but it’s like every travel experience, when you actually get there and you’re there in person it’s in 3D. It’s the sights and smells and the heat and everything makes the experience even more worthwhile. I can’t point to anything specifically where I had (some) sort of epiphany about life, the universe and everything, but I did very much enjoy it. I would totally go back in a heartbeat. And it’s such a big country with so many influences that I saw like the tip of the iceberg of. So I’d love to go back.
Blogger Q: What was your favorite part of the movie and why?
JH: There’s a couple parts I think….most of the stuff we shot in India was pretty great to film ’cause we were in the dirt and it was really exciting. There’s a scene, it’s toward the end of the film that I actually really liked shooting as well that’s much more from an acting standpoint. Which is basically when the kids throw J.B. his “we’re bringing India to you party.” And he realizes that they somehow feel like he’s disappointed in them. J.B. tells this story as well – he felt such responsibility for these kids by that point in their life and their career that the idea of him disappointing them somehow was soul-crushing to him. He’s like, you could never disappoint me. That’s impossible.
JH: He’s their dad at that point, you know, surrogate dad. And the boys are so wonderful in the film and bring such heartfelt, warmth to these characters that the emotion is really what helps to carry the film. It could be just another movie about, you know, sports and feel good, but the emotion that the boys bring to their parts really does, I think carry it into a different world.
Blogger Q: How do you feel that this film is set apart from other sports films that have come along?
JH: I think like most good sports films, it’s not necessarily all about the sport. I think if you look at something like The Natural. Ostensibly that’s about baseball or a baseball player, but it’s really about this guy and his life and how it was changed, and then he got to come back and fall in love and all that other stuff. That’s a movie that if I watch two seconds of, I watch the whole thing and I’m a mess by the end of it. This movie is like that. It’s a family movie but it’s set against the backdrop of sports, in particular baseball. It would be a disservice to it, I think, to just say it’s a baseball movie because for me at least it means much more than that. So back to the first question, that’s kind of one of the reasons why I wanted to do this film. (The movie) felt richer than just a game where I hope they win the big game at the end. And that was what I hope we brought through the making of it.
Million Dollar Arm has begun opening in theaters across the country this weekend and opens worldwide on May 16th. I definitely encourage seeing this family friendly and inspiring movie.
Photo Credit: Disney