Sean Astin is one of the most underrated actors from the 90s. People always remember the big stars like Leonardo DiCarprio or Jonathon Taylor Thomas, but unless specifically mentioned, Astin's success seems to be forgotten.
It's a real shame too, because his movies were such classics. He was in a lot of classics like Goonies and of course Lord of the Rings, but it was his movie about a persistent football player that should be on everyone's mind.
Rudy was actually one of the best sports movies ever. It came out 25 years ago, and after all this time it's still considered a classic.
Astin recently spoke with Yahoo Entertainment about the movie, and discussed its longevity, its emotional impact, and what it was really like having to get tackled by those big football players.
The movie is coming back to select theaters to celebrate the anniversary, and Astin is happy that it's getting a second chance at the box office now that it has a cult following.
"The surprise came when the film started to find its audience in the year or two or three after it came out. When it originally came out, it was not a box-office success; it was discovered by video fans, and then on cable.
Then at a certain point, it reached this critical mass where it seemed like a lot of people knew the film in the mid-’90s. Once it locked in like that, I felt like I knew it was always going to have a place in people’s hearts."
You know how the movie makes you cry every time you watch it? Don't worry, it gets Astin too.
"It always gets me too. It’s Jerry Goldsmith’s music that I think ushers that emotion through people as they’re experiencing that story.
One of my favorite experiences was having really big guys — football players, or working people — come up and tap me on the shoulder, because they need a personal aside, a personal moment. 'Dude, can you talk to me for a minute?' 'Yeah, what’s up?'
And then they whisper under their breath, 'I cried in that movie.' And I’m like, 'You know man, that’s awesome. That’s really good that you were able to feel that.'"
The project meant a lot to him because he knew how it felt to be an underdog.
"The thing that really grabbed me was the story, because it felt like my story. I was always the last kid on the bench in Little League, and on the cross-country team I ran on.
I always felt like the thing I could contribute to teams I was on was to try harder than everybody else. Because I wasn’t that naturally gifted when it came to sports.
And also with my career — really wanting to prove to myself that I could carve out a career. That’s what really struck me."
Astin did a lot of the stunts himself, and had the bruises to show for it.
"I did most of it. The most extreme hits — there’s one sequence where there’s just a series of like 15 hits where I’m getting absolutely pummeled, and the double did that.
They wouldn’t let me do some of it, because you have to be able to speak the next day. When you get hit really hard, sometimes it takes a little bit to get your head together."
He would even take pictures of the bruises to show off!
"I got lots of bruises, and I would take Polaroid pictures of those bruises.
I remember my wife and I were staying in this little house — we had just gotten married, actually, when we made the movie — and I had those Polaroids up so that when people would visit, I’d be like, 'If you’d like to see, here’s the Renaissance portrait I paid $20 million for, and here’s the Polaroid of me getting bruised up.'"
Astin also got to meet the real Rudy Ruettiger because he was on set for most of the filming.
"He was there all the time; he was a constant presence. He sensed when it would be good to not be around, because there’s maybe an emotional scene, or the film needed to breathe a little bit. He was sensitive to that. But no, the film wouldn’t have gotten made if he wasn’t there...
Rudy’s story is my story — that’s how it feels. He’s everybody’s story, really — Rudy’s story is a metaphor. The name means, to have a dream...
There were times when I would go to him and ask, 'What were you thinking here?' But, you know, it’s a film — it’s not a biopic, specifically. There’s a lot of artistic license that’s taken in the movie. There are human beings who were friends of his, or colleagues, who are amalgamated in the movie. So it was really helpful, performance-wise, to have him share his stories and experience."