FORT WORTH, Texas - Adding to the growing fleet of distinguished members who have been interviewed for this blog is veteran actor Aaron Eckhart. The man who is known for his peformance as Harvey Dent in "The Dark Knight" now brings The Big Mac Blog interview list up to ...
* Sugar Ray Leonard
* Jane Fonda
* Dr. Bob Ballard, the man who discovered The Titanic.
* Dr. Jeff Wigand, the man who was key figure in the class action lawsuit against the tobacco companies in the '90s.
* Author Erik Larson
* Author/historian David McCullough
* Damiel Echols, of the West Memphis Three.
* Author Sebastien Junger
* Actor Drake Hogestyn, from Days of Our Lives.
* Actress Deidre Hall, also of Days of Our Lives.
* Clark Kellogg
* Actor Dermot Mulroney
* Actor Tom Welling
* Director Ivan Reitman
* Jim Nantz
* Marcus Luttrell, the man who lived and authored "Lone Survivor".
Just looking at that list ... I can't believe some of these people talked to me. Pressing on, Mr. Eckhart was recently in Fort Worth to continue the shooting of the movie, "My All American", which is the story of former Texas Longhorns safety Freddie Steinmark.
Eckhart plays the late UT coach Darrell Royal, and the movie is currently shooting in Texas. Eckhart, who in person is pretty slender and not quite 6 feet tall, was nice enough to give me a few minutes in between takes.
Are you a sports, or football fan? I grew up a Raiders fan. Haven’t had much to look forward to so now I watch for the competition. I played sports my whole life. The Raiders were my team in the ‘70s with Kenny Stabler and John Madden and Ray Guy.
That’s so weird you mention the punter. That’s because I’m getting older.
Did you know anything about this Freddie Steinmark movie before you were asked? No. The only thing I knew about Texas football was really Jordan Shipley and Colt McCoy from the national championship game. I knew Texas was big in football, but this has been a total education for me and Coach Royal and what football means to this state, and to Austin.
When it was announced that you would play Darrell Royal, much of the reaction was, ‘Wait – what?’ The way I look at it was, they couldn’t get McNooughey. I never ask why I get roles. I’ve been in this business too long. I love the story. I love Freddie’s courage and I love sports and coaches and I think kids need to see inspirational movies like this.
Is it easier to play someone who lived, like Royal, or a character that is fictional, like the guy you played on Thank You For Smoking? Well, obviously you have to be more accurate. The thing about is that I came here one month early and they surrounded me by former players and people who knew coach Royal very well. I feel like it will be me playing it, I will have some of his mannerisms and hopefully people will recognize him. Hopefully this movie will transcend Texas football around the world.
When you attach yourself to Angelo Pizzo and a sports movie there is the immediate expectation of that it will be Hoosiers or Rudy; is that fair or unrealistic? Yeah,I think that does happen. Have you read the script?
No. This is a good script. It’s a fantastic story. The script is wonderful; I cried every time I read it. This is a story about a kid that was so humble and so full of guts and courage and for this to happen … it’s just a wonderful script.
If I worry about whether I should play Coach Royal, I shouldn’t be in The Dark Knight or Thank You For Smoking, or any movie. We have a fantastic piece of material.
We don’t have a lot of pressures a lot of movies have of trying to fulfill the expectation of a studio.
You have done that both ways; movies where there are expectations from a studio and where there are little – which do you prefer? Oh, I prefer it this way. As long as everybody loves the material, and knows why are you are making the film, that is the main thing.
Some films are just made because they want to make money and they want to reach a certain demographic. You have to know why are you are doing the movie. This movie will satisfy the people who know the story, and transcend football.
How do you that with a guy who has died and you are playing when it was 1969? This was a guy who wanted to win football games.
When you go home, or a hotel, do you stay as Coach Royal? I don’t. But I understand what it takes to want to win football games. I want to make great movies. I want to be the best I can be, and surround myself with the best players – it’s a direct comparison.
So you feel like as long as you are shooting, you have to remain Darrell Royal? You have to, there is no way around it. You have spent so much time incubating thoughts and feelings that they are inside of you. How you react in a certain situation; for example, if I am playing a hard ass coach, I am very likely going to be a hard ass. Darrell was a guy who loved laughing, music, and he loved golf so … that’s what I do.
To get ready for roles, do you gain or lose weight? Oh, yeah. I’m getting ready for a new movie where I play the boxing trainer, Kevin Rooney. For that I’m going to have to gain 50 pounds. I’ve done it before.
How? I’d eat a whole pizza before bed, and when I’d get up I’d have a banana split.
Seriously, that did have to stink. I hated it. I hated it. This time, since I’m 46, I’m going to get a nutritionist and do it a better way.
Because it looks like you are in good shape now. Yeah, I am. I ride my bike all the time – that’s what I do. I ride with a group out of Austin.
How do you completely stay out of the tabloid or gossip magazine or shows? I just do. First of all, I don’t think anybody cares. I guess I could. Maybe break up a marriage or something, right? That would be good. It’s just one of those things, if you want to, you can. If you don’t, you don’t.
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