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Resurrecting the Champ in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Resurrecting the Champ

Samuel L Jackson • Josh Hartnett • Alan Alda

Samuel L Jackson and Josh Hartnett THE CONCEPT:
Based on a true article written by JR Mochringer, published on May 4, 1997, the movie recounts the relationship between a homeless man everyone calls ‘The Champ’ (Jackson), and a Denver Times sports reporter, Erik Kernan (Hartnett), who believes the old man is the legendary ‘Battling Bob Satterfield,’ and is determined to write the story of a lifetime on him.

U.S. RELEASE: August 24 2007, Nationwide
• Rated: PG-13


“I read the article in 1997, and I thought, ‘My God, that’s a good story.’ It touched on so many different themes for me. The primary difference [between the article and our movie] is that JR Moehringer does not have kids, and I really wanted this story to be about him and his little boy.”

“It was great to have JR Moehringer, the author of the original article, to talk to. And when I was in New York I hung out with some journalists there, and I hung out with journalists in Denver to see how much pressure people are under in this business, it gave me a new kind of respect for them.”

ALAN ALDA (Metz, editor of Denver Times):
“I doubt that my character is based on anybody real. I think that was invented in the course of writing it for the purpose of telling the story. But, as you know, the Moehringer story really happened but not exactly the way it is in the movie. I think it’s heightened a little in the film.”

“My character is just a creation out of my consciousness, although I did box when I was younger, but that had nothing to do with this.”

“There are very few people on the planet who could play ‘The Champ’ and get it green lit at the same time. In 1997, Morgan Freeman was a producer on the film, and he was going to star in it, and it was just one scheduling conflict after another. In 2006, Jackson finally got old enough that he could possibly play it well. We offered it to him on a Friday, and on Monday he said yes, and I see why, to me this is his Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy.”

“Sam and I got along really well as actors. I think he’s terrifically talented. He’s such a smart actor. He comes to the set with everything already planned. He’s kind of a legend. He comes in, puts on the make-up, puts on the hair, the voice, the walk and it’s like the exterior aspects inform the interior life of the character, which is kind of the opposite of how people have been working lately in movies. It was inspiring, because it opens up a whole other realm of possibilities for me having seen it work.”

“When a director says cut I become Sam [again]. Sometimes I would look at Josh and just start laughing because he’ll have messed up something. Josh likes to do at least four takes, because he likes to build into it. You do what the other actor needs so they can do what they need to do.”

“I admire when people take the harder path, not because they are masochistic and want to beat themselves up, but because you actually learn more and you grow more. I really like what I do and, for me, it’s not that much of a sacrifice to choose movies like this, because I think that movies like this are the ones that really affect people.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © Yari Film Group
Feature © 2007 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #687, September 2007 cover

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