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Interview with Eddie Cahill and Jim Craig

"Miracle" from Disney Pictures


Eddie Cahill Miracle

Eddie Cahill and Kurt Russell in a scene from "Miracle."

Walt Disney Pictures
People don’t really appreciate how grueling it can be to be a goalkeeper. Did you reach a new level of appreciation for goalies?
Eddie Cahill: The first time I put the pads on was actually at the final audition for the movie, which was a game that we played. I myself didn’t have an appreciation for the physicality having never done it. The economy of motion is so small but so concentrated. [It’s] so compact and you have to do so many things at once. You have to be incredibly focused, so relaxed, so fast, and I don’t know how to describe it other than it’s more than I’ve ever sweat in my entire life. It’s more than my legs have ever done in my entire life, no matter how far I ran, getting across that crease for the first time was quite an endeavor. I absolutely developed an appreciation physically.

Jim Craig: You know what’s really funny? When I try to explain playing goal [it’s as] if you go to work all day and you come home and you’re a different type of tired than if you go out and do manual labor. Well, goal is both. You have manual labor and you’ve got all that stress. It’s almost like the movie “Terminator.” When a person comes up the ice, there are 10 things a person can do, then there are 7 things a person can do – you’re eliminating things as a person comes at you. You are eliminating options. You are like a coach because you need to know everybody’s position and where it could go and where it should go and why it should go. I think why I was better at European or International hockey was because they were much more intelligent when they play. The NHL is more like they shoot from everywhere. It doesn’t make sense. And so it was really a lot of fun for me to play internationally. But the challenge of goal is so much of a mind game.

Eddie Cahill: One more thing dawned on me about the challenge of goaltending, which doesn’t look like much – one of the hardest things that I had to learn was the commitment to stillness and how exhausting that can be. Waiting for something to happen because you don’t ‘do’ as a goalie – and Jimmy and I have talked about this – you wait for something to happen and then you react. That sort of stillness and focus infiltrates the whole because it’s an aggressive stillness, an acquired stillness. There’s a lot going on there.

Jim Craig: Another thing about goaltending is you have to understand the weaknesses and strengths of every player and you have to be able to utilize those strengths and weaknesses. It’s almost like a guy without a lot of hair. You push it over here and you have to be able to take people’s talents and utilize them.

Given your recent TV experiences on “Friends,” was it hard for you to persuade the filmmakers that you could do something like this?
Eddie Cahill: I don’t know. All I know is that I had him to inspire me initially, and then I just ran after it. The second I knew it was a movie, the second I knew they were doing this, I ran I ran I ran – and did whatever I had to do.

Why was the movie so important to you?
Eddie Cahill: It was an opportunity to play one of my heroes. Obviously it was Jimmy’s talents that inspired me at first, then it became the small things. It was the little things like seeing two Shamrocks on the mask. Being an Irish-American, watching him look for his father in the crowd and knowing my relationship with my father, it moved me. And that sort of took over. I wasn’t thinking necessarily anything, just do what you’ve got to do to try and make this happen. Run as far as you can and if you’ve got to, put the goal pads on. The first time I did was in an audition. I’d never done it.

The movie makes a big deal of the test Herb Brooks gave to his players. Did you ever end up taking the test?
Jim Craig: What’s really funny is that I have a really good memory but I was with Danny Brooks and he was saying, “You know, you really pissed my dad off when you didn’t take that test.” I don’t remember because at that time in my life, dealing with losing my mother and my father being at home, I was taking it day by day. I didn’t know how long it was going to last there. Every time I’d call home [it would be], “How are you doing?” Here’s a man who has a wife of 40 years and he’s got two teenage boys, and she did everything. All of a sudden now he’s there by himself. I’m calling home, “How’s he doing?” He started knitting, he sat at home, he didn’t get rid of her clothes – it was a very traumatic time. And so taking a test wasn’t a big deal to me, but it was a big deal to him. It was so trivial to me at that time. Here I was, “I’m here to play hockey.” It wasn’t defiance that I wasn’t doing it, it was like I was overloaded. “Oh, I didn’t take it?” I didn’t know.

Kurt Russell / Nathan West / Billy and Buzz Schneider

Additional “Miracle” Resources:
“Miracle” Photo Gallery
“Miracle” Trailer, Credits, and Websites

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