Knowing they'd be focusing on Coach Brooks, the producers and director Gavin O'Connor were determined to find the perfect actor to fit the role. "I wanted Kurt to play Herb from early on in the process. I was very much aware of Kurt's athletic background, his passion and knowledge of sports and, of course, I was a fan of his work as an actor. What he's done in this film is astonishing," says O'Connor.
INTERVIEW WITH KURT RUSSELL ('Herb Brooks'):
You did a really good job in this movie, and sometimes you don't always get good scripts.
Listen, when you're inside my skin and you walk down the street, you'd be surprised at what people like and what people don't like. Movies that I've done which are some of my favorites, sometimes people won't talk about them at all for a long period of time and they'll talk about other movies and vice versa. And movies that I didn't particularly think were great, people will walk up to me and say, "Oh, Captain Ron is my favorite movie of all time." I just bought a boat last year, and I was on the boat and I pulled into the first marina and everybody was looking at me. And I wasn't Kurt. I was Captain Ron. Everybody had that tape on their boat. I very soon discovered that Captain Ron and Overboard are the two tapes everybody has to have on their boat! Flyers, pilots Executive Decision is one of their favorite movies of all time. They love that movie! Then there are cult movies like Escape from New York, Escape from LA and Big Trouble in Little China - the movies are all different. Some people are just crazy about Tombstone, so everybody has something they like and I understand what you're saying. It's just when you're in my skin, you'd be surprised.
All I ever try to do is something I do think that I'd like to do, that I'd like to do as an actor, and you hope that the movie works out. There's a lot that goes into making a movie and in this one, I think the director did an absolutely terrific job. I'm really glad people are responding to this movie the way they are, because I do like it myself. I love it. I think it's really an emotional movie. And I think that, in my estimation in fact, this is not one of the better screenplays I've worked with. It's one of the better outcomes of a movie that I've worked on. It just is. This movie, more than any movie I can think of that I've been involved in, is emotional. It makes you feel something and I think that translates into looking at it from your point of view and saying that must be a good script. And it is a good script. It's no Tombstone, it's no Silkwood, it's no Vanilla Sky, it's no Tequila Sunrise. These are crackerjacks, and over a period of time, those still hold up as good screenplays. But those movies I don't think hold up to this movie in any way in terms of the emotional feeling that you get.
How tough is it to play someone real without mimicking them?
If mimicry is what you're going to do, then the approach is something that I actually don't much understand. I don't understand mimicking that [well]. I don't really know how to do that. What I do know how to do is watch people. I perceive why they are the way they are, why they behave the way they do, and I can do that with anybody. To certain degrees, I have that ability. I know that, I have known that all of my life. I had it when I was five. I'm good at seeing people and getting inside their head and saying, "I know how he feels right now. I know how that person feels and I know why they feel like that."