MCFARLAND, USA is an inspirational sports story starring Kevin Costner that is heading to theatres this weekend. While Costner has starred in countless sports movies in the past, this one is different for so many wonderful ways. Here are 10 things you need to know about Disney’s new film MCFARLAND, USA.
1) The film is directed by the talented Niki Caro (WHALE RIDER) who firmly believed that the heart of this film was in the community of McFarland. To keep the film grounded in authenticity she not only filmed in the city but she used the people of the city as much as possible, including in some of the main roles in the film.
2) Costner first heard of the story over ten years ago when it ran in Sports Illustrated and was instantly taken by the story. When asked about the importance of bringing Coach Jim White to life he said:
“you know, there’s these men and women (coaches) all over America who are affecting our young people. And relationships that coaches establish with young people is something that carries through their life if it’s done right. You know, I think we’d all like to be Jim White in some way. But it was a pleasure to be able to do that, kind of from that Sports
Illustrated article make this giant circle to actually being in the movie. I mean that feels like a movie, doesn’t it?”
3) Three of the boys playing the runners are from the city of McFarland and have never acted before. Ramiro Rodriguez and Sergio Avelar are from McFarland, and Michael Aguero attended Bakersfield’s East High School.
4) Ramiro Rodriguez took on the role of one the Diaz brothers, Danny Diaz, who Rodriguez knew well because he was his teacher and counselor at McFarland High School. Rodriguez almost said no to the role because he didn’t want to lose his two shifts at the local Pizza Hut.
5) While there are only three Diaz brothers in the film, the Diaz family is a family of seven, six of whom are teachers and one who is a police detective. They all live within 3-4 miles of their parents and are all a big part of the McFarland community.
6) The 1987 team of cross-country runners were much more than just a team, they worked hard and found a second family with Coach Jim White and his wife Cheryl.
7) MCFARLAND, USA is one of those beautiful examples of life reflecting art. Many of the boys had never acted before and found themselves sharing the screen with Kevin Costner. They quickly became more than just actors playing parts, they became a team, a family and Costner was their Coach, helping them along every step of the way. They trained together, they ran together and they even cried together.
8) The boys trained for a month before filming, they would go out and run 5 to 6 miles a day and then do more workouts. This training allowed the boys to bond off camera and become the team you see in the film.
9) One of the cultural differences shown in the film was the quinceanera scene, which turned out to be one of the biggest highlights of the film for Kevin Costner saying:
“I think the celebration of America is these things that our cultures bring to America, to highlight a young girl’s coming of age. I’d never been a part of that, never seen that, and yet that was a real highlight for me. It was obviously a movie moment, but to see her come out and dressed up so beautifully. And you know, it’s the thing you want as a
father, it’s the thing you are scared most of as a father. So you realize that, you know, a million Hispanic men have watched their daughters come out to celebrate this coming of age, and how it melds right into America. I mean, this is something that – you know, I don’t know anybody in life that doesn’t go: I want to do that for my daughter.”
10) Director Niki Caro fell in love with the community and the culture so much that she now is the proud owner of the low-rider that Javi drives in the film with Lupe painted on the hood.
MCFARLAND, USA opens in theatres everywhere on February 20, 2015. Watch the emotional featurette below.