Disney’s latest feel-good movie is Million Dollar Arm about a failing sport agent’s quest to bring the first Indian pitcher into Major League Baseball. While it follows the typical formula for a sports film, don’t be deceived that it’s just an ordinary film. Jon Hamm plays the film version of the real-life J.B. Bernstein and his seemingly impossible mission to recruit Indian cricket players to play baseball in the U.S.
Press Pass LA attended the press conference with Hamm with fellow star Lake Bell, J.B. Bernstein and one of the players who was portrayed in the film, Rinku Singh. Producer Joe Roth explained why he loved this story and wanted to bring it to life. He said, “I love the second chance stories and I love fish-out-of-water stories and I, I love the idea that I’m sitting in a movie theater and I’m thinking wow if these two guys can accomplish that, I can get up out of here when the lights get on and I can accomplish almost anything.”
Hamm hadn’t even heard of the story, but found Singh and Dinesh Patel’s tale compelling. He shared, “I read the script and finished the script and loved it and then looked back to the title page and went like wait a minute. ‘This is true?’ I am a huge baseball fan and somehow this went, flew under my radar and I didn’t know and so I immediately like two hours later was on Google finding out everything I could about this…”
Bell, who plays Bernstein’s guest-house tenant and possible love interest, Brenda, was drawn to the script because it didn’t diminish the female side to this sports story. She elaborated, “You know Brenda – that’s what really attracted me to the script so much. Because I think in a sea of gentleman and in a sports movie, perhaps the female character can get left on the sideline. I felt this character is very present and has a lot of energy and is somewhat of an emotional catalyst for, for your (Jon Hamm’s) emotional journey.”
As for the real Bernstein, he was okay with all his faults and foibles being portrayed on the big screen. He owns up to his mistakes saying, “My fish-out-of-water journey is almost exactly how it happened, down to costumes. Rinku and Dinesh’s fish-out-of-water journey is exactly as it happened. The way I fell in love with my wife. Their first try-out failure, which was my fault 100%. Now I’m saying that in public, so I’m on the record.”
As for Singh, he continues to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He understands how Bernstein changed his life and how this movie is going to take his story to the next level. He summed up, “I didn’t play baseball growing up so I always had to put in my 110% effort. It doesn’t matter how you feel, how much you sleep you know, what’s going on in family, girlfriend, it doesn’t matter, but still I have to get up, show up, dressed up and be on time, give 110%. That’s my message. So it’s not about just seeing a dream. It’s about following through on a daily basis with what you’re doing- know what you’re doing, who you hang out with, how much you sleep, what you eat. It’s being respectful to the opportunity.”
Million Dollar Arm opens nationwide on May 10.