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Back when I was in college at SUNY Geneseo in upstate New York, I was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. And let me tell you, folks… we were a big deal in the 1990s.
Anyway, one of our fraternity brothers got the nickname “Manumana” while pledging.
And if you know what that nickname is based on, you are going to love this article. (If you aren’t, read this anyway. It is sure to change your life.)
We spoke to the people that helped make the 1991 football comedy classic Necessary Roughness one of the most beloved sports movies of the past 30 years.
So sit back, grab a beverage of choice and find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start looking for a vegetarian restaurant in the middle of Texas.
Part I: An Idea Takes Hold
In 1989, Paramount released the hit movie “Major League,” a baseball comedy. It didn’t take long before the studio would have another sports movie in mind. At the same time, two writers had a vision for a sports movie of their own.
David Fuller — Co-Writer of Necessary Roughness
Rick Natkin and I were pitching a football movie we loved a lot. We went to Paramount (in 1990) and met with studio executive Don Granger. He said, “You know. I like your idea for a football movie, but I like my idea for a football movie better. Would you be interested in writing it?” I said, “What’s the idea?”
He said, “There’s a 35 year old QB that hasn’t burned his eligibility, and comes to college to play for a team.” He said, “You can get a movie star for that.” So we said, because we wanted to work, “Sure!”
We took the concept and went off in October 1990. They wanted it quickly. We worked a story and pitched it before Thanksgiving. We then wrote the script between Thanksgiving and Christmas and had a green light by January 1, 1991. We went to Texas in April, finished shooting in June. And the movie was in theatres in September. So this movie was all done within one year, which is extremely unusual.
That aggressive timeline did present its share of challenges, including finding the right people to act as part of a large ensemble cast. Every football team needs a quarterback, and this movie had to find its leader.
Scott Bakula — Paul Blake (Texas State Quarterback)
I had an audition for it. They sent me the script and I liked the script a lot that David and Rick had written. I was shooting Quantum Leap at the time so I had to audition and do a screen test after work. They wanted to do this whole big thing at Paramount. Quantum was making some noise and I had a little attention on my career at that point, so it wasn’t far-fetched that I would be considered to play a lead in a Paramount film.
I had short hair at the time and I thought the character should have long hair. I had a left over hair piece, like with an extension in the back. So I went from no hair in the back to like 4 inches around the shoulders. I remember putting that on, doing the audition, reading for it on camera and doing a screen test. Then they said, “We need to see you throw a football.” So we went out in between sound stages at night on the Paramount lot and threw some footballs. I pretended that I was behind the center… I threw footballs and they videotaped that. We did that for way too long in the bowels of a deserted lot at Paramount at night.
Fuller: I believe John Terry (Dr. Christian Shephard in Lost) and Michael Biehn (Sgt. Kyle Reese in The Terminator) were also up for Scott’s role. Biehn would have brought a darker element to it.
Bakula: The whole thing went away for a while. They had me on hold. I had an offer in place pending this audition. Usually a 3 or 5 day window… you exercise the option or it goes away. So I said, OK, that’s the end of that and I forgot about it. Then they came back a while later and said now we like Scott. I’m not naive. They had someone else on the fence or lost somebody and ended up back to me.
The thing for me was that it cost them money. I made more, which is why they don’t want to tell you they like you and then let you go, then come back and say they like you but, “Can you do it for the same price as you were before a month ago?” It cost them not a lot of money but it was significant to me at that point in my career. So that’s how I landed in this thing.
Of course, football is a team sport, and there was no shortage of actors wanting to be a part of the project as well.
Fuller: In terms of casting, I think Necessary Roughness is the first movie to be a rainbow movie in terms of characters. We wanted the team to be representative of just about everybody, including female. The casting took some of that away. “Sargie” was meant to be black and “Samari” was supposed to be Asian. It was supposed to be more rainbow than it was. I think we were the first picture to embrace that.
Andy Lauer — Charlie Banks (Texas State Wide Receiver)
I was crazy about the story. I’m a big fan of sports… the underdog team, the guys that are full of heart and potential but just have no clue how to find it or figure it out.
Duane Davis — Featherstone (Texas State Wide Receiver)
It was a football movie which I was excited about and the possibility of putting pads and everything on again. That part was really cool. And it was with Paramount, which is a huge studio. Everything about it was exciting. (Davis would go on to play the role of Alvin Mack in 1993’s “The Program.”)
Drew Kahn — Popke (Texas State Backup Quarterback)
While I was in grad school in Dallas I had to make my own beer money, so I was doing a variety of jobs. I had an agent who would send me out on print or modeling jobs or the occasional industrial commercial, and this film came up. “Drew, you aren’t gonna believe this but there is this Paramount football film…” And I was like, sign me up! I can play football and can play better than most actors! I went to this workout… I made a couple of catches and probably looked like a better athlete than most. They called me back and said I made the cut. They had me read for a couple of roles. A few months later my agent said they have a new character. They created the role you now know as “Popke.” They asked, “Can you play a dork?” Yeah, I’m a trained actor. I can play anything. I dressed the part, put on glasses and they said, “You got it.”
Andrew Bryniarski — Wyatt Beaudry (Texas State Offensive Guard)
It was my second acting job. I had just done Hudson Hawk and was getting good reviews. I was 320 pounds and had to drop to 265 to be a believable college student. I remember going off Melrose, using my Screen Actors Guild credit card to buy a cowboy hat and a belt that said “Wyatt.” I went in there (for the audition) in character. I did a Texas accent and fooled the casting director Mindy Marin into thinking I was from Texas. Afterward I told her I wasn’t really from Texas. She was surprised and happy and I got the job. (Bryniarski would go on to play the role of Steve Lattimer in 1993’s “The Program.”)
Tom Whitenight — Harlan “Flat-top” Meyers (Texas Colts lineman)
I played football at UCLA from 1984-1988. They were looking for big guys as the extra staff for this movie. A friend of mine was an agent for the Kim Dawson Agency in Dallas. She said that I should go try for this. She said, “You’ll love it, your friends are doing it, go have fun.” I finally relented and the part I was originally reading for was the Kansas Jayhawks linebacker. He was the guy kicked in the groin by Kathy Ireland. The irony there was that I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, so it was an opportunity to play for Kansas. Stan Dragoti (the movie director) saw me and said, “You look like a big enough jerk, what about this other part.” And the rest is history.
Harley Jane Kozak — Dr. Suzanne Carter (Professor of Journalism at Texas State)
The casting director, Mindy Marin… We were social friends. She said that she wanted me to do this movie. She said it’s a football movie and she sent me the script through my agent, the late, great J.J. Harris. But all I remember was she said I have to do this movie. “Do you like it? Do you want to do it?” And at that point I had a couple of other things pending. I read the script and I was like, “Ehhh…. football….” The part wasn’t that interesting to me. I wasn’t sold.
Mindy said she was going to talk me into it. She said, “I’ll take you out Saturday night. I have tickets, front row center for Phantom of the Opera.” Well, I was the only person in the world that hadn’t seen Phantom of the Opera. Halfway thru the first act I thought, I’m going to die… I can’t even describe to you how much I hated this play. At intermission I said, “Mindy, if you let me go home right now and not come back for the second act, I’ll do the movie.” And she said, “Done.” And that’s how I ended up doing the movie.
Fuller: As a writer you have no control over casting, but you can make a suggestion here and there. We looked into having (NFL Hall of Fame linebacker) Dick Butkus as the defensive coach (Wally Riggendorf, played by Robert Loggia). Dick came in and tried out but didn’t get it. They were almost certainly right to go with Loggia. I love Butkus but we had stars in our eyes. In terms of acting they were probably right to go with Loggia.
If there was a breakout performance in this movie, it was the introduction of Peter Navy Tuiasosopo, the soft spoken “Runt of the Litter.” His path to the big screen was an unexpected one…
Peter Navy Tuiasosopo — Manumana the Slender (Texas State Lineman)
It was truly a miracle. When I got into acting it was probably 3-4 months before I booked Necessary Roughness. I didn’t even have head shots. I got a call from my uncle, the legendary stunt man Bob Apisa. He was very good friends with Allan Graff who was stunt coordinator for Necessary Roughness. They needed a Samoan for this role! At that time crashing calls was an actor’s technique to get in on a project that you weren’t invited. So I go to Paramount. I’m nobody. I walk in with jean shorts and a black t-shirt, some Jordans and socks.
Now, I’m not thinking about any lines. We watch enough football movies so you know they need guys to just play. That was the instruction I got. But the casting assistant says, “You know what you are reading for right?” Now I get nervous. She pulls out the script. “You are reading for Manumana.” Now I’m sweating. She says, “It’s a big part!”
Remember, I’ve never seen a script in this business at that point. She says to take my time, I have an hour. I said great… remember my confidence is clear though. I walk out of the room, go to the bathroom, sit down and I’m like, “&%*!. WHAT THE &%*!” So I am in the stall and I say, “God, I don’t know what I’m doing but please help me!”
I go in and read. I wouldn’t have given me the job. For someone’s first time reading dialog I guess I did ok. There was not one thought that I would even get called back or even considered. I’m going for the elevator and hear someone run out and it is Stan Dragoti. “Hey, Pete! Great job!” He says they want to see me on Monday. Monday comes and I do a test screening. I don’t even know what test screening means, but that means I’m up for the part. I test screen Tuesday too.
Wednesday comes. Now I’m like, come on, yes or no because this is killing me. I’m on my way to church and the phone rings in the house. 818 area code. LA call. I got the part.
Fuller: Pete wanted so much to play the part tough. He wanted to say all these tough things, kept wanting to change his lines. Finally at the beginning we said, “Pete, you don’t understand, you are going to be so popular because of the way you handle yourself. People are going to love you because they don’t expect it out of you.” He went, “Oh, I get it,” and then he was on board. We did that on purpose.
Tuiasosopo’s role allowed him to work in multiple scenes with supermodel Kathy Ireland (Texas State Kicker Lucy Draper). The two inexperienced actors provided some of the most memorable parts of the film.
Fuller: One of things I’m proudest of that didn’t get removed from the movie is that she is introduced upside down, through the legs of Manumana the Slender, as he is going to hike the ball for her to kick. That way you kept all the 12 year old boys from barking and you get a laugh out of it. Her introduction is upside down. And I think that helps her character because she becomes not a sex object but a character in the movie. So I was very happy with that.
Tuisasosopo: Shower scene. The production guys… I hear them talking. “Is this PG or R!” Guys are guys after all. Because of the way I am and was raised I’m very respectful. Remember me and Kathy were chummy all these weeks. Anyway, Stan says, “All the actors except Manu get out.” Jason Bateman (Texas State Running Back Jarvis Edison) was like, WTF! Stan said, “We need minimal guys for lighting.” Then there’s five guys grabbing one light! All the actors called me lucky. When Kathy’s parts were done in the movie she left me a package at the hotel. It was a signed 8×10 that said, “You will always be my Manu. Love, Kathy.” Mind you my wife is a 5’5″ white girl, like Kathy. When I got back I forgot it was in my suitcase. I got home and she had it unpacked. She goes, “What is this?” Before I can answer she rips it in half!
Bryniarski: You gotta mention Kathy Ireland’s dirty bathroom jokes in the van on the way to the set. That definitely broke the ice. She was cast very tender and cool to work with, which nobody thought she would be. We were worried the supermodel would be a queen bitch. Instead she was refreshing and funny as hell.
Part II: Are You Ready For Some Football?
Most of the movie would be shot on the campus of North Texas University in Denton, about an hours drive northwest of Dallas. This required most of the cast to relocate for three months. For some, there would be an adjustment period.
Kozak: I’m a vegetarian. And some of the local people said I need to go to the local vegetarian restaurant. So Hawk (Howard W. Koch Jr., Executive Producer) and I go. Well, they have a long list of vegetables and they are all deep fried. And I said, “Do you have anything that is not deep fried?” She said that would be the “vegetable du jour.” I asked what that would be and she said mac and cheese. There was nothing vegetarian about this restaurant except that they had a lot of vegetables. And that’s when I knew I was a long way from Los Angeles.
Things don’t always go smoothly when making a movie. Actually, the long trip to the Lone Star State was almost for naught.
Fuller: One of things that happened is that Paramount wasn’t sure they were going to make the movie. We were already in Texas, prepping, had the cast there, and they were still on the fence about whether they were going to do it or not. They sent a comedy writer out. His name was Harvey Miller, who co-wrote and produced Private Benjamin. Harvey had been around forever. A punch up guy… funny as hell and a sweet guy. He was great. But of course I’m a young guy… so proud to have my movie made that I don’t understand… Why is he here! Why is here re-writing us! I was upset he was re-writing. He was there to put in jokes so we could do a reading. They brought together the cast for a roundtable reading and they recorded it and Paramount executives came in to listen to it. Harvey’s jokes were huge. After that, they decided to make the movie. And then they decided to pull a lot of the jokes out because they didn’t fit, but many still stayed in the movie. Some of best laugh lines of the movie. Like, “Wally did you get me an assistant without my permission?” “No, but I got you a quarterback.” “I hope he gets younger as he gets closer.” That’s pure Harvey. It’s a great line.
The movie takes us to fictional Texas State University, as a once proud football program is reborn following heavy NCAA sanctions. (Ironically enough, Southwest Texas State, one of the teams that the Fighting Armadillos play in the movie, would change its name to Texas State in real life years later.) It isn’t a stretch to see the comparisons between TSU and SMU, which received the NCAA’s “death penalty” in 1987.
In some sports movies the athletic plays themselves leave something to be desired. Allan Graff took the football scenes seriously, and it showed on screen. Everyone did their part to make the football scenes look as real as possible.
Kahn: They were very specific about us looking like we knew what we were doing, but we also had some freedom because we were like The Bad News Bears. Particularly my character… I tried to tell people that I dumbed down my athletic talent. They were very specific. Experts were on set very football specific making sure to work with Scott, the linemen, the guys playing a lot. I was impressed how specific they were. The guys on the other team were all good players at Division I, Division II levels. They were all athletes and NFL Films guys shot the plays. There were so many cameras there getting the slo-mo spirals.
Whitenight: They asked if I wanted a stunt double. I said no, I played the game for years and I kinda know what to do. They asked Bakula and he said, “I want to do the games. I’ll play.” Everything you saw him do on screen, he did, which was impressive because he was getting beat up a little bit.
Bakula: I’ve always been athletic so whatever I was hired to do I was gonna do. Then I got hurt the very first day. Pretty sure I tore or separated some rotator elements in my right shoulder on the first blindside tackle. That happened on first day of shooting from the two linemen that hit me and landed on my shoulder. I could hear little violin strings plucking in my shoulder and I thought that’s probably not a good sign. That’s not a good noise. So the rest of the movie I had ice on my shoulder. The first pass I did throw from scrimmage in the movie in front of everyone… everyone on the sidelines was quacking like a duck because the pass looked like a lame duck. It wobbled and teetered there.
Marcus Giamatti — Sargie Wilkinson (Texas State Fullback)
I did most myself. I believed that was a better way to do it. When we got there, for the first week and a half we had football practice. It was a lot of work, memorizing the playbook so we knew what we were doing. I came out with a broken rib and bent up finger.
Davis: Funny story. During Necessary Roughness I had actually pulled a hamstring. They brought in a guy to double me and he was playing in the CFL at the time. Allan would always get guys that had either just gotten cut from NFL or just stopped playing college football, and I’m talking at the Division I level.
Whitenight: The worst part for me was the last scene in the movie when my facemask gets ripped off and Pete blows me up. I’m not sure if Allan Graff was just deriving a sick pleasure from it or not but I think we did that shot 13 times. He went to USC so I think he was punishing me a little bit. We kept doing it and that was the best acting I did because I had to act like Pete wasn’t gonna blow me up because it was an earhole shot every time he hit me. It was terrible.
Part III: A Learning Curve
There was an interesting combination in this film of seasoned actors and those still finding their place in the business. Younger actors were wise to pay close attention to how Scott Bakula, Hector Elizondo (Texas State Head Coach Ed Gennero) and Robert Loggia did things…
Giamatti: I learned so much from those 3 guys… I can’t tell you how much I learned. At the time it takes you a while to get it, observing and learning. I worked with all 3 of them. I originally auditioned at wide receiver, then they put me at fullback and we really were playing football! Behind the quarterback they wanted someone that was a rooted, grounded actor. I learned so much from Bakula about how to find the camera and relax. Then he became a friend and hired me on Quantum Leap. I still remember it all. You can’t help but learn a lot. Hector Elizondo? Incredible.
Kahn: I remember first time in dailies. The scene when Hector pulled Scott because he didn’t call the play he wanted. “Popke, you’re in…” and there is that big closeup, right? I sat with Bakula, who has a huge theatre background. He took me under his wing. “That first take, the attack of the eyebrow… you’re doing too much.” He gave me good input about letting camera do the work. That to me was rewarding, sitting with an actor of his caliber, who took time to share his knowledge. Hector and Robert were really open too. Actors like that with strong theatre background don’t often get the chance to talk about their art on Hollywood sets. So when I told them I was at the end of grad school they opened their theatre history to me. Those experiences were much more important to me than opening night or seeing the film.
Tuiasosopo: Samoans are quiet and calm… real reserved. I didn’t let it out but I was flipping out inside… I’d see every day a new guy coming in. I’d see Hector, then Robert, all these guys. Not one guy was less impressive as next. I was humble and amazed.
Bryniarski: I would do Scarface quotes to Loggia who would act like he had never seen the film. I learned from guys all the time. The only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask because you thought it was stupid. I was taught an immense amount. Guys that knew what they were doing set the bar for us young actors. Gives you a level… you watch and try to be as good or funny or interesting as they were. The confidence… I was blessed to have guys that knew what they were doing.
Fuller: We are on the football field. They are making torrential rain and shooting the scene in the huddle. It’s 3am and they’ve finished with Scott Bakula and he can go home. And he says, “No, I’m staying to feed lines to the other characters. They will have a better performance if I give them the lines rather than the script girl.” He stayed the entire time, in the rain, in his uniform, soaking wet, feeding lines to other actors. That’s the kind of guy he is. He doesn’t think twice about it. He wants the piece to be good. That’s how he handles it.
Part IV: Welcome the pros to Texas State
One of the most memorable scenes in the movie happens when Texas State Dean Phillip Elias (Larry Miller) sets up a scrimmage with inmates from the local prison. The inmates happened to be famous professional athletes. Jim Kelly, Jerry Rice, Tony Dorsett… just a few of the pros that made their way to North Texas for the weekend.
Giamatti: That was such a kick… It was unbelievable working with them. (Former Dallas Cowboy) Ed “Too Tall” Jones was one of nicest guys ever.
Fuller: We had written a much more involved scene and Stan said, “I’m a bit worried… let’s simplify it.” I understood because we had a lot to accomplish in a short period of time. We had a scene where Jerry Rice went for a long ball in a convict suit and kept running and the guards go after him. Things like that. I’m pretty sure we didn’t know who we could get… it as a really entertaining weekend. We were from Chicago and Dick Butkus was our hero. He was there that weekend and was wonderful.
Kahn: That was one of the greatest weekends of my life. Honestly? I could care less about celebrity actors. I was interested in perfecting my craft. I was never nervous to talk to guys like Robert Loggia, Hector Elizondo, Scott Bakula… but when the NFL guys came in? I was like a kid in a candy store. Herschel Walker… we would get these incredible lunch lines and he would have these Ziploc bags and just be eating raw vegetables.
Bryniarski: I got matched up with (NFL Hall of Famer) Randy White. Randy was a character. He didn’t want to just “act” the part as a football player in a movie. He read the scene as a chance to kick this guy’s head in. He proceeded to go pretty live with me. Honestly I almost shot him in the @*&%#$! face after that @*&%#$! day. I didn’t get much sympathy from Allan Graff, who became a good friend. He thought Randy was a God and I should do what I am told. Meanwhile I’m getting my jersey pulled over my head and knees to the head to the point I almost lost consciousness. I almost shot Randy before it was over. That would have taken my career in a different direction I’m sure.
Jim Kelly — Former Buffalo Bills Quarterback and NFL Hall of Famer (Convict Football Player)
That’s not our profession, and when you get the opportunity to do something like that it was like, “Ok yeah! Cool! Sounds good to me!” I remember it was a lot of fun and to get to really see some pros at work and to be amongst the guys you play in the same profession with. I remember going into the locker room and having some cold beers which was probably the best part about it! It was a lot of fun… it was a blast.
Giamatti: We were doing this movie… working, with all us young guys together at once. We’ve still got that youthful exuberance and then we’re hanging in Dallas with famous Hall of Fame athletes. For me? I never did anything else like that. It was crazy! We had wild times.
Tuiasosopo: Evander Holyfield and Jim Kelly order these limos during the night. We go to the club. People were thinking I was the bodyguard. We are walking in with all these guys. Women are throwing themselves at all the pros. We walk in there and we are having a blast. Everyone knows I don’t drink. But Jim is buying rounds and there were 15 of us!
Bakula: You come in at 5pm, put your pads on and then take them off at 5 in the morning. I was a lot younger then but the guys were going out at 5am and they were like, “We are going out!” And I was like, “Have fun fellas.” They were doing that crazy stuff and I was trying to stay healthy and get enough sleep to continue on day after day.
Part V: What Might Have Been
Necessary Roughness opened in theatres on September 27, 1991. According to IMDb.com, the estimated budget for the movie was $13.5 million and it earned a gross of $26,255,594. Still, some of those involved believe it might have made a bigger splash had it not been for factors beyond their control.
Fuller: All projections were that Necessary Roughness would be a big breakthrough. It was a stretch of time that it was a bad summer and the fall was worse. They thought we’d do well but it didn’t do as well as expected. We got some very good reviews and some, “Oh dear it’s the same old thing.” The review I thought was closest to reality was Roger Ebert. He called it, “Warm hearted.” I wrote what I thought should be in the movie. He caught it. It is a friendly little movie. I’m fond of it. I like the movie. Rick and I had a sequel lined up in our heads, but the movie didn’t make enough money at that time. It did not open number 1 because The Fisher King opened on a Thursday and got that extra day. They got in front of us.
Bakula: We didn’t make piles of money but in those days it was a pretty decent box office. I always argue with myself that it was released at the wrong time. It should have been released before football started when people were looking for football, as opposed to when football had started and people could get it every Saturday and Sunday. I always had a bit of a bone to pick about that but it performed well.
Fuller: The original name for this movie was The Fighting Armadillos. To this day, (co-writer) Rick Natkin will fight anyone who doesn’t think that is a better name. Paramount bought the rights to a book called Necessary Roughness just to be able to use that name. I also think The Fighting Armadillos was a better title.
Giamatti: To be honest I was disappointed it didn’t do better at the time. It did fine. The irony is that it did better later on, and is now an iconic sports movie. Now everyone knows what it is…
Part VI: Recognition factor
Thanks in large part to long runs on cable, and later on Netflix, some of the actors are remembered for their roles in Necessary Roughness as much as anything else they have done in their professional lives.
Lauer: I’ll be in airports or at a ballgame or at a museum or something, and someone will be looking at me funny or odd and I’ll say, I wonder what this is going to be… and they come up and they say, “Charlie Banks?” And I say, “Hey… my name is Andy… but you are talking about Necessary Roughness. “That’s one of my favorite films of all time! You caught that pass! You won the game!” It’s absolutely flattering. Lucky me that I got to play that role and that I got to affect that person’s life in a good way, a positive way. That there is a small correlation of happiness with seeing me… if I can spark some sort of good feeling, then lucky me! I take it as an opportunity and a compliment.
Kozak: I have no bad memories of that movie at all. And that says something. Making movies can be a stressful and bad experience. But it was nothing but a pleasure making that film. I have met people that say, “Oh my God! You were in my favorite movie!” And I think they are gonna say Parenthood or When Harry Met Sally or Arachnophobia… but no, they say Necessary Roughness. It has happened more times than I can count. But I never gave it any thought as to why that is. Maybe because they love football? But there are a lot of football movies out there…
Whitenight: I just had a guy send me a copy of the movie asking me to sign it for a friend of his. It doesn’t happen all the time. When I travel to Texas it is more prevalent down there than other areas of the country because the movie was filmed down there.
Bryniarski: I remember meeting Dr. Dre at Gold’s Gym way after the film. I was introduced to him and the first words he said to me were, “40 yards…” “How far did she kick it?” “40 yards…” which was his favorite line in the movie. That got me to visit him when he was editing and producing “Chronic 2000” (album later titled “2001”) in the studio. We hung out and spent time all because he was a fan of Necessary Roughness and my unforgettable line, “40 yards…”
Tuiasosopo: The biggest thing I tell my kids is to be kind to people. Anytime someone says it, I smile. Just a day before there was another fan. I came out of church, these guys were walking by and he stopped my car in the parking lot… he comes out, asks to take picture, I say “No problem.” There’s not a moment I don’t appreciate it. Not just as an actor but a person to give a moment. I’m grateful for that Necessary Roughness role. I’m humbled. That was my first work and it started it all.
Part VII: Lasting Impact
It is now 2016, which marks almost 25 years since Necessary Roughness first hit theatres. Even after all this time, the movie has stuck around the public consciousness, especially for football fans. But why?
Whitenight: I think America loves an underdog and Texas State was that. Perfect for SMU if you look at what was happening at the time. People like to see that team have success. It’s a feel good movie. It’s a goofy movie and it makes them laugh.
Kahn: I think it addresses a wide variety of themes that are important to people. Like the chumps, the guys that aren’t the best, that can make things right. It’s about this guy that gave away his dream to go to the farm and come back. So many powerful, mythological things that they did well. I don’t think it was intentional. I think they were trying to make a football comedy and it certainly has struck cords. I don’t have the reason. I don’t know why. I’m a theatre professor and I don’t know why. But I’m really proud of it.
Bryniarski: I have no idea other than people in this country love football and escapism and comedy and it was The Bad News Bears of college football.
Kozak: There was something so innocent about that movie. And also it had to do with Scott’s character. It really takes something for a guy older than everyone else to go back to school and to be on the team. It’s kinda goofy but there’s something very sweet about it.
Bakula: It’s that kind of “bro” movie, or whatever you want to call it. Anyone that has played on a team, doesn’t have to be a sports team, it can be at work… you are surrounded by different characters. This band of misfits is just fun. We just see people working together under a common goal. It’s that kind of universal theme that people respond to. And we did it as a group. There were just lots of elements. The coaching and dealing with a female on the team and then the real relationship romance with the dumb jock and the teacher… All the good stuff they captured? A lot of it made it into the movie and that doesn’t always happen.
Lauer: Yes, that’s a universal story. That’s a story that transcends time, you see? It is not about green aliens and that kind of mumbo jumbo. It is a universal story that appealed to people 25 years ago, appeals to people today, and will appeal to people 25 years from now.