Ivan Reitman is directing Summit's NFL-themed movie, which co-stars Jennifer Garner
ESPN was given a behind-the-scenes look at Summit Entertainment's "Draft Day," which stars Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner and Denis Leary. The trio dished on the upcoming movie, which is directed by Ivan Reitman of "Ghostbusters" fame.
Costner plays Sonny Weaver Jr., the fictional GM of the Cleveland Browns, who is tasked with rebuilding the underachieving team through the NFL Draft.
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"We're trying to make it authentic and Cleveland has a real story," said Costner.
"That's part of what works for our storyline, that Cleveland has struggled a bit in the past and they're rebuilding their team right now," added Garner, whose character manages the team's salary cap.
The featured team in "Draft Day" was originally supposed to be the Buffalo Bills but Cleveland ended up making more sense for the story.
"What's really interesting is how important the Cleveland Browns are to the city of Cleveland despite their sort of repeated failure. I think it almost makes them more special, that every draft day is a new opportunity," explained Reitman.
Leary, who is a devoted Boston sports fan, knows the pain of rooting for a franchise that rarely tastes victory.
"I grew up waiting for the Boston Red Sox to win a championship. I grew up waiting for the Patriots to even just have a winning season. I know that horrible feeling where people that are from other teams actually have sympathy for you, which I hate. So I have a real sympathy for the Browns fans," said Leary.
The nearly five-minute feature offers a sneak peek at a scene in which Leary's Coach Penn lights the team's exhaustive draft analysis on fire.
"I'm Coach Penn, who is the star of the movie and the main character and the person with whom the audience is going to sympathize most," joked Leary. "The movie involves a power struggle between Kevin Costner's character and mine about who's really in control and who knows more about football."
ESPN's sneak peek features a juicy dialogue exchange between Costner and Leary's characters.
After Coach Penn asks his GM to keep him in the loop because he feels like they're not on the same page, Sonny responds with bite: "There is no loop. There's me doing my job and you doing your job."
"I think when sports movies work at their best there's a level of vulgarity that goes with the poetry. Because that's what sports is. We can curse our team but you can't. We can curse our sport but you can't," explained Costner, who could fill a stadium with fans of his previous sports movies "Field of Dreams," "Bull Durham" and "Tin Cup."
Leary was particularly impressed with the passion that local fans brought to the Cleveland shoot.
"There's a scene where my character goes out to his car on draft day morning and he gets inundated by fans. People had their faces painted and there was a big RV that had been turned into a dog bone with a Browns helmet on it. So after the first take I was like, "so do you guys get a lot of work in town?" They were like, "what are you talking about?" and I was like "Well, you're all actors right?" and they're like "No, we're Browns fans" I was like "Oh my God!"
Reitman perhaps summed it up best. "The draft is a fascinating experience and most people think of it as that show on television once a year, but really that's just a surface product. Really, what's going on in the draft is everything in war rooms, 32 of them across the country," said the director.
Leary is hoping audiences will huddle up in theaters when Summit releases "Draft Day" next year.
"We've spent a lot of time and a lot of detail and a lot of work on the football scenes but that doesn't mean anything if we don't pull it off. Hopefully Kevin and myself and Jennifer have done a good enough job, for the audience will judge whether we did that correctly or not."
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