Are you ready for some football? Though the NFL and college seasons haven’t officially begun, you can get a taste of the sport in the new family friendly film “The Longshots,” starring Ice Cube and Keke Palmer, starting this weekend in theaters nationwide.
The film tells the true story of a young girl who becomes the first female to quarterback a team into the Pop Warner football championships.
“I play a guy named Curtis Plummer who’s really down and out,” Cube described. “He’s given up in a lot of ways. His mother died a couple years ago and now all he does is hang out in the park, drinking, and reminiscing about the good ol’ days. Through taking care of his niece, giving him some responsibility as well as the game of football, it kind of brings him back from the dead to being a self-respecting man.”
“They make a connection,” Palmer continued, “and that’s how they both come together.”
Both actors told reporters that the thing that drew them to the film was the fact that it’s a true story. “The Longshots” is based on the actual real story of Jasmine Plummer who, at the age of eleven, became the first female to play in Pop Warner football tournament in its 56-year history.
“That is really what makes this worth making a movie about. Anybody can make believe something like this. We’ve seen ‘Princess Quarterback’ back in the day,” Cube said, drawing on the 1983 film that starred a young Helen Hunt, “but this is true story about real people. Football is just really the backdrop of this movie. This movie is about two people getting themselves off the deck, building their self-esteem back and in the process, building their community back.”
Palmer agreed that the real-life story was a draw, but added that she was excited about working with Ice Cube again. She starred in “Barbershop 2” with the rap/film star.
“Those two things made me want to be a part of it,” she said, “especially because it was so inspiring – a young girl going to the National Pop Warner championship on an all-male football team. That is a story that needs to be told and I wanted to be a part of that.”
The two also reflected on their own true-to-life long shot stories. Both explained that pursuing their careers was a major long shot for them.
“It’s been a long shot to make it in the rap game,” Cube admitted. He explained that being a West Coast rapper at a time when rap was dominated by the East was a major gamble.
“And going from doing that to making a movie like this and being accepted, and it being now normal and not such a novelty thing – that’s a long shot.”
Palmer and her family put a lot on the line for her career, too.
“I’m originally from Chicago and my whole family drove four days and three nights to California to help me with acting. I definitely think that was a long shot.”
Still, another long shot for the two was casting the film. Cube, along with director Fred Durst (yes, that Fred Durst, founder of the Nu Metal band Limp Bizkit), were glad to have Palmer in the cast, but were initially concerned about her athletic prowess. Palmer admitted she knew very little about the game of football.
“I knew a bit about it, because my dad watches it, but I wasn’t a huge fan of it or anything like that,” Palmer said of going in for the project. “So I went out to Louisiana where they filmed the movie, I was coming in fresh learning [everything] I could about the sport. I got the mechanics and got my feet down and everything came together.”
“Once I knew Keke could do it, I was very relieved,” Cube said of securing the actress’ availability. “I knew the acting would be perfect, but I was a little worried about if she could throw the football or not. Once I got to Louisiana and we went out on the field, I told her to show me what she’s got and she threw a spiral right between the numbers and I said, ‘Looks like we got a movie here.’”
Palmer wasn’t the only one to do a little research and adaptation for her role. Cube said that he reflected on some people he’d known to help him develop the initial defeatist attitude of his character.
“I know people who have given up on life. So I drew from the guys I would see not hanging out, not really having any plans for their future,” he said. “I drew on that more than the real guy. We just wanted to have a guy, take him from the bottom and give him purpose, and put him back on top.”
“The Longshots” opens today in theaters everywhere. Check the official website at http://www.thelongshots-movie.com. Look for Keke Palmer in her new Nickelodeon series, “True Jackson, VP” coming this fall and new projects with Ice Cube, including the rumored “A Team” movie.