Trouble with Curve: Interview with Amy Adams
Unlike Gus, the career of his daughter Mickey is on the rise, She’s an associate competing for a coveted slot as a partner at her law firm. “Mickey and Gus have a lot in common,” Adams states. “They’re two people who focus on their work to keep from having to focus on anything else. She learned from the best; she keeps really busy so that she doesn’t have to explore the deeper, emotional side of herself.”
Despite her reluctance, Mickey takes it upon herself to look out for Gus, joining him on his latest scouting trip, hoping to be his eyes on the field. However, Eastwood notes, “He doesn’t want anybody to help him, because he equates that with them feeling sorry for him, which he can’t stand. He especially doesn’t want Mickey there because he doesn’t think it’s a healthy atmosphere for a young woman, even though she was around it a lot when she was growing up and knows the game very well. He’s also afraid she’ll catch on to what’s really wrong with him.”
Adams observes, “I think Mickey views going to North Carolina to help her dad as potentially her last chance to connect with him, and to convince him to start taking care of himself. But it’s hard for her because she doesn’t know how to communicate with him. They don’t talk, they argue. And she’s no more comfortable taking care of him than he is being taken care of. This time together could be a game changer, one way or another.”
Lorenz says, “Mickey’s got so much going on in her life at the start of this story—she’s on the verge of achieving her career goals, her relationship with her boyfriend is at a crossroads, and then she learns her father’s livelihood is in jeopardy. It’s a perfect storm of life events that forces her to re-examine what matters to her.”
The director adds that he was eager to work with Adams, noting, “Amy embodies the characters she plays so well. I also had a sense she’d be a good match for Clint, that she could stand up to him on screen, which she had to do…a lot.”
Adams was drawn to the script, and even more to the opportunity to work alongside Eastwood. “Working with Clint was amazing,” she confirms. “He is truly a legend, so to share the screen with him was an honor.”
“Amy was a joy to work with,” says Eastwood, who was equally impressed with Adams’ skills on the diamond. “Mickey’s a girl who was raised on baseball, and one thing I admired about Amy is that she can sprint like a guy, wind up and throw a ball like a guy, and take a real swing with a bat. So she was perfect for the part of a woman who isn’t an athlete, but who grew up around a sport, who has it in her blood.”
Gus isn’t Mickey’s only sparring partner on this trip. She also has to wrestle long distance with both her boyfriend and her bosses, and fight her own developing feelings for another scout, Johnny Flanagan, played by Timberlake.
“I think Johnny is the character who looks at situations most honestly, and thus is the catalyst in forcing Mickey and Gus to face their issues,” Lorenz notes. “He is a warm, likeable, energetic, charming guy, all of which can be said of Justin as well. He and Amy are both such good actors and had so much fun with their scenes together that the relationship between their characters seemed to come naturally.”
Timberlake says that the atmosphere Lorenz fostered on set enabled the actors to better define those relationships. “Amy and I were able to establish really good chemistry between the two characters, which I think is a testament to Rob. He was completely all-knowing of the story we were telling, and what was right and what was interesting about each character.”
A former pro pitcher, nicknamed The Flame for his 100-mile-per-hour fastball, Johnny’s career was cut short, and he has turned to scouting…for now. Timberlake reveals, “The first time we see him, he’s on the side of the road, watching a bunch of kids in a pick-up game and speaking into a recorder, giving the play-by-play. It’s an early hint that, now that his career as a player is over, he’s honing his chops, hoping to get into broadcasting.”
The actor drew on his own experiences “calling” games. “When I was a kid, I used to mimic the announcers, trying to replicate that rhythm and charisma they have. It’s an audio-only performance so you really have to connect to your audience—the fans—because you’re narrating a part of life that they’re so passionate about.”
It was Gus, in fact, who brought Johnny up to “the show” when he pitched for the Braves. Now, Gus and Johnny, who’s scouting for the Red Sox, are both looking to add Gentry to their respective teams. In spite of their presumed rivalry, Gus still acts as something of a mentor to the younger man, who even picks up a few pointers from Mickey.
Mickey didn’t learn everything she knows from her dad, though—she spent her youth around Gus’s old pals in the business, as well. One such friend, Pete Klein, is, in part, the reason why she’s in North Carolina.
Cast in the role, John Goodman says, “Pete’s the chief of scouts for the Braves, so he’s in charge of the guys who go out in the field to spot the talent. He goes to the mat for Gus, because, as cranky as Gus is, Pete loves him, and he appreciates that he has almost a sixth sense when it comes to his job.”
And because he knows Gus well enough to know when something’s not right with him, Pete turns to Mickey. “She’s got a pretty good eye for baseball herself; she’s definitely her father’s daughter. Pete tries to persuade her—guilt her, if that’s what it takes—to go and help her dad out,” he concedes.
According to Michele Weisler, “Pete is the guardian angel of the piece. He’s Gus’s best friend, his ally, his supporter, and Mickey is very dear to him as well. His presence has to be felt throughout the film, even though he’s back in Atlanta, so having someone of John’s stature in the role was so important.”
Even though Pete is on Gus’s side, certain members of the organization are trying to push him, and those like him, out of the bleachers, to make way for a new age of scouting: number crunchers. Phillip Sanderson, played by Matthew Lillard, leads the charge.
“Phil is definitely new school,” Lillard says. “He follows the stats online, essentially working at the opposite end of the spectrum from guys like Gus and Pete. So when he hears about an up-and-comer like Bo Gentry, who everyone knows can change the landscape of an organization, he doesn’t want to wait for old men like Gus to go look at him. He just wants to go by the numbers in front of him.”
Hot hitter Bo Gentry is played by newcomer Joe Massingill in his feature film debut. And Lorenz, in collaboration with casting director Geoff Miclat, brought in a string of heavy hitters to round out the “Trouble with the Curve” cast, including Robert Patrick as Atlanta Braves General Manager Vince Freeman; Ed Lauter, Chelcie Ross and Ray Anthony Thomas as fellow scouts; and George Wyner, Bob Gunton and Jack Gilpin as high-powered lawyers in Mickey’s firm. Eastwood also shares the screen with son Scott Eastwood, who plays Billy Clark, one of Gus’s discoveries, who’s now in a slump.
To ensure a sense of realism on the playing field, Lorenz also hired baseball coordinator Aimee McDaniel to help organize, choreograph and rehearse the athletes, and train the actors to look like players, even Amy Adams.
McDaniel recalls, “We worked with Amy for four or five days, and by the end of that time, she looked like she’d been catching baseballs her whole life. To have an actress of that caliber just throw herself into something like that made my job easy. And the rest of the cast was equally devoted.”
“Aimee came to Georgia and basically recruited all the different teams and help we needed,” Lorenz attests. “She did a great job, so that was one aspect of production I didn’t have to worry about. Everybody knew what they were doing and they were all good players…or at least looked like they were.”
The behind-the-scenes creative team was led by Academy Award®-nominated director of photography Tom Stern (“The Changeling”); Academy Award®-nominated production designer James J. Murakami, (“The Changeling”); editor Gary D. Roach and Oscar®-winning editor Joel Cox (“Unforgiven”); and costume designer Deborah Hopper. The music was composed by Oscar®-nominated composer Marco Beltrami (“The Hurt Locker”).
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