Gracie is the dramatic story of a girl trying to play soccer on the boys' team in the '70s, when there was no such thing as girls' soccer. It's even based on the true story of actress and producer Elisabeth Shue, though her struggles weren't quite as dramatic as those teenaged Gracie faces.
Elisabeth Shue on Gracie
"I played when I was a little bit younger," said Shue. "When I first started, I was nine, but the first day I showed up on the field, a mean little boy came up and stole my ball saying girls can’t play soccer. I, of course, did not have the fighting spirit of Gracie so I cried and ran off the field. And my father was there and he marched me back out into the middle of the field. Coach C stopped the game and said, 'Boys and girls will play soccer and that’s enough of this silliness.' So I was lucky that that moment sort of established my right to play and he was the head of the soccer league."
In Gracie, she must first win her father's approval and then appeal the school board to join the team, not to mention put up with beatings by the guys. "The reality of what it’s like to be the only girl on a soccer team is very intense. You have a lot to live up to and I was always really nervous. I fought really hard. I was actually kind of more aggressive than the boys because I wanted to prove that I belonged there and I was proud of every slide tackle and kick them in certain places they don’t like to be kicked. But yeah, I definitely felt the tension of it every game for four years."
The film became a Shue family project, with Elisabeth and brother Andrew producing and Elisabeth's husband Davis Guggenheim directing. "I think that we were really blessed that Davis Guggenheim, my husband, was the director because that changed everything. We completely and utterly trusted him and his talent and also his love of our family. And because he was the one who wanted it to be so real and so authentic, we just pretty much said, `You’re our leader.' At the same time, we’re all very opinionated and have very strong views of what we wanted to accomplish in the movie as well, so on the best days, it was just great, great, great creative conflict and all of us giving our views and communicating really well and fighting for what we believed in all in the spirit of love. On the worse days, we were back in our home and fighting it out on the side yard."
In real life, Shue turned to acting by the time she was a teenager, but her coach always thought she would have the potential of Gracie. "Coach C, the coach in the film is based this guy [who said] that I would be the first girl to play on a boy’s varsity if I continued. Like many teenagers at that age, I was 13, I was very vulnerable to what other people thought of me and I was developing into a woman, my body was changing, and I felt that I cared too much about what other people would think of me being the only girl out there and it’s something I really regret. I did go on to play JV on the Harvard girl’s soccer team which I thought was a huge accomplishment and to see how girls had grown as soccer players from when I was playing and didn’t even want to play with girls, didn’t think that could be a challenge to only four years later couldn’t make the girls varsity soccer team at Harvard."
Gracie is out in theaters now.
For the trailer, interviews, poster and more movie info, go to the Gracie Movie Page.
Stay tuned for updates.