Resurrecting the Champ cuts a little close to the bone for journalists. Trying to make a name for himself, the film's protagonist (Josh Hartnett) profiles a homeless boxer (Samuel L. Jackson) and gets into heaps of trouble with his reporting. Alan Alda plays the editor who brings the hammer down. Even before things get deep, he's a hard man to please.
Alan Alda on Resurrecting the Champ
"I remember sitting in the scene once with Josh, that opening scene where I let him have it," said Alda. "I remember being a producer talking to writers and trying my damnedest to get them to be at their best. It's the hardest thing to do. And I would be as rough on them as this guy was, but when I looked him in the eye and I said, 'You can do better,' I remembered what it felt like on my end of it to not know how or just be at a loss. I'm talking to somebody who's capable of better and isn't doing it. That's a very difficult thing to get somebody to dip down into their insides, because a lot of people who are capable of going there get used to skimming the surface, and they feel it's going fine."
Alda believes his character means well and sees potential in the young writer, though it may seem like he's just being a hardass. "I think he thinks there is something in him, but I don't think he has time to coach him. It's also a little bit, if you're talking to somebody who's addicted to something, and in a way this guy is addicted to his superficiality, if he's capable of getting out of it, he's got to want to. You can't do the motivation for him. So you say, 'Do it if you want, do whatever you want to do, but you can do better.' It's tough, but it may be the only thing you can say to some people."
Resurrecting the Champ
The film is based on an article by J.R. Moehringer, though fictionalized for the film. Therefore, this is only a version of Moehringer's editor. "I have no idea if this was in any way based on Moehringer's real editor. My guess is it wasn't, that somebody invented this character for the purpose of telling the story the way they tell it. I mean, I met the guy. I met Moehringer after we made the movie when we were at Sundance, and he seemed very happy with the whole thing."
When it comes to the issue of journalistic ethics, most actors take a humorous approach to getting misquoted frequently. Alda questioned the whole process of reproducing interviews.
"I wonder if everybody isn't quoted out of context. I just got used to that, because I'm not running for office or anything. People will have a tape recorder and so hear exactly what you say, but then when they get home, they jam together a few quotes into the same sentence that create an impression that you wouldn't have created if you were asked to say them. But that doesn't put me at odds with them. It's just people do get misquoted."
Sorry, Alan. Hope I didn't mess you up too much. Resurrecting the Champ opens Friday.
Resurrecting the Champ opens to theaters August 24th.
For the trailer, poster and more movie info, go to the Resurrecting the Champ Movie Page.