No one can replace Hollywood star Tom Hanks, of whom actress Kelly McCormack is certain.
Yet in the new TV series “A League of Their Own,” the Vancouver native was given a task almost as stressful as impersonating Hanks: saying one of his most iconic catchphrases.
“There’s no crying in baseball!”
The five words are mourned by Hanks in the 1992 sports comedy, as he plays alcoholic manager Jimmy Duggan who belittles his ragtag team of female baseball players all the way to the World Series.
In Amazon’s substantially revamped episodic remake, which debuts Friday on Prime Video, McCormack’s character says the exact same words in a different context. His version is kind of a factual mic drop, featuring his character – a shortstop for the Rockford Peaches from Moose Jaw, Sask. – dropping the statement before walking away from his team.
“I was thrilled and excited — and then I was immediately terrified,” McCormack said upon hearing she would be reciting the famous quote.
“My strategy was just to say it; don’t try to immerse yourself in some kind of Tom Hanks homage.
McCormack is still nervous about how her performance will be received. Prior to the show’s release, she says she asked the few people who saw the episode if they thought her delivery was working.
The tweak is one of many curveballs in a reboot that throws off the original film’s playbook.
While the film and TV series are based on the real All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), the TV version of “A League of Their Own” goes in a different direction by featuring important characters, introducing new , and taking place over an eight-episode arc that mostly takes place off the pitch.
The extra runtime allows co-creator and lead actress Abbi Jacobson, formerly of “Broad City,” to explore narratives about race and gender identity in the 1940s, while allocating more time screen to a queer culture that existed in the shadow of women’s baseball. crew.
Historical accounts have detailed romantic relationships between some players that have been kept hidden.
Women’s baseball teams were subject to strict presentation rules. They could not be seen in pants and were not allowed to smoke. The league has lived by the motto “Play like a man, look like a woman”.
During a recent panel at the Tribeca Film Festival, Maybelle Blair, a pitcher for the Peoria Redwings of the AAGPBL, spoke about her experiences before coming out as a lesbian for what she said was ” basically the first time.” She is 95 years old.
“A League of Their Own” balances the verve and humor of the original film while grappling with themes of prejudice and the pressures of conformity.
“Every time we read the scripts it was kind of a shock to say, ‘Wow, we’re actually doing this,'” McCormack said.
“When I watch the show, my first reaction is that I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Along with owning Hanks’ famous line, McCormack plays a supporting role as Jess McCready, a fictional shortstop who migrated south of the Moose Jaw border to, as the actress put it, play baseball. , smoking cigarettes and hitting women.
The character was written before McCormack was cast, but she said the writers allowed her to refine the details.
The actress drew on research on the prairies to further her understanding of what a “rural farm boy” of the time might have been like.
When talking about the character, McCormack uses various pronouns, ultimately concluding that Jess probably wouldn’t focus on how their identity took shape in words.
“I was thrilled to play someone whose calling and passion superseded any other type of identity,” McCormack said.
“At the end of the day, Jess identifies as a ball player.”
Some viewers may find “A League of Their Own” plays too liberally with the original film, but McCormack said there wasn’t a moment when she guessed what the creators were up to.
“What I was thinking is that there still isn’t an all-American women’s professional baseball league; there is still no professional place where women can play baseball. So God forbid, we’re giving these women a little bit more airtime,” she said.
“Whatever the movie started, we just took over and kept running with it.”
David Friend, The Canadian Press
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