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7 things we learned about Jerry Maguire from Cameron Crowe’s Deadline interview

To commemorate Jerry Maguire’s 20th anniversary, Cameron Crowe shared several tidbits about the movie’s development in an interview with Deadline’s Mike Fleming.

The movie Jerry Maguire recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. We noted the milestone with a look back at the film ourselves, and a special 20th anniversary Blu-ray was released on Jan. 3. Paramount did a clever bit of marketing with the NFL for the Blu-ray, putting together a trailer for a Rod Tidwell: A Football Life documentary.

[UPDATE: You can watch the full mockumentary at NFL.com, along with one for Frank Cushman.]

Jerry Maguire still holds up extremely well, has firmly rooted itself in pop culture, and writer-director Cameron Crowe is enjoying something of a victory tour to commemorate the anniversary. He recently did an interview with Deadline’s Mike Fleming, in which he reflected on developing the project, including many of the obstacles and surprises encountered through that process.

The entire interview is worth a read, especially if you’re a fan of the film, but these are some highlights which stood out to us.

Photo via JDMC/Steinberg

Photo via JDMC/Steinberg

** Many people (including myself) think Jerry Maguire was based on agent Leigh Steinberg, who has a cameo in the film. But the initial inspiration was Gary Wichard, based on a photo of the agent with Brian Bosworth and trying to figure out the story in that picture. (Crowe actually mentioned this in a October 2011 interview with Darren Rovell.)

** Crowe originally wrote Jerry Maguire with Tom Hanks in mind. Can you picture Tom Hanks in that role?

He probably would have done just fine, because he’s Tom Hanks. And he’s played career-driven people before in Cast Away, Saving Mr. Banks and A Hologram for the King, among several of his roles. But Hanks is everyman. Jerry Maguire was sort of a golden boy, and his downfall is compelling because of that.

** Jamie Foxx was one of the actors up for Rod Tidwell, and frequently needles Cuba Gooding Jr. about the Academy Award he should have gotten. Fortunately, Foxx got his own eight years later for playing Ray Charles. And he still got to play a football player, as Willie Beamen in Any Given Sunday.

** As you might expect, many actresses read for the part of Dorothy Boyd. Mira Sorvino, coming off what turned out to be an Academy Award-winning role in Mighty Aphrodite, was one of them. Gwyneth Paltrow was at the earlier stages of her career, with a supporting part in Se7en and a leading role in Emma.

But Crowe apparently wanted someone a bit more “blue-collar.” (Maybe “unknown” is what he really meant.) Connie Britton (Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights!) fit that mold more. But apparently, Renee Zellweger’s chemistry with Tom Cruise was what ultimately convinced Crowe. Anyone care to argue that he was wrong there?

** Another kid was originally cast as Dorothy’s son, Ray, and had actually filmed scenes for a few weeks. But the long work of filming and the attention required for talky scenes — especially the one when Ray hangs out with a drunk Maguire — wore him down and Crowe had to recast the role.

** So who was Bob Sugar based on? Would it surprise you at all to learn that it was Drew Rosenhaus (who later claimed to be the inspiration for Jerry Maguire)?

** Speaking of Sugar, Jay Mohr originally read for the role of Frank Cushman (eventually played by Jerry O’Connell), the No. 1 draft pick who spurns Maguire the night before the NFL Draft. As he mentions in the video above from the Blu-ray, Mohr also read for Chad, Dorothy’s nanny (played by Todd Louiso).

Crowe’s interview includes far more details and information than we’ve shared here, including the long writing process, trying to cast a legendary director to play Dicky Fox, and how important it was for him to cast the late Glenn Frey (who played the Arizona Cardinals’ general manager) in the film. It truly is worth your reading time.

[Deadline]

Ian Casselberry

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is an editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, also covering baseball at The Outside Corner and pop culture for The AP Party. He has written for Yahoo! Sports, MLive.com, Bleacher Report and SB Nation, and provides analysis for several sports talk radio shows each week. He currently lives in Asheville, NC.

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