Nobody can fill the shoes of Hollywood star Tom Hanks, of that actress Kelly McCormack is sure.
However, in the new TV series “A League of Their Own,” the Vancouver native was given a task almost as stressful as emulating Hanks: saying one of his most iconic catchphrases.
“There is no crying in baseball!”
The five words are lamented by Hanks in the 1992 sports comedy, when 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 reimagined episodic remake, which opens Friday on Prime Video, McCormack’s character says the exact same words in a different context. His version is kind of a factual mic pitch, with his character: a Rockford Peaches shortstop from Moose Jaw, Sask. He — she blurted out the statement before walking away from his team.
“I was excited and excited, and then I was immediately terrified,” McCormack said of learning she would recite the famous quote.
“My strategy was just to say it; Do not try to delve into any kind of homage to Tom Hanks.”
McCormack is still nervous about how her performance will be received. Before the show’s release, she says that she asked the few people who watched the episode if they think her delivery works.
The fit is one of many curveballs in a reboot that throws up the original movie’s playbook.
While both the movie and TV series are based on the real-life All-American Girls Professional League (AAGPBL), the TV version of “A League of Their Own” heads in a different direction. by getting rid of some prominent characters and introducing new ones. , and takes place over an eight-episode arc that takes place mostly off the field.
The extra running time allows co-creator and lead actress Abbi Jacobson, before “Broad City,” to explore narratives about race and gender identity in the 1940s, while giving more screen time to a queer culture than existed in the shadows of women’s baseball. equipment.
Historical accounts have detailed romantic relationships between some players that were kept hidden.
Women’s baseball teams faced strict rules about showing up. They could not be seen wearing pants and they were not allowed to smoke. The league lived by the motto: “Play like a man, look like a lady.”
During a recent panel at the Tribeca Film Festival, Maybelle Blair, a host of AAGPBL’s Peoria Redwings, opened up about her experiences before coming out as lesbian for what she said was “basically the first time.” She is 95 years old.
“A League of Their Own” balances the excitement and humor of the original film while wrestling with themes of prejudice and the pressures of conformity.
“Every time we read the scripts, we were surprised to say, ‘Wow, we’re actually doing this,’” McCormack said.
“When I watch the series, my first reaction is that I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Beyond owning the famous Hanks line, McCormack plays a supporting role as Jess McCready, a fictional shortstop who migrated south of the border from Moose Jaw to, as the actress says, play baseball, smoke cigarettes and flirt with women.
The character was written before McCormack was cast, but he said the writers allowed him to hone in on the details.
The actress drew on research on the prairies to deepen her understanding of who a “rural farm boy” of the time might be.
When talking about the character, McCormack uses various pronouns, ultimately concluding that Jess probably wouldn’t focus on how her identity took shape in words.
“I was excited to play someone whose calling and passion surpassed any other kind of self-identity,” McCormack said.
“Ultimately, Jess identifies as a baseball player.”
Some viewers may find “A League of Their Own” plays too liberally with the original film, but McCormack said there was not a moment when she doubted what the creators were doing.
“What I thought was that there is no such thing as an all-American women’s professional baseball league yet; There is still no professional place for women to play baseball. So God forbid, we give these women a little bit more airtime,” she said.
“Regardless of what the movie started, we just picked up the baton and moved on.”
David Friend, The Canadian Press
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