The Blind Side tells the extraordinary true story of Michael Oher, who now plays professional football for the Baltimore Ravens.
As a teenager he was virtually homeless when he was spotted wearing shorts and a t-shirt on a freezing winter night in Memphis, Tennessee, by Leigh Anne Tuohy. Learning that the young man was one of her daughters’ classmates, she insisted that he stay at their home that night.
What started out as a gesture of kindness changed all of their lives forever, as the Tuohy family nurtured Michael’s abilities both on and off the football field, eventually adopting him.
Sandra Bullock stars in the movie as Leigh Anne Tuohy, and newcomer Quinton Aaron plays the role of Michael Oher, a man he obviously admires.
Do you feel you and Michael have similar personalities?
Me and Michael have a lot of similarities as far as our personalities, we’re both gentle giants, we keep to ourselves; we both were the biggest kids in our school.
I hadn’t met him, so I didn’t want to try to overact or anything, John Lee Hancock (the director), made me feel comfortable with being myself in the role, so I just tried to put myself in the positions that Michael was in, based off the script, and do the best I could.
Did you get to speak to Michael?
No I haven’t had a chance to speak to Michael yet, he’s been a little busy in the NFL. It’s hard to get away.
I understand you really trained hard for this.
I’ve been working my behind off to try to look the part, doing two workouts a day, seven days a week and following a strict diet plan, which the model of the plan was, if it tastes good it’s not good for you. That was cruel and unusual punishment.
What was it like for you to walk on the set with the caliber of actors like Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw?
It’s been a dream working on this set, at the same time my heart rate has reached levels I didn’t know was possible for a person to stay alive.
The first time I met Sandra was on Easter Sunday. I just stood outside of her room for a couple of seconds, like, ‘Slow down, stop sweating, oh my God. I can’t breathe, the walls are moving.’ I got together in some kind of way and built myself up to go in the room, and as soon as she [saw] me she came to me and gave me the hug that said, ‘Hey, I haven’t seen you in years, how have you been?’ At that point my heart rate went back to a regular, normal pace and I felt comfortable.
She’s just such a sweetheart; I’ve loved her for years. I’ve been a fan of hers every since Love Potion Number Nine. And I just never imagined being able to work alongside of her in a feature film one day, starring alongside of her in a feature film one day, and it’s just been an honor.
Then when I met Tim, he’s real cool. I called him ‘Pops’ on the set because he plays the father, but he’s more like an older brother to me. He really had a lot of wisdom and knowledge and information, he was very helpful. He’s a real cool dude to hang out with and get to know, and sometimes on the set with him I’d hear him sing. Because of him I’m a fan of country music now.
What was it about this story that really resonated with you the most?
What attracted me to the role after reading the script was that I didn’t know the story, and it’s such an inspirational story that needs to be heard. I wanted to portray it because it’s a story about someone who’s here now, as opposed to someone who is dead and gone. So he’s going to be able to witness what’s been said about him.
I think people after knowing someone’s background, where they came from, and seeing the positive things they’ve done with their life, will gain so much more respect for that person.
I wanted to be a part of bringing his story to light, because it’s the story that will inspire a lot of our youth today, I feel, because it tells you that basically no matter how hard a background you come from, you don’t have to turn to guns and violence and end up in jail or the morgue, just because of how bad you had it.
Everyone goes through things but they’ve got to know that it’s not going to last forever, and there’s a way out. That’s what I got from this.