Million Dollar Arm - Darshan Jariwala, Jon Hamm and Alan Arkin
Million Dollar Arm - Vivek (Darshan Jariwala, left), JB's Indian liaison, and JB (Jon Hamm) clock potential pitchers in India as Ray (Alan Arkin) sleeps ©2014 Disney Enterprises, photo by Ishika Mohan

Based on a true story, Disney’s new movie Million Dollar Arm, which opens on May 16th,stars Jon Hamm (Mad Men) as JB Bernstein who, in a desperate move to save his business, concocts a scheme to go to India with a reality show called ‘The Million Dollar Arm’ to find a cricket player who could become baseball’s next great pitcher.

There he discovers Dinesh Patel (Madhur Mittal, Slumdog Millionaire) and Rinku Singh(Suraj Sharma, Life of Pi), hoping to sign them with a major league team.

But the reality of the situation soon becomes evident, as Dinesh and Singh struggle to adjust to life in America, having never left their rural villages, and JB learns valuable lessons from his next door neighbor, Brenda (Lake Bell, Boston Legal) about commitment and what it means to be family.

Jon spoke of the movie at the press conference for the film.

What was it about this project that attracted you to it?

Million Dollar Arm - Jon Hamm
Million Dollar Arm – Sports agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) ©2014 Disney Enterprises, photo by Ron Phillips

I read the script and loved it. Then I looked back to the title page and went, ‘Wait a minute, this is true?’ I’m a huge baseball fan and somehow this went under my radar, so I immediately was on Google finding out everything I could about this.

It’s an incredibly uplifting story about thinking outside the box, and working hard and succeeding.

What was it like shooting in India?

Million Dollar Arm - Director Craig Gillespie and Jon Hamm
Million Dollar Arm – Director Craig Gillespie (left) and Jon Hamm in India on the set ©2014 Disney Enterprises, photo by Ishika Mohan

I’ve never been to India, and being thrust into this with the chaos of India was an eye opener, and let me understand on a visceral level what JB went through. Coming up with this idea is one thing, willing it into existence is a whole other thing.

But the practicalities of doing that in India when you have never been there, have no experience over there, it’s impossible and yet it happened and this is the result, this incredible young man, Rinku, who is an incredible athlete and is literally living my dream as a child of being a professional baseball player, which I kind of hate him for. (he laughs)

As an actor you’re known for edgier roles, did you feel limited by the PG rating?

Million Dollar Arm - Madhur Mittal, Suraj Sharma, Jon Hamm and Pitobash
Million Dollar Arm – Dinesh (Madhur Mittal), Rinku (Suraj Sharma), JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) and Amit (Pitobash) ©2014 Disney Enterprises, photo by Ron Phillips

Absolutely not. We live in this incredibly cynical time, and the journey these two boys went on from literally never having seen a baseball to getting to an elite performance level, and the hard work that it entails, is mind-blowing.

Any final words on the movie?

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the finished product and how it’s much more than the sum of its parts. It has this wonderful message.

My day job (Don Draper in Mad Men) I play not the greatest guy in the world, and it’s nice that I get to make a movie that’s a family film.

The real JB Bernstein was at the press conference along with Rinku Singh. Rinku was asked when he participated in the tryouts in India what made him think he could throw a ball fast? Click here to see his reply and JB’s memories of that day.


Jon was asked what it was like playing a real person, and Lake Bell added why she is so proud of the movie. Click here to see what they said.


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.