We were invited to a private interview of the real characters that Disney's Million Dollar Arm was based on! I was invited as media to attend this all expense paid trip in exchange for my coverage. All opinions are my own.
If you've been following my Disney adventures, you've seen some of my recent interviews with the cast for Million Dollar Arm. I've interviewed Jon Hamm and also attended the world premiere event for Million Dollar Arm (AMAZING). Now, we share our recent interview with the real inspiration, the real people that the story was based on. The story truly is amazing, and what I took away from the interview was motivation and humility. Motivation to keep relentlessly following my dreams, and humility knowing that the most amazing people in this world don't have to be the most powerful and most outspoken. You'll understand why after reading this!
About Million Dollar Arm:
Based on a true story, sports agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) finds that business has changed and things aren’t going well for his career. In a last ditch effort to save his livelihood he concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next great pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a major league baseball star, JB travels to India to produce a reality show competition called “The Million Dollar Arm.” With the help of cantankerous but eagle-eyed retired baseball scout Ray Poitevint (Alan Arkin), he discovers Dinesh (played by Madhur Mittal from “Slumdog Millionaire”) and Rinku (played by Suraj Sharma from “Life of Pi”), two 18-year-old boys who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball. Hoping to sign them to major league contracts and make a quick buck, JB brings the boys home to America to train. While the Americans are definitely out of their element in India, the boys, who have never left their rural villages, are equally challenged when they come to the States. As the boys learn the finer points of baseball, JB, with the help of his charming friend Brenda (Lake Bell), learns valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment and what it means to be a family.
In the beginning, we saw how your big idea came to you for Million Dollar Arm. Was the movie relatively accurate to how it all began?
“You know, some of the things they touch on is the inspirations are accurate like you know, American Idol, but seeing Cricket. But you know, like any idea, I have Business Partners and they were part of the Idea Generation but it's hard to tell a Movie from 80 points of view. In reality, my two Business Partners, Will Chang and Ash Vasudevan, where both in the Movie. They helped us and you know, we kind of were both thinking about these things separately and it wasn't really until we came together that the idea, you know, came from this nebulous fuzzy thing of Hey, we should try to find Talent in India too.
We should, you know, try to do this Game Show and see if we could find some Athletes. So it's — it's pretty accurate in that it shows the inspirations for things but obviously, you know, I'm not smart enough to come up with this idea all by myself.”
Watching this movie and seeing your lives, how does it feel seeing yourselves on the big screen?
“This is a big deal for me. I’m very happy and my family is also happy so, good deal.”
“[Suraj Sharma] did a great job [playing me]. I mean, he’s not just a great actor, he’s also a great human. Meeting him as a person, it just really meant a lot, how he really was nice. I really liked it. It was pretty inspirational and he did a great job. And the way he actually did it, was awesome. I really liked it. That really reminded me of 2008, little Indian that I was.”
JB BERNSTEIN (on what it was like to be portrayed by Jon Hamm):
“The fact that with everything available to Jon Hamm that he chose to play me is very humbling and surreal. And he gets me really, really well. There are parts of the movie where friends of mine have seen him and go ‘Oh My Gosh, how long did he stay with you?’ And I was like I didn’t meet him until halfway through the filming. So he obviously thought I’m the most trite person ever…or they wrote a great script.
But it was really humbling and he’s become a good friend and someone that I really care about and someone who is just a genuinely good guy. You meet a lot of celebrities in my line of business and you realize they’re just like regular people. Some are very nice and some are jerks and you know, the richer they are, the more free they are to be their true person and Jon is just one of these guys who probably has been the same since he was a kid. He’s the same guy, very even keeled, nice guy and I’m really lucky to have him play me.”
What was it like learning to play baseball?
“Yes, it really takes some time. Just like, if you took an American Baseball Player and make them become a Cricket [player], they have no idea how to pitch in Cricket, right? So that was totally different world for me coming here and playing Professional Baseball. Had no idea. It did take a year but I believe that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing in your life if you’re willing to give whatever you got inside and out, you are gonna succeed.”
It's one thing to leave one country to live in another country you've never been to, but to also leave your families behind — what was that like and what kind of role has family played in your life?
“My parents were really afraid by my leaving. They say, don’t go, because this is the new world for me. I never when out so they are very afraid.”
“We didn’t just leave the family. Beside the family, we left our culture, country, friends, food, and we were just 18-year-old kids. Making that huge decision wasn’t easy for us. What are we gonna do without knowing anything about American culture. We don’t know language. We don’t know anybody besides JB. And our parents, they were really afraid cause we never went out to the country.
And that really — that really changes our life, you know. That really teaches us, you know, whatever comes to your life, you make that decision if you’re willing to – just like I said – if you’re willing to give in and out, you’re gonna be happy for the decision you made. So I’m really proud of the decision I made being in America. It’s totally amazing. It has changed my life, changed my family life, and you know, I wanted to stay here.”
The world premiere is tonight, and the story is all about you guys! How do you feel about that, are you excited?!
“Rinku had the chance to screen the Movie for his team down in Renton. Dinesh actually was at a screening with us with the Indian Ambassador of the United States. These guys have met Obama. I’ve been a Sports Agent for 20 years, I’ve never done anything good until I met these guys.
I would probably speak for all of us when we say that this is a really personal journey for us. It’s not like your traditional business deal that I’ve done and this is something that obviously is a very pivotal point in our life. So, you know, our hope is really two things. One is that people take away what these guys have endured -persevered – in order to be successful and take away that lesson that dreams are possible in this country more so than maybe anywhere else in the world.
Now, for kids to be able to look at Rinku and Dinesh as role models and say ‘Look, if these guys did this, you know, I can do anything.’ I could be a baseball pitcher and it’s that first spark of hope not just for kids in India but for kids here, for kids everywhere. They have these two guys to look at, who have done something that’s never been done in the history of the world, to go from a position of never hearing of the sport.”
To end the interview, Rinku mentioned that he listens to music to get pumped up, and he comes home to India once a year to recharge his heart. He encourages others out there to give it their all…
“I believe that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing in your life if you’re willing to give whatever you got inside and out, you are gonna succeed.” – Rinku Singh, Million Dollar Arm
Be sure to join us TONIGHT 5/15 at 8pm ET for the #MillionDollarArmEvent twitter party (JB says he’ll try to make an appearance!)
Million Dollar Arm hits theaters May 16, 2014! Be sure to buy your tickets now!
Check out the featurette for the Million Dollar Arm:
Want to know more or stay up to date with the #MillionDollarArmEvent then be sure to follow on all the social channels for more news to come for Million Dollar Arm: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | @DISNEYPICTURES on Twitter
*Photos courtesy of Disney and Louise Bishop of Mom Start.