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Ole Miss football opens on the big screen

November 18, 2009


It’s not very often that the one thing competing with an Ole Miss home football game is a movie about Ole Miss football. But this weekend, football lovers will have to squeeze in some time at the Malco to see “The Blind Side” about the Tuohy family and their adopted son Michael Oher, a former Rebel and now the Ravens.

The movie, an adaptation of the New York Times best seller by Michael Lewis, “The Blind Side: The Evolution of a Game,” opens nationwide on Friday. The true story of Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy and their children that met Oher, adopted him and encouraged him in his pursuit to play football, “The Blind Side” is as much about their family as it is Ole Miss.

“You can’t tell in the trailer but the whole movie is Ole Miss all the time,” Collins Tuohy, the daughter that attended Ole Miss at the same time as her adopted brother Oher, said.

But for the Tuohy’s, their priority will be focusing on the game.
“We are the same people that we are now that we were before the movie and book,” Tuohy said. “We will be in Oxford this weekend for the game.”

The family has spent months preparing for the release of the film including doing constant interviews with national media.

“We felt like it was a story that needed to be told,” Tuohy said.
Before the media blitz, the family spent a lot of time on the phone with the actors and visited the set in Georgia numerous times. Oher has had little time to experience what is happening as he is in his rookie season in the pros.

“He hasn’t gotten to be a part of any of this,” Tuohy said. “The movie literally started shooting the day after the draft and wrapped the day before he got out of rookie camp. He never got to the set and now all the publicity stuff has started in the middle of playing football and anyone who knows Michael knows he is all business. He is doing football.”

But Tuohy and her mom got to visit the set several times.

“Mom went a lot and Sandy talked to mom a lot and worked with a voice coach hours upon hours. I don’t want to say we had a huge part but we got to experience the whole process.”

But seeing yourself on the big screen is surreal, Tuohy said. The actress playing her, Lily Collins, talked with Touhy on the phone and by e-mail for months to find out more about her.

“It is weird to have someone play you,” Tuohy said. “You can’t imagine being in a movie theater and the preview coming in and then I see my mom yelling at my little brother. Sandra [Bullock] did such a good job, she sounds just like my mom.”

But Tuohy said that she and Lily have gotten along well as they are similar in age and have much in common.

“I love Lily, she is great,” Tuohy said. “We are already a lot a like and interested in the same things.”

Tuohy said the first time she got the call from the film director to talk to Collins she was sitting in Farley in a journalism class.

“I left class and talked to her for a few minutes. Right away I knew she would do a great job,” Tuohy said. “She has a very calm spirit about her and for her to have that makes it so much better to handle this whole process.”

Tuohy pauses and tells me to hold on because her dad is yelling from across the room.

“Dad, I’m on an interview,” she says before telling me “story of my life.”
Her dad shouts, “Oh sorry I didn’t know you were on the phone, are you doing a good job with the interview?”

Their exchange is just part of a normal family, but unlike most families —they have shared their story for the world to see.

Tuohy warns that their story is no “Remember the Titans.” The film doesn’t end with a winning touchdown or follow the typical football movie.

“I don’t want to give away the ending but the way they ended the movie just kind of wraps up the whole story of our family and the success of Michael being at Ole Miss,” Tuohy said. “It is not an ending you would predict.”

For Tuohy, the biggest impact of the film for her is her brother Michael, the heart of the story.

“To me Michael is Michael but at the end of the film when the real news footage shows and Michael comes out of the room at the draft, when I watched it with an audience and I could see everybody’s face realizing it was a real story, that Michael is a real person —it is special that they have that in there.”

“The Blind Side” opens at Malco in Oxford on Friday. A special screening was held for prominent alumni and donors of the University of Mississippi this week.

Photo 1: TIM McGRAW as Sean Tuohy, LILY COLLINS as Collins Tuohy, JAE HEAD as SJ TUOHY, QUINTON AARON as Michael Oher and SANDRA BULLOCK as Leigh Anne Tuohy in Alcon Entertainment’s drama “The Blind Side,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Ralph Nelson

Photo 2: Michael Oher as a Rebel. Photo by Bruce Newman.

As Published in the Oxford Town.

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