Playing for Keeps had its start on a playing field â a local baseball field in Encino, Calif., where assistant Little League coach Jonathan Mostow met screenwriter Robbie Fox, who happened to be the teamâs head coach.Â Fox had an idea to pitch to Mostow based on his own experiences handling the unsolicited attentions of several team membersâ
Â moms. âThe inspiration began one night at two in the morning, when I sent an email to the teamâs parents, all 24 or 25 of them, and wrote, âHey, guys, tomorrow is practice â be there or be square,ââ explains Fox. He continues, âAt 2:01am, I got a âdingâ back on my computer. It was from one of the moms, and she wrote back â and this line is now typed by Catherine Zeta-Jonesâs character â âHi, Coach! Gee, youâre up late tonight âŠâ I didnât respond but then I got another one a couple of minutes later, and it said, âI know youâre there, Coach. You can run, but you canât hide!â That was the start of thinking about this story.â His premise evolved, developing into the the story of a washed-up former sports hero trying to be a good dad by coaching his son’s soccer team while evading a horde of his playersâ mothers, all of who find him irresistible.
Of the premise of the story Mostow said, âI loved the core central idea. Right away, I got the essence of who this character was, the comedic complications that were going to ensue, and the possibility for it to be both touching and funny at the same time. Within a day we had a deal to start developing the film.â
Bringing Gerard Butler on board proved to be crucial in assembling a cast that includes includes Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Judy Greer and Dennis Quaid. Says producer Kevin Misher: âGerard Butler is Playing For Keeps. It was his passion and his commitment to the movie that elevated it and brought everyone else into it. A lot of the cast was drawn to working with our director, Gabriele Muccino, but Gerard was the glue that made everybody stick to this movie.â
Luckily, Butler was instantly enthusiastic about the script. âI knew straight away this was something I wanted to get involved with,â says the actor. âI thought: âWe can move people with these characters and we can definitely make them laugh.â I felt a lot of emotional attachment to it and I could really identify with George and the journey he takes âÂ unraveling and then putting his life back together.â
The end result is a film that, in Butlerâs words, is âa funny, emotional story that makes you reflect on real life.â
Playing For KeepsÂ is available starting March 5 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
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