What is the plot of ‘The Hill’?
Based on a true story, growing up impoverished in small-town Texas, young Rickey Hill (Jesse Berry) shows an extraordinary ability for hitting a baseball, despite being burdened by leg braces from a degenerative spinal disease. His stern, pastor father (Dennis Quaid) discourages Rickey from playing baseball to protect him from injury, and to have him follow in his footsteps and become a preacher. As a young man, Rickey (Colin Ford) becomes a baseball phenomenon. His desire to participate in a try-out for a legendary major league scout divides the family and threatens Rickey’s dream of playing professional baseball.
Who is in the cast of ‘The Hill’?
Moviefone had the pleasure of speaking with Colin Ford earlier this summer about his work on ‘The Hill,’ learning of Rickey Hill’s incredible true story, his approach to playing him, Rickey’s relationship with his father, working with Dennis Quaid, playing baseball authentically on camera, why he relates to Rickey Hill’s story, and what he hopes audiences take away from seeing the movie.
Moviefone: To begin with, what was your first reaction to reading the screenplay and learning about Rickey Hill’s incredible real life story?
Colin Ford: I think my first reaction was,”Oh my gosh, the stuff that this guy went through to achieve his dreams.” I think it was just that. It’s like the adversity that he faced, the trials and tribulations. The faith that he had in himself, and belief that he had in himself in order to achieve his dreams. All of that was very attractive to me. Then you have all the little extras. They’re not really extras, they’re key points too. You got Dennis Quaid, you got baseball, you got director Jeff Celentano, and writers Angelo Pizzo and Scott Marshall Smith. So it’s like all of these factors encompassing into this dream gig.
MF: What was your approach to playing Rickey and what research did you to prepare for the role?
CF: Well, I was super lucky. Jeff Celentano was very hands-on and he actually had a direct relationship with Rickey. So after I signed on very early, I got to begin to have conversations with Rickey. He was on set sometimes, and so he would share stories and things like that. But for me, when I delve into a character, it’s really important that I feel like if I’m playing somebody that really existed, to do them justice. I certainly hope to get their stamp of approval at the end. So in regards to the physicality of the stuff, it was really important to get with Rickey and start working on baseball swing stuff, and leg limp stuff. All of the physical stuff was really important to dial in before stepping onto set.
MF: Did you have baseball experience before making this movie, or did you work with a coach to make the baseball scenes as authentic as possible?
CF: I did work with a coach for about three months leading up until filming. But I did have some baseball experience from my little league days and my middle school, and high school days. I stopped in about ninth grade in high school. So I definitely had some polishing to do before stepping onto set. We were going to be filming in the year 2019, and then the pandemic hit and we had some delays. Then 2021 rolled around when ultimately we did film. In between that time, I went under a transformation myself. I only weighed 120 pounds and I got up to weigh to 180 pounds by the time we started filming. So it was a whole lot of transformations that were coming to play; baseball, physicality, everything.
MF: Can you talk about Rickey’s difficult relationship with his father, and what was it like for you to work on that relationship with Dennis Quaid?
CF: Yeah, no, it was amazing. Getting to work with Dennis was a dream in itself. But kind of trying to dial in that relationship between Rickey and his father was interesting because, just to share a little story. My father, who’s very supportive of my dreams as an actor now, at one point in time, wanted me to pursue more of an academic career. Similarly to how Pastor Hill wants Rickey to follow in his own footsteps. I had plans of my own, just like Rickey has plans of his own. Ultimately, I think that that sort of mindset that I had with my father lent to the same mindset that Ricky had with his father under different circumstances. Then on set, Dennis and I just got to play. We just got to mess around, chat a little bit about those types of things, and everything just fell into place. He’s a wonderful scene partner.
MF: So, you were really able to relate personally with certain aspects of Rickey’s story?
CF: I think so, yeah. I mean, everybody’s journey is different and I don’t want to compare mine to the other. But I definitely try to find similarities and things I can pinpoint in my own life that are easy to draw on for the character.
MF: Finally, what do you hope audiences take away from watching this movie and learning of Rickey Hill’s story?
CF: I hope that audiences take away that with a good support system, with the right family and belief, self-belief system in yourself, that you can truly achieve anything. A little bit of faith along the way is all you need.
This interview was accomplished prior to the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike.
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