Life is full of accidents, and this one was of the happy variety.
Christian filmmaker Andy Erwin, co-producer for “American Underdog,” a film chronicling the life story of NFL legend Kurt Warner, achieved an early victory in the project when he unintentionally landed “Shazam” star Zachary Levi to portray the famous footballer in the movie, releasing Christmas Day.
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During a recent interview with Faithwire, Erwin talked about his years-long friendship with Levi, noting they both took major steps forward in their careers in 2018: Erwin with the successful debut of “I Can Only Imagine” and Levi with the superhero franchise “Shazam.”
Erwin secretly wanted to pitch the film to Levi, but figured there was “no way” the well-known actor would agree to the project, given his overwhelming schedule.
“But we were on a FaceTime call one day and he said, ‘What’s this Kurt Warner movie I keep hearing people throwing my name around in?’“ Erwin recalled. “And I said, ‘Zach, I wasn’t gonna pitch you, because I know you’re booked for the next three years.’ He said, ‘Well, send me the script, and we’ll see what we can do.’”
“I sent him the script, he read it, and texted me back at midnight and said, ‘I’m in tears. I love this thing. Let’s go make a football movie,’” he added.
At that point, Erwin texted his brother and co-producer, Jon, to tell him he landed Levi for the role of Warner — completely by accident.
The casting of the 41-year-old actor to play Warner is serendipitous. Much like the Christian football star, who went from being a stock boy at a grocery store to a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and Hall of Fame quarterback, Levi grew up without a father in the home, an important theme in the movie.
Erwin told Faithwire the film looks at fatherhood “from the standpoint of imperfection.”
“Kurt came from a home where his parents had split up,” he said. “The model might not have been perfect of what the family is supposed to look like, but he fell in love with this single mom [Brenda] and her kids and just said, ‘You know, I’m a fifth-year college senior. I don’t know anything about being a dad, but I feel I need to fight for these kids.’”
“It was exciting to see Kurt figuring it out as he went along,” Erwin explained.
“The Super Bowl of our industry”
Erwin is thanking God for the success he and his brother have had in the movie-making industry, telling Faithwire Lionsgate “has really bought in to our brand and our audience.”
“So when it gets to a movie like ‘American Underdog,’ to have a movie that has this budget with this cast and being given a Christmas Day release — that’s never happened for any faith film up to this point,” Erwin said. “Christmas Day is the Super Bowl of our industry.”
“I feel blessed to have that opportunity,” he continued, “because it’s not been an easy journey for sure.”
Watch the rest of our conversation with Erwin in the video below:
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