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'American Underdog' hits digital, star says film is changing lives: 'It's a story about overcomers'

American Underdog
Anna Paquin and Zachary Levi in "American Underdog." |

“American Underdog,” the true story of Kurt and Brenda Warner, is now available on digital — and it’s changing lives, uniting families and uplifting viewers in countless ways, Ser'Darius Blain, one of the film’s stars, has said. 

From filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin, the team behind “I Can Only Imagine,” the film “American Underdog” is based on Warner’s bestselling book, All Things Possible: My Story of Faith, Football and the Miracle Season.

After years of remaining undrafted, Kurt Warner took a job stocking shelves at a grocery store. However, with the encouragement of his wife, Brenda, the athlete continued to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL. He was eventually drafted by the Rams and would go on to see success as a Hall of Fame and Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

The film also highlights Kurt and Brenda's relationship and the struggles they overcame through faith and commitment. Today, the couple have been married for nearly 30 years and are the parents of seven children. 

"American Underdog" was released in theaters on Christmas Day, an unprecedented feat for a faith-based film, and stars Hollywood A-listers including Zachary Levi (“Shazam”), Oscar winner Anna Paquin and Dennis Quaid.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Blain, who plays Warner’s friend, Mike Hudnutt, shared how in the weeks since the film was released, he’s heard countless stories of how the Warners’ story has impacted lives. 

“I've had a lot of people tell me that it's kind of brought their families together and that they weren't expecting it, and they don't even normally like football movies,” he said. “Football fans were like, ‘I had no idea this was Kurt’s story' … they’d always heard that he started out stocking shelves at a grocery store and then ended up [becoming a] Super Bowl MVP.”

“A lot of women are like, 'I don’t even really like football, and I realized that this movie isn’t about football.’ And that's probably one of my favorite things to hear, is that it's not about football. The movie is literally nothing about football. It's about faith, it's about family, it's about perseverance, holding on to the ones that you love.”

“American Underdog” doesn’t gloss over some of the harder times in the Warners' story, from financial woes to the tragic loss of Brenda’s parents. 

It was the latter scene, Blain shared, that made him want to star in the film after reading the “American Underdog” script for the first time.

“Halfway through the script, I was like sobbing crying on the beach, and I was like, ‘Man, OK, nothing makes me cry.’ So it struck an emotional chord with me. And I knew immediately this is a story that obviously needed to be told and one that I wanted to be a part of," he recalled.

"I'm a fan of real-life heroes, and this was a real-life heroes story. The way that they fought for love, the way that they fought for family, and the way that they fought for their goals really resonated with me.”

Blain’s own hard-fought journey to success, he revealed, mirrors Kurt Warner’s in a small way. He shared his own underdog story of unknowingly buying a fraudulent car when he first moved to Los Angeles that was later repossessed. 

“And I had about $35 in my bank account, no food, a sick mother at the time that I was taking care of … I had no idea what I was going to do,” he said. “And I sat in this driveway as they loaded my car onto this flatbed and I sobbed. … I was almost cursing God in the moment. I was like, ‘Why are you doing this to me?’”

Honesty in filmmaking, and not minimizing life’s difficulties, the “Jumanji” actor said, is part of what makes “American Underdog” such a compelling story. 

“I love Lionsgate and John and Andy's perseverance to try to make sure that every aspect of the story was told as much as you can in a two-hour span,” he said. “Of course, their story is far more expansive than that, but they got to the meat of the story and the meat of the hardship … and then focused on the win, and the constant reminder that love is what was carrying them through this.”

“It was probably hard for Andy and them to get them to go ahead and tell the full truth and paint the story, but it was, it is a very easy story for people to follow and to see themselves in as well," he added.

After seeing success in theaters, “American Underdog” went digital on Feb 4. The Lionsgate film arrives on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, plus Blu-ray and Digital, Blu-ray Combo Pack plus DVD and Digital, DVD and On-Demand later this month. 

Blain described “American Underdog” as a “faith-strengthener,” sharing how his own walk was strengthened while on set — a sentiment earlier shared by Levi. 

“The people that were responsible for making [the film] strengthened my faith,” the actor said. “They're the most humble, kind, genuine, passionate [people], truly passionate about film and storytelling, truly passionate about saving lives … it kind of helps you put life in perspective. We're in a world right now that is bent on being selfish. And here you have this crew of people that are bent on being selfless, and it was quite humbling and sobering.”

And like any good story, he hopes “American Underdog” stands the test of time and continues to inspire and uplift viewers for decades to come. 

“I think that a story like this always will,” he said. “It’s a story about perseverance and people making it despite odds … it's a story about overcomers.”

“American Underdog” is rated PG for some language and thematic elements.

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: leah.klett@christianpost.com

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