HOLLYWOOD — The star-studded cast of “American Underdog” descended on Chinese Theater Friday to celebrate the launch of the faith-and-family football film and reflect on the movie's inspiring themes.
Opening nationwide Christmas Day, “American Underdog” tells the story of NFL legend Kurt Warner and his wife, Brenda. Defined by perseverance and faith, the film is based on Kurt Warner's memoir, 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, the athlete continued to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL and was eventually drafted by the Rams. He’d 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 has been married for nearly 30 years and are the parents of seven children.
Andrew Erwin, who with his brother Jon is behind the film, told The Christian Post that the Warners' story is one of hope.
“I think people need hope like they need air,” he said. “I think especially right now, and there’s a huge opportunity for what we believe as people faith, as Christians. I think everybody has felt like the underdog in their own script, in their own story. I think this movie will speak to them, in a way.”
Erwin added that God showed up “time and time again” as the film was created, as the team faced winter storms and other challenges while filming.
“It’s all God,” he said.
"American Underdog" stars Zachary Levi, Anna Paquin, Hayden Zaller and Dennis Quaid. Levi, an outspoken Christian, called bringing Kurt Warner to life an “honor.” He reflected on the film’s themes of community and kindness — a message he believes the Church needs now more than ever.
“There needs to be more love,” he said. “I honestly think there need to be more loving people. And I think that within a lot of various segments of what you would call a ‘church’ today, there's a lot of love internally, but there's not a lot of love externally. And I really stand on the Scripture that says, ‘Love your enemy and pray for your persecutor.’ I want to see more of that.”
He added: “I think if we do more of that, there will be more people that see the love of Christ; there will be more people that see the love of God, and there won't be as much friction. We don't value the very lives that God has placed on this Earth enough ourselves, each other, all that stuff.”
For Kurt and Brenda Warner, seeing their story played out on the big screen was “incredible.” Kurt Warner told CP he wants viewers to be inspired to believe in themselves, despite whatever obstacles come their way.
“We’re all going to find ourselves in places where it's sometimes tough to believe in ourselves when people tell us that we shouldn't believe in ourselves,” the athlete stressed. “Find something you're passionate about and chase it with everything you've got. Doesn't matter if it leads to a Super Bowl, or it's something that nobody ever sees you do. Find what you're passionate about.”
“American Underdog,” Warner said, is about passion — Brenda’s passion for her children and fighting for what she deserved, and his passion for sports.
“I think it's a great message that we all need to hear right about now, because things are a little bit crazy out there. And we don't know what the future has in store for us,” he said.
Brett Varvel, who plays Steve 'Mooch' Mariucci in the film, said the Warners' story reflects Proverbs 16:9, which reads: “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
“I've seen that played out not only in my own life, but in the story of Kurt and Brenda Warner,” he said. “Kurt had all these aspirations and dreams, but he had to go through a really trying journey to get to where he wanted to be. I'm sure he wouldn't have written it that way if he could have, but to see the Lord at work in his life, bringing him to Brenda and those kids — it’s just such an inspiring thing to be reminded of for our own lives, to not give up, to continue to press into the Lord during those difficult times and the mountaintop experiences like winning a Super Bowl.”
Varvel added, “Stand firm in the Lord and stand firm in your faith. Look at Kurt Warner and see how the Lord has blessed him for staying true to the man that God has called him to be. I think that's something that we can all learn from and emulate in our own lives.”
“American Underdog” is rated PG and opens on Christmas Day.
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: email@example.com