Jae Head – The Blind Side

March 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Interviews

In Hollywood, it would be tough for even the most seasoned actor to ever get the opportunity to share screen time with stars such as Will Smith, Charlize Theron, and Sandra Bullock. For Texas native Jae Head, it all happened before his 13th birthday.

Jae, 13, who lives in the Hill Country town of Goldthwaite, Texas, started his career in the entertainment industry in 2005 when he was featured in one episode of the CBS comedy series “How I Met Your Mother.” Jae got a break when he landed a role on the NBC show “Friday Night Lights.” Creator Peter Berg then cast him in his 2008 superhero movie “Hancock” opposite Smith and Theron.

In his most recent film, “The Blind Side,” which was just released on DVD March 23, Jae plays S.J. Tuohy, the son of Sean and Leigh Anne (Tim McGraw and Bullock). Based on a true story, “The Blind Side” follows the Tuohy family as they open their hearts and home to an at-risk teenager named Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron). Oher is currently an NFL football player for the Baltimore Ravens.

“It was so much fun to film ‘The Blind Side,’” Jae told me during a phone interview. “I’m really happy for Sandra.” Bullock, who had won a Golden Globe for her role at the time of this interview, also earned an Academy Award for her portrayal of the no-nonsense matriarch of her Southern family.

As S.J., Jae says shooting a movie like “The Blind Side” was a dream come true .

“I always wanted to be in a football movie,” said Jae, who names the Philadelphia Eagles as his favorite pro team. “Football is my favorite sport.”

Despite his love for the game, football was not something Jae was destined to play. Born with a severe heart defect, Jae’s physical activities have been limited his entire life.

“That made it hard for me to play sports,” Jae said. “I couldn’t play on a team or in a league because I can’t do all the same stuff other kids can.”

When his father, who is a football coach at the local high school, heard a radio commercial for a talent search, acting became the creative outlet Jae was looking for.

“It was hard because my dad was a quarterback, his brother was a quarterback, and their dad was a quarterback,” Jae said. “When I got into acting, it kind of took the place of football. I still wish sometimes that I could play.”

When Jae learned about the audition for “The Blind Side,” it was like the next best thing.

“They were really looking for a small energetic kid and I got the part,” Jae said. “I was able to be around all these football players.”

While it’s been an exciting past five years working in L.A., Jae says he enjoys his small-town life where everyone knows each other and it’s safe to walk to a friend’s house one street away. The only thing he could do without is when people sometimes treat him differently because of his success as an actor.

“Sometimes I wish I was in a big city,” Jae said. “Sometimes when I go to the grocery store with my mom the lady at the checkout counter will say, ‘Hey Mr. Movie Star,’ but I just want to be Jae when I’m home.”

In the future, Jae said he might think about moving to L.A. like most actors, but not anytime soon.

“I might do that when I’m grown up and have my own wife and kids,” Jae said. “But I like it here with my parents.”

The Blind Side

November 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw
Directed by: John Lee Hancock (“The Alamo”)
Written by: John Lee Hancock (“The Alamo”)

While Sandra Bullock has flocked to typical airhead roles for most of her career, she chooses something with a bit more substance in the inspirational sports film “The Blind Side.” It’s unfortunate, however, to see director/writer John Lee Hancock (“The Alamo”) take a more conventional route in this true-life story that starts off strong but eventually settles back into a comfortable spot on the sidelines.

In “The Blind Side,” Bullock plays Leigh Anne Touhy, a wealthy Southern wife and mother who opens her home to a homeless, uneducated black teenager everyone calls Big Mike (Quinton Aaron). Today, Big Mike is known better as Michael Oher, rookie offensive tackle for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.

Based on the 2006 book “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” by Michael Lewis, the film version of Oher’s story can be moving at times, but such a major portion of the film is centered around the philanthropic nature of Leigh Anne and her family, Hancock somehow dodges the heart of the story.

Michael comes from a broken home. His mother has abandoned him and he has no support system to guide him through his most formidable years. In steps Leigh Anne and her family (Tim McGraw plays the agreeable husband) ready to mold Michael into a successful young man with a bright future. Along the way, football enters into the big picture although the sport itself doesn’t play much of a role other than being a metaphorical connection to the film’s title. Since Michael’s position on the gridiron is offensive left tackle, it’s his job to protect the quarterback’s vulnerable “blind side.” It’s basically another way of saying Michael has the ability to stand strong against any adversity he faces in life.

While the underlying meanings are all well-intended, it would have been nice to get a better sense of Michael as a real human being rather than someone written only as gentle giant. The character is probably close to who Michael was at that time in his life, but Hancock drives those big teddy bear-like characteristics into the ground. He even compares Michael to “Ferdinand the Bull,” a children’s story about a bovine who would rather smell flowers than participate in bullfights.

It’s a sweet idea, but one that makes the Touhy’s good deeds seem more like a charity case than something genuine and heartfelt. It’s not until the credits roll and real-life photos of Michael and Leigh Anne replace the cliché movie that just ended when we feel closer to these characters.

There really is a moving film somewhere inside all the marshmallow stuffing of “The Blind Side.” It probably would have made more of an impact if it was presented as an ESPN-produced, 10-minute-long human interest story shown at halftime of a Baltimore Ravens playoff game. Instead, we’re dealt a cuddly feature film in dire need of some edge.