An inspiring story focusing on perseverance, dedication and teamwork, Sony Pictures’ 12 Mighty Orphans is a heartfelt film that will forever leave a lasting impression on all viewers. The wondrous movie is based on a true story about the Mighty Mites, the football team of a Fort Worth orphanage. Coached by the admirable Rusty Russell (played by Luke Wilson in the film), these young men go from being underdogs to playing for the Texas State Championships and winning the hearts of people nationwide… including that of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The beautiful movie shows that with the power of brotherhood and having an impactful, guiding force supporting you every step of the way, nothing is impossible!
12 Mighty Orphans emphasizes the important message of believing in yourself and others. The film is brought to life by great, prolific actors including the aforementioned Wilson, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall and the talented Slade Monroe, who stars as Wheatie in the flick, the quarterback and leader of the Mighty Mites team. The movie takes place during the Great Depression and the touching tale of these praiseworthy and hardworking football players served as a beacon of light during those hard times. Similarly, in a time like now with the pandemic, 12 Mighty Orphans is an uplifting film that brings the positivity we all are yearning for.
Viewers who watch the movie will never guess that this is the brilliant Slade Monroe’s debut feature film as his exceptional, acting prowess truly packed a punch in each and every scene. Monroe was able to bring together his great passions for both acting and playing football in the movie. Combining his thorough preparation for the role, his effortless, acting skills and his experience as a terrific football player himself, Monroe brought cinematic magic to our screens. With his commendable work in 12 Mighty Orphans, there’s no doubt about it that this will be the first of many, many more magnificent films we’ll see the phenomenal Slade Monroe in!
Alexisjoyvipaccess had an excellent time interviewing gifted actor, Slade Monroe all about what it was like for him working on the remarkable film, 12 Mighty Orphans, what is something he’s learnt from working with legendary actors like Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall and Luke Wilson, what the preparation was like for him getting ready to take on the role of Wheatie and so much more only in our VIPAccessEXCLUSIVE interview. Monroe even shared what it was like for him to see himself up on the big screen for the first time at the 12 Mighty Orphans premiere – see what he had to say in our VIPAccessEXCLUSIVE interview below.
Read my VIPAccessEXCLUSIVE interview with the fantastic Slade Monroe below and be sure to catch him in Sony Pictures’ 12 Mighty Orphans out in theaters now!
Alexisjoyvipaccess: Congratulations on all of the phenomenal success with your career! You star in the brilliant Sony film, 12 Mighty Orphans. Can you tell us what the experience was like working on this wonderful movie and bringing this true story to our screens?
Slade Monroe: What made this such a great experience is the fact that they managed to cast 12 guys between the ages of 18 and 25 who actually get along. The friendships seen on screen aren’t acting, they’re real. It made filming this movie truly special. This is my first ever film, and I know that we caught lightning in a bottle with this cast. Aside from the cast, it was a big undertaking for me and a massive step out of my comfort zone from what I was used to. The last thing that I had done was a high school play, so 12 Mighty Orphans became an incredibly unique learning experience.
Alexisjoyvipaccess: You starred alongside profound actors including Luke Wilson, Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall in the film. Is there something that you’ve learnt from working with these iconic actors that has really helped you with your acting career?
Slade Monroe: I got to see first-hand what professionalism looks like. Martin Sheen, Luke Wilson, and Robert Duvall showed me what it’s like to turn acting into art. Watching a movie on screen, the audience only gets to see the character, but when the camera filmed on the day, I got to see these actors transition from themselves to their character and what their process looks like. If anything, I am a great observationalist and what struck me the most was the variety in their subtleness. They made small gestures with major impacts that made each take slightly different. Sometimes, it didn’t work, but, it was their humility in allowing themselves to take a risk for a new idea that showed me what it truly is like to be an actor.
Alexisjoyvipaccess: You also played football for seven years. What was it like combining the worlds of acting and football together in this film?
Slade Monroe: The irony of the situation is that, due to an academic scheduling error, I left football when I was 16 to participate in theater. The decision, though difficult, allowed me to put my focus on my true passion. Little did I know that this decision would lead me to play football again, but not in the typical Friday Night Lights way. 12 Mighty Orphans brought me back to the field while simultaneously sharpening my acting skills. For my first film, I got the best of both worlds.
Alexisjoyvipaccess: What was the preparation like for you getting ready to take on this remarkable role?
Slade Monroe: I read the book in order to understand the intricacies of Wheatie. Although he shows up little in the book, there is enough to understand his emotional highs and lows. I also brought myself to the character with the similarities in our own football-based upbringing. Where I couldn’t find myself, I filled in the blanks with characteristics from former team-members that I grew up with when I played football. In order to get in the mindset, I would also listen to old radio shows such as “Abbott and Costello” or “The Fireside Chats with FDR” as background noise when doing other things. But, the hardest prep was the football we were doing. I didn’t have a stunt double, nor did anybody else, so the 12 of us practiced football plays every day for two weeks to get in shape for when we shot the football scenes. Although it was a physically taxing endeavor, in the end, we had a formidable team.
Alexisjoyvipaccess: Is there a moment from working on the movie that really sticks out to you the most?
Slade Monroe: We were shooting a Thanksgiving scene in the dining hall at midnight. Because the scene was during the day, the lighting department set up lights outside the windows. They did an extremely good job because it looked natural to me. We’d had a full week of shooting and this was the last scene before the weekend, so we were all exhausted. The exhaustion plus the lighting setup was really messing up my internal clock, because my body said midnight, but my eyes were reading noon. Before I knew it, the room began to fill with fog to add texture, and at that point, everything felt like a dream. Suddenly, I hear “Action!” and Martin Sheen bursts through the door wearing a turkey costume shouting “GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE!” I asked Manuel Tapia, who plays Carlos Torres, to pinch me because even to this day, that night did not feel real.
Alexisjoyvipaccess: 12 Mighty Orphans has a countless amount of inspiring and impactful messages weaved throughout the movie. What is the biggest takeaway you’d like fans to have from this film?
Slade Monroe: I think the biggest takeaway is brotherhood and camaraderie, the importance of fatherhood and guidance, and finding your talent in the smallest of circumstances.
Alexisjoyvipaccess: You recently attended the premiere event for 12 Mighty Orphans. What was it like for you to see your work up on the big screen?
Slade Monroe: I have never seen myself perform before. Being a theater kid growing up, it was always people telling me how my performance went, and never seeing it first-hand. I am going to be honest, I am my worst critic. I found myself digging at the smallest of things and had to remind myself to enjoy this moment and do the nitpicking at another time. Believe me, I’ve seen it five times since, and my notepad is full of notes. Note taking aside, it was a dream come true to see myself on the big screen and knowing that I would make my childhood self proud is a major accomplishment. I am thrilled that this is the project that made it happen.
Alexisjoyvipaccess: If you could work alongside any other actor in a future project, who would you like it to be?
Slade Monroe: Tom Hanks is an idol of mine both on and off the screen. He’s arguably one of the best actors of all time while still holding the title of “the nicest man in Hollywood.” I have nothing but respect for him and many of his movies are easily in my top 20 list. Not just because he is in them, but because they are genuinely phenomenal films. If I even got an audition for a movie that he’s in, a part of my soul would be complete.
Alexisjoyvipaccess: What would be your dream role to portray?
Slade Monroe: The type of character that I’d love to play is one that’s similar to a “Walter White” anti-hero. One of the best character arcs in TV, in my opinion, is the transition from Walter White to Heisenberg. Bryan Cranston showed that he can play both a high school teacher and a psychopathic drug lord. A role that stretches the actor’s capabilities like that is one I’d strive for.
Alexisjoyvipaccess: Lastly, if you could bring out one message to all of your fans, what message would that be?
Slade Monroe: You are good enough. I mean internally, externally and both while acting and in the real world. I think a lot of young actors have this mentality that when they form a character, they’re supposed to create something that is entirely opposite of who they are and that’s what “acting” is supposed to be. I was certainly in that mindset at some point. But the truth is, a character can be yourself, just with minor tweaks. It’s the small things that make the most differences. Just like in the real world, it’s those small idiosyncrasies that individualize each and every one of us. Both on the screen or on a stage, and in the real world, you are good enough.