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6 Degrees Entertainment

Andrew Shue & Carly Schroeder ('Gracie') Andrew Shue & Carly Schroeder ('Gracie')

'Amazing Gracie'

Set in 1978, 'Gracie' is an inspirational film about a teenage girl who overcomes the loss of her brother and fights the odds to achieve her dream of playing competitive soccer at a time when girls’ soccer did not exist.

Based on true events from the lives of the Shue family (producer and co-star Andrew Shue, Academy Award®-nominated actress Elisabeth Shue), the film is directed by Academy Award®-winning director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth), who happens to be part of the family as well, being married to Elisabeth Shue.

Living in South Orange New Jersey, 15 year old Gracie Bowen (Carly Schroeder) is the only girl in a family of three brothers. Their family life revolves almost entirely around soccer: her father (Dermot Mulroney) and brothers are obsessed with the sport, practicing in the backyard's makeshift field every day from morning ‘til night.

Tragedy unexpectedly strikes when Gracie's older brother Johnny (Jesse Lee Soffer), star of the high school varsity soccer team and Gracie's only protector, is killed in a car accident.

Struggling with grief over her family's loss, Gracie decides to fill the void left on her brother's team by petitioning the school board to allow her to play on the boys’ high school varsity soccer team in his place. Her father, a former soccer star himself, tries to prove to Gracie that she is not tough enough or talented enough to play with boys. Her mother, Lindsey Bowen (Elisabeth Shue) already an outsider in the sports-obsessed family, is no help either.

Undeterred, Gracie finds reserves of strength she never knew existed, and persists in changing everyone's beliefs in what she is capable of, including her own. Gracie not only forces her father to wake up from his grief and see her as the beautiful and strong person that she has always been but she also brings her family together in the face of their tragedy.

With the Shue’s casting their net far a wide to @ 2,000+ people, what do you think you brought to the table to win this role of 'Gracie'? CARLY SCHROEDER - "I think Andrew has to answer that," she laughs, turning to look at him. "I hate talking about myself, so I don't know," she laughs again. "But, I'm a very competitive person by nature. At 13 I played on a boys wrestling team and beat all the boys up to 18! And so I told Andrew that story when I went in there ... so I guess maybe they liked that," she shyly giggles, gently shrugging her surprisingly petite shoulders.

ANDREW SHUE - "Yeah she came in with this kind of energy which was 'I HAVE to take this part'," he himself laughs.

CS - "I had the script two years before they even started doing the casting. And, as soon as I read it I knew I wanted to be Gracie," Carly adds.

AS - "It was really down to her attitude and how determined she was to play this role, which is kind of symbolic of what 'Gracie' is all about. And me, well I wanted to see if she could actually act. She had had a lot of experience working in independent films, working with great actors like Harrison Ford, so she's an experienced actress who also has this great raw talent."

"And I think Davis [Guggenheim] saw that also and that she was very directable. A lot of times you see actresses that come out of soap operas that are a little bit cookie cutter, used to saying the same things over and over again. Like a soccer player using the same moves. But she had that ability to be directed. It's a performance that will be around for a long, long time. And this film, because of her performance; her character 'Gracie' has the chance to become kind of an icon out there. Especially for soccer movies, but also I just think for sports movies in general."

In the scene looking through the kitchen outside into the yard, you are seen juggling the ball continuously for @ 15 seconds … until it finally escapes you! Was that all you? CS - "Yes, yes," she excitedly admits, smiling ear to ear.

AS - "I was thinking that if Davis could have cut that earlier ... but it did show that she did drop it eventually. That was a very real moment."

CS - "There was 36 of them ... 36 juggles," she goes on to proudly admit.

With all this new-found soccer skill and knowledge, did you leave the movie thinking that playing soccer was now something you had to do in real life for a team? CS - "Definitely ... when I finished the movie I wanted to go back to public school and play on the girls team, but that just didn't work out," she laughs. "I had so much school work that I had to get done and I knew that as soon as I got on to the team that I'd end up doing something else. And so I would be letting down my team by not being there for them. But yeah, I love it."

So, it wouldn't have been a boys soccer team that you would have joined?! CS - "Well, in our area we have an excellent girls team that's actually better than the boys team. So yeah, I'd play on the girls team," she again laughs.

Did you get any bumps and bruises from any of the soccer scenes? CS - "Oh definitely, definitely. I got kicked in the knees a few times by the goalie when we were doing some scenes. I got that [she now lifts her left ankle up onto my chair to show me a two inch long scar] when I got slide-tackled from this guy Goran. But that was pretty awesome though," she broadly smiles. "I was so thrilled! If there was anything I could get to keep, that would be it. I was so proud."

AS - "In that scene with Dermot when he was teaching her that move [in the back yard] they head-butted and his head went straight into her cheek! I mean it was hard."

CS - "I thought I'd cracked one of my teeth or something."

AS - "I thought she'd cracked her teeth also."

CS - "Then we thought for two weeks that I'd broken my ankle! I could walk but it wasn't good," she gently shrugs once more.

In complete honesty, ... just how many eggs were broken in the making of this film?! CS - "A lot,", she loudly laughs.

AS - "At least a couple of dozen! But she did catch it eventually, in real life. She's got big toes and feet!"

CS - "Hey, enough with the toes and feet," she jokingly remonstrates across the table.

So who was the player scoring the goal in the old video reel footage they were watching? AS - "That was my older brother, to which this movie is dedicated to. My dad played soccer in college wearing #7. Then the town we grew up in happened to have this Ukrainian Coach, Eugene Chizowitz, who really began our youth program in the early '70s."

"So, my brother Will started playing and two years later my sister Elizabeth started playing; with Will going on to win the State Championships, scoring the winning goal. In that footage you saw, which was actually at Giants Stadium during that State Championship game, he actually scored on a half volley from 10 yards out to win the game."

"I was in 6th Grade at the time so I was looking at him as the ultimate hero. So, this movie is really about that time. When we were all just so passionate about the game. He was actually killed just a few years after he got out of college, as opposed to when he was a senior in High School. So, we changed the order of the timing obviously a little bit ... and my sister didn't actually go on to try out! She played right up until 9th Grade and then quit because there really was nobody there to say - as our parents had been divorced - 'What are you talking about? You should keep playing.' So we kinda changed the order and said what would have happened if my brother had passed away at that time. And she [Elizabeth] said, she knows in her heart she would have kept playing."

So, all the other noted events ring true then for this movie AS - "Yeah, all the events ... well, the missing penalty kick, unfortunately that was me! I missed the penalty kick to lose the game in the Semi-Finals of the State Tournament. And I was also called off the bench with that kind of 'Shue, you' ... 'Er, me?!' look and literally with just two minutes to go came in and tied the game. So yeah, all of that, including my sister stealing my stepfather's car and driving it to the shore, spray painting her name on the walls was all true."

And being that you yourself used to play for the LA Galaxy, can you imagine playing today in that line-up with David Beckham?! AS - "Yeah, I'd be playing out wide and he'd be playing right midfield. I had the #7 jersey my first year at the Galaxy. So, he'd be taking it over which means it's going to be in good hands. It would have been a thrill."

"My kids all play the game and he's a world class superstar. I think if he helps just one new player from overseas join the MLS with all his attention, the level will keep going up and then we'll be right there. The time is coming when the US will be a soccer force. It's probably another 10 or 20 years away, but it's coming."

What were the major differences between filming a Hollywood blockbuster with Harrison Ford ['Firewall'] and this family-orientated, low budget movie? CS - "I have to say that 'Firewall' was Harrison Ford's movie and it was a 5 month shoot. The script was basically rewritten as we went along for that. It was a good movie for Harrison Ford, but this movie is an inspirational movie and I believe that teenagers and adults alike both need inspiration. And I think this movie does it for me. This was a great acting role and a great movie in itself."

Talking of some meaty roles you've undertaken, was 'Prey' actually filmed in Africa? CS - "Yes, it was all filmed in South Africa. I was there for three months."

Was it what we lovingly refer to as a 'Paycheck' movie' for you, perhaps? CS - "Oh, no," she replies adamantly. "No, I actually haven't done a 'Paycheck' movie yet. I've do all the moves because they're something that I want to do. 'Prey' was the chance to get to go to South Africa. That was pretty dang awesome in itself and at the end I got to go on a Sabi Sabi Safari Tour trip. Which is like the best resort you can possibly go to whilst there. That was incredible."

"I don't usually do movies that have paychecks involved because they don't have the best scripts."

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

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