The movie, Blind Side, arrived this week on DVD and Blu-Ray combo packs. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and winning an Oscar for Sandra Bullock, the movie also stars Quinton Aaron who played Michael Oher.
Aaron stars as the virtually abandoned Oher who lived in a gang-invested part of Memphis, Tennessee. He is kindly taken in by a white, affluent family and is nurtured by his new mother, (Sandra Bullock). Because of his size, he is coaxed into playing football, the left tackle position, which is where the movie gets its name. In football parlance, the left tackle protects the “blind side” of a right-handed quarterback from the rushing defense.
Quinton Aaron talked to Catholic Exchange about this life-changing role for him.
Aaron told Catholic Exchange that in some ways he could identify with the character he ended up playing in the movie, Blind Side. “I didn’t know my father when I grew up; Michael didn’t know his father growing up. He was the biggest kid in his school; and so was I. We both were kinda shy and quiet too.”
Aaron was raised by his mother and she encouraged him to follow his dreams — which were not focused on sports, despite his size. “I wanted to sing and act as a kid and my mom always told me to follow my dreams,” said Aaron. Raised in a Christian home, Aaron attended services and sang in the choir. Sadly his mother didn’t get a chance to see his success translate to the big screen as she passed away in September, 2008. “But I know she is watching me up there in heaven,” said Aaron.
For the makers of the movie Blind Side finding Quinton Aaron was an answer to their prayers. A nationwide search had been conducted, but still they had not found the perfect person to play the role of Michael Oher. The casting crew had gone from city to city across the country looking for the right young man and could not find him. They were looking for a gentle giant. Finally, they discovered Quinton Aaron, flew him to Los Angeles to meet with the producers and offered him the role.
“The whole experience of working with Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw was like a dream come true for me. I came to the set early every day, stayed late; I didn’t want it to end,” he said with a laugh.
Blind Side has grossed more money at the box office more than $250 million, than any other film in history with a female lead. Asked if he had any idea that the movie would be so successful when he was making it, Aaron said, “I didn’t want to make any predictions at the time because it was like working on my dream job. To just hang out with everybody on the set and joke with them that was just so cool, I was just in la-la land, so I wasn’t even thinking about how the movie was going to turn out at all.”
My wife Patti and I watched Blind Side on the big screen when it first came out, in part because we have adopted two sons from Kenya whose parents died from AIDS. One is graduating from college this spring and going to medical school in the fall. The other, a freshman at the University of Portland on a track scholarship, was one of the fastest long-distance runners in the nation out of high school. We know first-hand what a difference people can make in each other’s lives. And I am not speaking of us making a difference in our adopted sons’ lives; I am speaking of what a difference those two boys have made in our family’s lives.
The real beauty in the movie, Blind Side is not so much about a family taking a troubled youth into their family and making a difference for that individual. It’s how Michael Oher made a difference in helping them to see what was really important in life. Sometimes you don’t know what is missing in your family until you share as much love as you can. And we all can share more love. I always tell people who admire us for taking in our sons from Kenya, “You can’t always make a difference to everyone in the world, but you can make a world of difference to those you come in contact with.” That is the message in Blind Side.
[Blind Side is rated PG-13 for one scene involving brief violence, drug and sexual references.]