Get Close with ... with Crooked Arrows star Brandon Routh
by Scott Kearnan
| June 01, 2012
Boston is a big sports town, though local passion for lacrosse hasn’t reached a Fenway-level fever pitch. But we’ll still line up for Crooked Arrows, a locally filmed lacrosse movie starring Superman Returns and Chuck actor Brandon Routh. In Arrows, Routh trades his superhero cape for a coach’s whistle, portraying a Native American of mixed heritage who returns to his tribe’s reservation to lead an underdog high-school team to success against rich prep-school rivals. (Think The Mighty Ducks on grass.) While shooting last summer in and around the Hub, Routh took some time to explore the city. (Legal Harborside’s rooftop lounge was one of his favorite hangouts.) And he just came back through town for the movie’s premiere, so we grabbed him to chat about Crooked Arrows and his newly announced role on Partners, an upcoming CBS sitcom from the creators of Will & Grace. Routh will play the boyfriend of lead Louis (Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie), a gay architect who shares a business with his straight best friend. Superman on the small screen every week? Score!
Since Crooked Arrows is a sports movie, I’ll ask: any affinity for Boston teams? I’m a Patriots fan, if anything. I liked Drew Bledsoe; I was always a fan of him. I’m a 49ers fan first and a Chiefs fan second, but we never had too many run-ins with the Patriots, so I was always able to applaud their rise to success. . . . And my wife is a big Red Sox fan. Her sister went to school out here, and she came out to visit. She fell in love with the stadium, the game, and the fans — how much they loved the game.
I hear you actually have Native American heritage yourself? There’s a teeny bit of it in my blood, from very far back. . . . It was something that was a presence in our lives growing up. Before I even knew that we had some trace in our lineage, my grandmother — my dad’s mom — always had a lot of Native American art around her house. Though she was distant from it, she longed for it. She really appreciated the spirituality aspect of it.
How hard was it to learn lacrosse? Pretty challenging! It’s a whole-body thing. I had to unlearn some things. You always think your dominant hand is where the power is. But if you’re right-hand dominant, in throwing lacrosse you really need to pay attention to your left hand — ’cause that’s the captain of the ship. When I finally figured that out, it made things much easier for me. But I loved it. I love sports where I can continually work on skills by myself. That’s what I love about soccer: I’ll stand in front of a goal for hours, taking kicks.
What separates this from other “underdog” sports movies? It’s not just about sports. There are a lot of themes: father-son relationships, the old and new coming together, and the education you get about the history of lacrosse and the sport’s evolution. I think it looks at sports in a new way. It’s not just about winning and losing, cliché as that is, but about playing for something bigger than that — whether playing for the Creator as the Natives do, or your version of God, or for the joy of it, the meditation of it, the expression of the human experience.
Have you had times in life when you felt like the underdog? My whole high-school experience was like that! I wasn’t cool in high school. I was a band nerd, a theater geek. I did sports, but didn’t really have any friends outside of school. I was a loner in that respect. I played video games, read books, did sports, and practiced music. I was an underdog waiting to get out of high school — and college was a savior. So kids who come across this, like they say, it does get better! Just hang on a little bit. You’ll meet more enlightened people. They’re out there in the world.
Tell us about Wyatt, your character in Partners . He’s basically a recovering alcoholic, a former club-hopping model. Now he’s a sober vegan nurse. It’s exciting for me because it’s a type of character I love to play and haven’t had much opportunity. He’s a little naïve and really happy, like a more dimwitted Mr. Rogers. [Laughs] The first role I ever played was a character called Aesop in a play called Hide and Shriek, a comedy where I played this bumbling redneck who wore bib overalls and a straw hat, with this stupid accent I tried to do. Wyatt isn’t as dumb as Aesop, but I really enjoy playing naïve characters.