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If you’re not familiar with the name “Randy Wehofer”, then you will be soon. The aspiring thespian plays baseball announcer Jack Jeffries in the upcoming movie “Sugar”, and gives a startlingly realistic performance (for much more on “Sugar”, including a movie trailer, see today’s article in MiLB.com).
Wehofer’s dedication to his role was so extreme that he spent the last decade preparing for it. He logged nine seasons as the broadcaster for the Midwest League’s Burlington Bees before moving on to the Iowa Cubs prior to the 2008 campaign. In perhaps the greatest coup in Ben’s Biz Blog history, I was able to land an exclusive interview with Wehofer.
So, without further ado, a glimpse into the mind of one of Iowa’s most buzzed-about actors:
Ben’s Biz: You bring a method actor’s intensity to your role as play-by-play announcer Jack Jeffries. Did this make you difficult to deal with on the set? Any Christian Bale-style freakouts?
Randy Wehofer: Working in minor league baseball for 10 years, I’ve grown very accustomed to a specialized and pampered lifestyle and while on set, I demanded that things worked exactly like a real game. I was especially pleased when the guy who played the visiting manager changed his lineup five minutes before shooting the scene and didn’t tell anyone so we could scramble in the press box to figure out who was coming to the plate. When we shot the road scenes, they were sure to bring me a cold hot dog in the fourth inning when I couldn’t possibly have time to eat it or enjoy it. I really appreciated the way the crew went out of its way to keep me in my comfort zone.
BB: The pressures of fame and fortune can be hard to deal with. Now that you are a celebrity, what steps are you taking to insure that you keep a level head?
RW: I don’t want to make other people jealous, but since word has spread about the movie, I’ve noticed that my wife Joanie and I get better tables at restaurants and the other day I even got a card that says my 14th haircut is going to be FREE. I try to take all of this in stride, though, and remember how hard it must be for all of those guys that work in the big leagues, but haven’t been in a movie.
BB: Do you think players will be jealous of you this season, because fans will be asking you for autographs instead of them?
RW: I’m actually hoping that one of the veteran players might take me under his wing and teach me the ropes when it comes to signing autographs. I’ll need to know what kind of pens to use for glossy photos as opposed to baseballs and how to avoid cramping up on hot days. If all goes well, I’m hoping this experience could put me in the running for a future spot as a roving autograph instructor for a Major League organization.
BB: What will be the next step for you as an actor? Will you be accepting additional roles as a baseball broadcaster, or are you looking to go against type?
RW: In the future, I do want to show my range as an actor so I’m actively seeking roles as a public address announcer, the guy who takes your order in a drive thru, or do a guest spot in a kids show as the guy who reads the morning announcements in a school. I don’t know if I’m ready for it yet, but someday I’d really love to play a baseball broadcaster in an animated feature. I think it would be awesome to be a cartoon.
BB: You are listed in the movie’s credits as “Randolph Wehofer”, as opposed to “Randy”. Is this a bid to be taken more seriously, comparable to when Mark Wahlberg stopped using the name “Marky Mark”?
RW: It was really a ploy to try to have my name take up as much room on the screen as possible during the credits. When I was filling out the form to be in the movie, I actually listed my middle name and a phonetic pronunciation guide for my name as what I wanted included, but they edited it down to just my full first and last name.
BB: Early buzz is that you are a front-runner for a “Best Supporting Actor” Oscar in 2010. Have you started working on your acceptance speech?
RW: I hate to correct you on your own blog, Ben, but I’ve actually been told that my performance is so noteworthy that they’ve created a new category for “Best Athletic Supporting Actor” – and I’ve been told that I will be the only one nominated in that category, so I like my chances. I’d like to thank all the people that made this possible and hope everyone really likes “Sugar.”
(See Randy Wehofer in “Sugar”! The film opens in NYC and Los Angeles this Friday, and nationwide on April 24)