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George Clooney's The Boys In The Boat

December 10th, 2023George Clooney's The Boys In The Boat

THE BOYS IN THE BOAT opens December 25

In the earlier years of his directing career, George Clooney released a highly acclaimed biopic about legendary TV reporter Edward R. Murrow called GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. in 2005. Three years later, he came out with a more comedic film called LEATHERHEADS that was purely fictional, but was authentically set against the backdrop of American football’s infancy in the 1920s. For his latest release, Clooney returns to both the biopic genre and the world of sports with THE BOYS IN THE BOAT.

Based on the 2013 non-fiction novel from author Daniel James Brown, the film – which is opening in AMC Theatres on December 25 – tells the story of a collegiate rowing team who managed to beat the odds and row their way to glory, representing their country in the Olympics. There is more to the story than just that, as you can discover when THE BOYS IN THE BOAT comes out. Before then, take a look at what there is for audiences of all ages to expect in our guide below.

Based On A True Story

The true story behind THE BOYS IN THE BOAT starts in 1936 Seattle, Washington, when Al Ulbrickson – head coach of University of Washington’s rowing team – was looking for eight men, and a ninth back-up, to fill up his latest junior varsity crew. One of the men picked was Joe Rantz – an engineering student who had been on his own since the beginning of the Depression and who recalled his side of the story to author Daniel James Brown before he died, according to an excerpt from The Boys in the Boat published by WBUR.

The full crew – as recalled by the University of Washington’s official online magazine – was made up of Bobby Moch steering the “Husky Clipper” as the coxswain, Donald Hume at stroke, Rantz, George Hunt, Jim McMillin, Johnny White, Gordon Adam and Charles Day, with Roger Morris as the back-up. This rowing team – also called the Huskies – had Ulbrickson convinced they were the right choice to go to Berlin and compete in the Olympics for a shot at the Gold Medal.

A Crowd-Pleasing Sports Biopic

THE BOYS IN THE BOAT – which was written for screen by Grant Heslov and Mark L. Smith – follows the history of the University of Washington rowing team and their stunning accomplishments in 1936 primarily from the perspective of Joe Rantz. Much like the original book, the film depicts his struggles to single-handedly put himself through school, which is what leads him to join the crew in the first place, on the promise that he will be compensated. Through him, the audience is also treated to a heartwarming romantic subplot involving his relationship with a kind and beautiful classmate named Joyce.

However, the most important relationship of the story is between Joe and his teammates – some of whom have a more difficult time relating to one another initially. Luckily, they eventually come to form a close bond that becomes key to their victories, along with the encouragement of Al Ulbrickson, who never stops believing in their potential. The boat racing sequences, accompanied by Alexandre Desplat’s rousing score, feel just as exciting as they must have been to watch – or to be in the boat – in 1936.

Joel Edgerton Leads

Leading the BOYS IN THE BOAT cast as Coach Al Ulbrickson is Joel Edgerton, who previously starred in one other sports movie – 2011’s WARRIOR – but plenty of other fact-based films, including Academy AwardⓇ nominees ZERO DARK THIRTY from 2013 and 2016’s LOVING. The Australian actor has tried his hand at nearly every genre you could imagine – from crime with ANIMAL KINGDOM and BLACK MASS to stylish period drama with Baz Luhrmann’s THE GREAT GATSBY and horror with IT COMES AT NIGHT. One of his earliest mainstream gigs was the STAR WARS prequels as Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen, whom he reprised on the Disney+ series, “Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

Some of the major supporting roles include Coach Tom Bolles (SPINNING GOLD star James Wolk), and rowboat designer George Pocock, played by Peter Guinness, who last worked with Clooney on an episode of Hulu’s “Catch-22.” Ulbrickson’s wife, Hazel, is played by Courtney Henggeler, who is also known from Netflix’s KARATE KID sequel series, “Cobra Kai.” Joe Rantz’s girlfriend, Joyce Simdars, is played by Hadley Robinson of 2019’s LITTLE WOMEN fame and Emmy-nominated character actor Chris Diamantopoulos stars as sports journalist Royal Brougham.

The Actors Who Play The Washington Rowers

Now for the men who star as the titular boys in the boat. First up, as Joe Rantz, we have Callum Turner, who is best known for playing Theseus Scamander in the FANTASTIC BEASTS movies. His closest friend, Roger Morris, is played by Sam Strike, while front stroke position-holder Don Hume is portrayed by Jack Mulhern, who previously starred in a hockey biopic called ODD MAN RUSH in 2020. As coxswain Bobby Moch, we have Luke Slattery from Steven Spielberg’s THE POST.

George “Shorty” Hunt is played by Bruce Herbelin-Earle, who is best known from the Netflix coming-of-age series, “Free Rein,” and portraying Jim McMillin, who made his feature film debut in Guy Ritchie’s KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD. Tom Varey – who once appeared in an episode of “Game of Thrones” – plays Johnny White, while Gordon “Gordy” Adam is played Joel Phillimore – who had small roles in 2012’s LES MISÉRABLES and TOLKEIN in 2019 – and Thomas Elms of Netflix’s “The Order” fame plays Charles “Chuck” Day.

Audiences may find themselves rooting for a competitive rowing team like they never would have expected when they see THE BOYS IN THE BOYS. See for yourself by checking out when it comes to an AMC Theatres location near you!

THE BOYS IN THE BOAT opens December 25

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