The Makers of 'Rudy' Come Back Together 25 Years Later to Celebrate the Musical Score of Football's Most Enduring Film
The making of the film Rudy is nearly as improbable as the story of the film's namesake underdog. The real life Rudy Ruettiger overcame the seemingly impossible to play on the Notre Dame squad, but years later when he asked for a few days off from his job at an Indiana car dealership to fly to California to pitch the film, he was told "take all the time you want" and then was promptly fired. Ruettiger persisted and both Orion Pictures and Columbia Pictures greenlit the movie, only to let it linger for years before dumping it. By the time the film's director David Anspaugh, writer Angelo Pizzo and producer Cary Woods got TriStar Pictures to sign off on the project, the three had one more long shot in their playbook, asking famed composer Jerry Goldsmith to score the 1993 film.
"Rudy was not a big-budget movie and Jerry Goldsmith was a gigantic, award-winning composer" who had scored more than a hundred films including Chinatown, Alien and L.A. Confidential before passing away in 2004, Woods told Billboard. "He was a little out of our range, but we sent him the script and he loved it and he agreed to do it, much to our surprise and excitement."
The soundtrack for Rudy, which drew inspiration from Irish hymnals and the sounds of the Notre Dame marching band, was celebrated in Los Angeles on Saturday during Rudy in Concert, a live screening of USA Today's "best football movie of all time" accompanied with an 80-piece orchestra led by conductor Justin Freer, president and co-founder of CineConcerts which produced the event. Prior to the screening, the original team behind the film including Pizzo, Woods and Anspaugh, along with producer Rob Fried, actor Sean Astin and the film's inspiration, 70-year-old Ruettiger, joined Goldsmith's wife Carol Goldsmith for a reunion in a green room at LA's Microsoft Theater, which hosted the film screening and concert.
"Rudy is a powerful movie, but Jerry's score is like a religous communication," Astin told Billboard backstage, prior to taking the stage for a pre-concert panel looking at the impact the score had on Rudy. "It has these amazing harmonics and operates on a frequency and level that you don't see in most films."
It's also completely changed the trajectory of Ruettinger's life, taking him from hometown hero to a nationally known sports icon who who stars in the Amazon documentary Rudy Ruettiger: The Walk On and delivers 40-plus motival speeches a year. Ruettiger is energetic, authentically excited and calls everyone he encounters "coach," whether they're publicists or the grandkids of one of his many friends. He says he remebers watching Goldsmith and his wife Carol the first time they saw the score synced with the film, saying "they were standing hand in the hand, and Jerry had tears coming down his cheek."
Developing the live performance of the score took CineConcerts more than a year to bring together, explained company co-founder Brady Beaubien, whose partner Freer was a student of Goldsmith at UCLA. After locating the original score, Freer had to piece the music of the film back together, often by ear, while reorchestrating musical elements of Rudy that aren't included in the official flm score.
Freer is hoping to tour Rudy in Concert around North America, working with local musicians in each city while relying on local and national promoters to help produce the project. CineConcerts also developed a live performance for "Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage" highlighting Goldsmith's work on the popular sci-fi television and films, visiting more than 100 markets. Beaubien is hoping for similiar success with Rudy in Concert and is working to sell the show to promoters and art presenters with help from their booking agent Michael Cherella at WME.
"We're finding that people remember the movie, but they're not sure if putting it in a 2,500 concert hall is going to work," Beaubien says. "But I've found that if you really believe in a project and the music is super powerful and the movie itself us uplifting and has a great message, that people will come see it."
Astin said he hopes the concert and accompanying tour raise awareness about Goldsmith's work, which has been honored with dozens of awards, including 18 Oscars nominations, although he has only won the prize once for the 1976 film The Omen.
"He didn't get an Oscar nomination for Rudy, and I was just heartbroken by that," Astin recalls. "It's an amazing thing when your body of work is so familiar that people might miss something that is next level. Movies like Rudy fit within a genre that is inspirational and shaped around storytelling, but not aways memorable. The score of Rudy is all together different. There's something going on with his music and you can see it in the musicians who perform the material who haven't heard it before. There's an electricity to their reaction that is a undeniable."