Among the many challenges in getting “The Blind Side” made -- a subject tackled in a recent Los Angeles Times piece -- was this not small (literally) issue: finding an actor who could play the part of Michael Oher, the beefy offensive lineman who now plays for the Baltimore Ravens.
"You can't exactly call up [Creative Artists Agency] and say send over a 6-foot-5, 350-pound teenager," jokes writer-director John Lee Hancock, who saw lots of teenagers who were tall, but too skinny. "He couldn't look like a basketball player. He has to look like a football player. The other thing is a lot of kids were 'girded for the street' and had a toughness about them,” while there was a gentleness to Oher’s character.And then there was this problem -- the confident Oher seen in TV interviews today bears no "resemblance to the Michael of the time of this story," Hancock says.
After a nationwide casting search (financed by Fox, which was initially developing the film), the production team wound up finding Oher's screen alter-ego -- Quinton Aaron in the Bronx, where he had been working as a security guard for such TV shows as "Law & Order." Says Hancock: "Quinton has a real sweetness to his face. He walked in the door and you wanted to hug him. I thought, 'We're going to be OK.'"
-- Rachel Abramowitz
Photo: Michael Oher. Credit: Rob Carr / Associated Press