Talking Sports With Cast Of ‘Intramural’

Making its debut at this year’s festival was Intramural, a college based comedy of a group of friends and their struggle to look ahead to a future beyond flag football.  Directed by Andrew Disney and featuring several up-and-coming comedians, the film has a smart and humorous way of breaking all the rules – and including every cliché – of a typical sports movie.

Intramural follows Caleb (played by Jake Lacy of The Office fame) as he tries to get out of the rut his life has become and get back to what he loves most – football. 

Caleb recruits his old teammates and gets them back together, but there are quite a few road blocks along the way.  Engaged to Vicky (played by Kate McKinnon of SNL) who disapproves of his football ways, Caleb quickly falls for someone else, someone (played by Nikki Reed of Twilight fame) who cheers him on along the way.

We recently got a chance to speak with several of the film’s co-stars – Reed, Gabriel Luna, Brian McElhaney and Nick Kocher – to get a better understanding of their sports background and to find out which sports they most enjoy watching – and playing.

CraveOnline: Were you guys athletic growing up?

Nikki Reed: I was a gymnast.

Gabriel Luna: I played a lot of sports in high school.  I’m originally from Texas, but I live in Los Angeles now, and I lettered in football, track and basketball.  I was an all-district strong safety.

Brian McElhaney: I played sports growing up in Atlanta, I played basketball, baseball and soccer, kind of because that’s what you do – every little boy did that.  I was a tiny bit athletic, but I kind of lost it.  Luckily, Gabe plays our quarterback in the movie and he knows how to throw the football.

Nick Kocher: I was pretty big into ultimate Frisbee, which is the sport you play, if all you can play is ultimate Frisbee.

Brian: They don’t call it a Frisbee, it’s a disc.

Crave: Do you guys play in any leagues now, like flag football or beer league softball, like in the film?

Nick: I’ve played a few games of drunken kickball, but that’s my sports career post-ultimate Frisbee.

Brian: Every spring I go, ‘Damn, you know what, I’m going to start playing racquetball, that sounds awesome.’  I say it for about three months but I’ve never once picked up a racquet or played the game.

Gabe: We are all really good at cornhole – that beanbag game.

Brian: Oh yeah, it’s in a lot of bars, I guess.  In Austin there’s a ton of them and we just got kind of obsessed with that.

Crave: Like well enough that the establishment should put your numbers up in the rafters?

Nick: That’s right!  We would wear uniforms to play cornhole in a bar and we’re all petitioning the Olympic committee and we will see how that goes.

Brian: We need your signature – we have three signatures so far.

Crave: We’re in, just send over the forms.  Do you guys watch much sports, do you follow any teams?

Nikki: Sports is something I appreciate with my father [laughs].  I watch basketball with him if I’m at home.  I used to follow the Miami Heat a lot and I suppose I do follow the Lakers because it’s such a huge part of our culture in LA.  I love horses and I love watching things like that, like polo but I’m not the girl who’s dying to go to every football game, I appreciate it but I’m not a diehard.

Gabe:  Well, I’m starting to watch a lot of soccer.  I’m shooting a show called Matador, were I play a soccer player, slash spy.  So soccer is more important.  Basketball playoffs just started – and go Spurs go.

Brian: I can name you almost the entire Atlanta Braves lineup from 1994 [laughs] but since then I can’t tell you anything.

Nick: I know nothing about sports, which makes conversations with girlfriends’ parents, or fathers, very difficult.

Crave: You better start taking up hunting, or fishing, or something.

Nick: Or golf, which I also have no ability to play.

Nick: Anytime there’s someone who beats the odds to win, I generally tend to enjoy.  Anytime they take a person who isn’t very athletic and they do something athletic, I find it very inspiring. 

Brian: I love all of those ‘90s kids movies, those baseball stories, that always had like abandoned or dead Dads – Rookie of the Year, Little Big League and Angels in the Outfield.

Gabe: Brian cried at Angels in the Outfield.

Brian: Angels in the Outfield is a very interesting movie.

Nick: Brian just hates his own father, so anytime he sees a father die, he’s really into it [laughs].

Brian: I’m excited… I love the Lion King, you know.

Gabe: I think we all agree there are a fair amount, like Major League, Necessary Roughness, Tin Cup – those are some good ones.

Crave: Is it difficult to portray an athlete if you’re not very athletic?

Brian: I think in general, yes.  But luckily, this is a movie about a bunch of misfit, ragtag, bad football players, so it was kind of easy to be that – which was great.  At the same time, we did have to make catches, and we did have to make plays work.  We had a coach on set, we had plays, we had playbooks and we practiced a lot.  Making it look at least kind of like we knew what we were doing was not that hard, it was just a lot of fun.  But I think if we were making a real sports movie…

Nick: I have found that it’s much easier to play sports when the defense’s movements are very specifically choreographed to let you run right by them.  So in that sense, it was really nice.  I’d like to play all sports games this way, where they’re carefully choreographed. 

Gabe: I can attest to both sides of that, I think.  As you imagine, in my program where I have to conceivably portray a professional soccer player – that regiment is completely different, with weights and sprints and shit like that.  But with Intramural, we had a lot more fun.  We hang out, we drink a lot of whiskey together and we get in fights off-the-set and that’s all the practice we really needed.

Nick: Gabe, who did you fight on set?

Gabe: Oh no, I didn’t fight anyone on set, it was that night… [laughs] I probably shouldn’t tell this story.

Crave: You mentioned sports clichés; do you have one that’s your favorite, or the cheesiest?

Nikki: I came with a fresh perspective and I just appreciated sports clichés for what they were.  I’m very much like Meredith, I just kind of blend in – I’m not a diehard sports fan, so I don’t have a favorite.

Nick: Absolutely, any time there hasn’t been a rule that an animal, a specific animal, can play the game, I love it when they find some loophole when they get the ostrich to play football or whatever it is [laughs].

Gabe: [Laughs] I think I like it when the unlikely hero is just thrust into the spotlight – like Varsity Blues or Rudy, or those kinds of things. Yeah.

Brian: I like the cliché when Christopher Lloyd tells Joseph Gordon-Levitt to tell him there’s an angel behind them, even when there’s not. 

Nick: You don’t know how many movies that happens in. 

Brian: I swear.  Maybe I’m watching the same movie over and over again? I don’t know.

Crave: What about when the brother dies and the twin brother comes in and does the same things?

Nick: [Laughs] yeah, that’s a good one.


Ed Miller is a contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillyEdMiller or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.

Photos courtesy of Intramural.