FOR ONE THING, THE CASTING IS DIFFERENT. I CAN SEE THIS AS A BREAKOUT ROLE FOR ALEX SHAFFER [WHO PLAYS RUNAWAY TEEN WRESTLER KYLE], IN THE SAME WAY THATTHE STATION AGENT WAS FOR PETER DINKLAGE ANDTHE VISITORWAS FOR RICHARD JENKINS. Some people say he's sort of Sean Penn as Spicoli. And he's got this early Nicolas Cage thing. It's definitely just his own rhythm, and you can't shake the kid out of it. Young people have been really connecting with him. Last night, my 13-year-old cousin was just dying to meet him and take a picture. It was definitely that kind of crush thing.
HE'S NEVER ACTED BEFORE? I knew I needed a wrestler. I didn't wanna fake that. So I made a decision early on in the casting process that I don't want to see any actors for this role, just wrestlers. I saw him in this crazy match where he beat the guy 5-3. The fans were going crazy, coaches are screaming. Alex has such an unusual form when he wrestles, which you catch a little bit of in the movie.
I COULD TAKE HIM. Hah, yeah, that's what Bobby [Cannavale, who plays Mike's pal Terry] said. We'd be at a match just hanging out waiting for a shot set-up, and Bobby says, "I think I could take him." I'm like, "Dude, not a good idea. Don't do it." He's like, "Dude, I'm twice, three times the kid's size, I'll crush 'em." I'm like, "I wouldn't recommend it." Then I hear, "OH, OW, OW!" I look over and see Bobby pinned on the ground. Kid's so fast, it's got nothing to do with strength.
>> READ: "Review: Win Win" by Peter Keough <<
, Sean Penn, Paul Giamatti, Nicolas Cage, More