Luke Wilson And Vinessa Shaw Feel Fortuitous To Play A Devoted Real Life Couple In 12 Mighty Orphans [Exclusive Interview]

Luke Wilson as Rusty Russell in 12 MIGHTY ORPHAN | Image by David McFarland. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Luke Wilson and Vinessa Shaw play the couple that comes in to embrace the 12 Mighty Orphans.


12 MIGHTY ORPHANS tells the true story of the Mighty Mites, the football team of a Fort Worth orphanage who, during the Great Depression, went from playing without shoes—or even a football—to playing for the Texas state championships. Over the course of their winning season these underdogs and their resilient spirit became an inspiration to their city, state, and an entire nation in need of a rebound, even catching the attention of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The architect of their success was Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson), a legendary high school coach who shocked his colleagues by giving up a privileged position so he could teach and coach at an orphanage. Few knew Rusty’s secret: that he himself was an orphan.  Recognizing that his scrawny players couldn’t beat the other teams with brawn, Rusty developed innovative strategies that would come to define modern football.

12 Mighty Orphans
Left to Right: (Back): Preston Porter, Woodrow Luttrell, Sampley Barinaga, Jacob Lofland (Middle): Levi Dylan, Luke Wilson, Martin Sheen, Manuel Tapia, Austin Shook, Michael Gohlke (Front): Slade Monroe, Jake Austin Walker, Bailey Roberts, Tyler Silva

A mighty coincidence to have a native Texan to play this admirable character, Rusty Russell. Luke Wilson discovered his interest in acting while attending Occidental College in Los Angeles. He made his debut in 1994 with the film Bottle Rocket that was co-written by his older brother Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson. Since then he has been seen in other films like The Royal Tenenbaums, Old School and Vacancy among others. Wilson co-directed, wrote and starred in Satellite Beach, The Wendell Baker Story and won an Emmy for producing the documentary Tower.  

Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson) school photo.

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Vinessa Shaw is a child actress and her big break was in Disney’s 1993 Hocus Pocus and was also in 1992’s Ladybugs. While she attended Barnard College she joined the cast of Eyes Wide Shut and consequently decided to pursue acting again. Since then she has been seen in several films like The Hills Have Eyes, 3:10 to Yuma, Big Miracle, Puncture and several others. She was last seen in The Blazing World that premiered during Sundance earlier this year. 

12 Mighty Orphans
Wayne Knight as Frank Wynn, Vinessa Shaw as Juanita Russell

I had the opportunity to speak to Luke Wilson and Vinessa Shaw via Zoom to discuss their participation in the 12 Mighty Orphans. Shaw talked about her character as Juanita Russell who also made a difference in real life in teaching young girls about careers. Wilson shared how he prepared for his role as Rusty Russell with the voice recording he received to learn about the football legend. 

12 Mighty Orphans will be available Nationwide June 18th

Source: LRM Exclusive


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Nancy Tapia

Nancy Tapia has been an interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review Media since 2011. Currently a member of the Hollywood Critics Association. Former UCLA Bruin specializes in Management. Covering entertainment has been an unexpected lively journey. Always open to the next, new experience. From solo traveling to adding a new peak to her personal 100 Hike Challenge. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @inancytapia

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