The Real Story Of Michael Oher, The Man Behind 'The Blind Side'
When the film The Blind Side made its debut in 2009, it was an instant success and even scored an Oscar nomination for Best Film. However, it didn't satisfy the person that the film was based on. The real Michael Oher felt the movie didn't truly represent his life. Why?
1. A Different Personality
The movie portrays Michael Oher as a reserved, overly serious, and even uptight person. But in fact, Michael Oher is quite the opposite - he never takes himself too seriously. When he has to do something to excel at his sport, he does it with a smile and a roaring laugh.
2. Oher's Life Before the Tuohy Family
In the film, Oher had been homeless and lacked any real family. But he actually comes from a large family with parents and 12 children. However, his mother neglected them in support of alcohol and drugs. Meanwhile, his father was in jail and was eventually murdered there.
3. When Oher Met the Tuohy Family
In the film, when the Tuohy family first encounters Oher left out in the rain, their relationship begins. In fact, the family did not pick him up at that moment. Some time passed, Leigh Anne visited Oher at his new school and bought him new clothes. The transition came gradually.
4. Leigh Anne Tuohy's Day Job
In real life, Leigh Anne Tuohy worked as an interior designer for the Washington Redskins quarterback, Patrick Ramsey. In the film, the fact is not mentioned outright, but Leigh Anne did mention Patrick Ramsey. It was just a well-hidden Easter egg.
5. Racial Tension
In the film, race is mentioned several times, though, the matter receives only cursory attention. In real life, there was a lot more at stake. The Tuohy family were not so pleased to adopt Oher as they tended to be racist at times. Still, Oher managed to fit in with the family well.
6. The True Story Behind His Mentor
In the film, the nurturing Leigh Anne Tuohy ultimately instills in Michael Oher an instant love for football. While Leigh Anne did play a major role in shaping the young football star, Oher did not gain all his training and all he needed to learn about the sport from her.
7. When Michael Met Sean
In the film, Sean Tuohy first meets Oher at one of Collins' volleyball games where Oher is cleaning up the rubbish left behind by hungry spectators. In real life, Sean first met Oher at his school. He then dropped in to make sure that Oher wouldn't go hungry there.
8. Michael's Time at Briarcrest Christian School
In the film, the reluctant teachers instantly change their mind about allowing Oher in when they witness how he manages to open up to them. In reality, he had to complete some rigorous academic assignments before he could be officially admitted.
9. More Concerns from Oher Himself
To this day, Michael Oher is not a huge fan of the film because too many view him as the player the movie portrayed. To his dismay, few people see him as he wants to be seen: a serious athlete who came a long way to achieve what he once thought was an unreachable dream.
10. The Truth Comes Out
In 2011, Michael Oher penned an autobiography, "I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond". In it, he gives a more thorough look into his childhood, corrects the misconception the film portrayed, and expands upon some stories that the film left unresolved.
11. A Legacy for a Champion
The Blind Side not only made a name for itself at prestigious award events like the Oscars, but it broke a significant record at the box office. Produced on a budget of less than $30 million, the film ended up grossing $309.2 million at the box office - the highest grossing sports film of all time.
12. Sandra Bullock Almost Was Not Leigh Anne Tuohy
Sandra Bullock won an Oscar and Golden Globe for her exemplary performance as Leigh Anne Tuohy. But she declined the role several times for religious reasons, until she met the real-life woman. Other choices for the part included Julia Roberts, but she too felt it was not right for her.
13. Sandra Bullock's Biggest Break Yet
Sandra Bullock was a nobody when she starred in The Blind Side, though she already had plenty of credits to her name. The movie pushed her into stardom, coming along with some major awards and a percentage of the staggering $300 million profits.
14. Sandra Bullock Cares for Michael Oher
Sandra Bullock actually still plays quite the role in Michael Oher's life. She is incredibly enthusiastic about Oher's progress as a football star and cheers him on. Sandra checks in on Oher from time to time, and can be found at many of Oher's games.
15. Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher
The film's lovers and devout football fans can see how Quinton Aaron might pass as the football legend Michael Oher. They have the same build, are pretty close in height, and even close in age with Quinton Aaron being born in 1984 and Michael Oher in 1986.
16. From Security Guard to Hollywood Actor
Believe it or not, Quinton Aaron was actually a security guard when he was cast as Michael Oher, his first lead role. He didn't expect to land the role. When he auditioned, he gave his business card to director John Lee Hancock, offering to provide security services on the set during filming.
17. Mighty Preparation for a Mighty Role
To ready himself to play a convincing Michael Oher on the big screen, Quinton Aaron did plenty of work. He trained with a real, top-notch college football team and lost 100 pounds in just three months to get in shape for the role. Aaron had "done everything" to prove he was fit for the part.
18. Firsts for Quinton Aaron
Playing Michael Oher brought Quinton Aaron some firsts in his life. For the first time, he played a leading role in an Oscar-nominated film; for the first time, he flew on an airplane when second auditioned for the part; for the first time, he visited the sparkling city of Los Angeles.
19. Close to Reality
The movie is filled with plenty of special cameos. Many of the coaches portrayed in the film are actual coaches, including Michael Oher's real-life high school football coach. Other cameos played by actual people involved in the story of Michael Oher include the real S.J. Tuohy.
20. Doubts from Briarcrest
Briarcrest Christian School authorities were not enthused about the school's name being used in the film. They worried that it would sour the school's reputation as the teachers were shown to dismiss Michael Oher's academic abilities in the film. But in the end, the film did not dishonor the school's name in any way.
21. The Book that Inspired It All
The movie was inspired by a book written by Michael Lewis, entitled "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game". It actually told the story of the lives and careers of someone other than Michael Oher. Michael was only one part of the book's storyline.
22. Wunderbar Blind Side
Before a film is released, it's often only known by its working title in order to disguise its identity. In the case of The Blind Side, movie theaters gave it a very vague German title, Wunderbar, which means "wonderful" in English. Were they already anticipating the film's success?
23. Picture Perfect
On Thanksgiving Day, the Tuohy family gather at a crowded table in a warm house and share a big family meal. When Leigh Anne went to set down the turkey, the scene suddenly resembles the famous painting, Freedom from Want. Intentional or not, it definitely captured a nice moment of family togetherness.
24. Memphis in Georgia?
The film as well as the real life story of Michael Oher took place in Memphis, Tennessee. But sharp-eyed viewers might have noticed that in one scene, while at the Big and Tall store, Leigh Anne and Michael walk past a sign that says "Georgia Lottery PLAY HERE." Strange...
25. Timeline Troubles
During the scene at the recruiting office, Tom Lemming is given a DVD of Michael Oher that is resting atop a magazine with football player Bryce Brown on the cover, showing him playing in the Army All-American game of 2009. However, the film takes place in 2003 and 2004 and back then, Bryce Brown was only 12 and 13.
26. Date Discrepancies
A few more time discrepancies are to be found in the movie. For example, in the film, Sean Tuohy is shown using the Safari browser on a Windows operating system, which only became available in 2007. Another example is with the car Leigh Anne drives, a BMW 750LI, which only came out in 2006.
27. No Privacy
In real life, only legal guardians or those with power of attorney are provided access to a student's files. But in the film, Leigh Anne, who had not legally adopted Michael Oher yet, was given access to his files at his school in order to monitor his progress.
28. Waterloo Whoops!
In the scene where Michael is shown taking a history test, the camera shows a question about the Battle of Waterloo and where it happened. Michael answered that it took place in Germany and the teacher marked this answer as the correct one. In reality, it took place in what was then The Netherlands and now Belgium.