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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Chat wrap with D.B. Sweeney



 Eight Men Out
 

Welcome to ESPN.com's moderated chat room. On Tuesday, actor D.B. Sweeney will drop by to take your questions in chat about his role as Shoeless Joe Jackson in the movie Eight Men Out.

ESPN Classic is presenting a special on the 80th anniversary of baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banning eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, July 31 at 7 p.m. ET. (actual anniversary is August 3).

Sweeney, who originally wanted to be a pro baseball player until an unfortunate motorcycle accident in 1980, brought Shoeless Joe back to life on the big screen. He starred alongside John Cusack, Michael Rooker, Christopher Lloyd, Gordon Clapp and David Strathairn in the story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox, latered dubbed the "Black Sox" when it was discovered several members of the team were paid off by gamblers to throw the World Series. To prepare for the role, Sweeney learned to hit lefthanded and traveled with a minor league team to experience the life of a baseball player.

Sweeney won't be stopping by until Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET, but feel free to leave your questions now and we will save them for his arrival.

For a list of upcoming ESPN.com chat guests, visit the Community section.

Moderator: Mr. Sweeney is scheduled to arrive shortly.

Moderator: Mr. Sweeney has been delayed. We will have an update for you by 2:30.

D.B. Sweeney: Hey, this is D.B. Sweeney. Thanks for the questions and let's get started.


Say it ain't so: Hey D.B! I've always enjoyed your work. Do you think Joe should be in the Hall of Fame?

D.B. Sweeney: Well, that's getting right to the point. I love Shoeless Joe Jackson, the myth of Shoeless Joe Jackson. It is more interesting that he is the best player not in the Hall of Fame. If you put him in, he's just one of the top ten. After all, he's not Babe Ruth.


Jeff in L.A.: D.B., in preparing for and playing the role of Shoeless Joe, was there anything that you learned about Jackson that came as a big suprise to you?

D.B. Sweeney: Yes. What I learned about Joe is that he's probably not as dumb as portrayed in the move. He, along with his wife, ran a sussessful business. He was not this sort of idiot, gifted player.


But Shoeless Joe in the HOF: D.B. - Did you see Shoeless Joe's bat is up for auction? Can you loan me 500 grand?

D.B. Sweeney: I think it's gonna go for more than that. Some people are estimating it might go for as much as Mark McGwire's 70th home run baseball which went for around $3 million, I think.


Jessica: Is it "fun" to make a sports movie since you are a sports fan or is it just another job?

D.B. Sweeney: The longer I work as an actor the more I realize how lucky I am. It's especially gratifying to have done a film like "Eight Men Out" because it's hard not to have fun when there are so many bats and balls around. What really makes it fun for an actor is when the script is good.


David B. (Orlando): Did you learn to skate for "The Cutting Edge? Which movie was tougher to train for?

D.B. Sweeney: I did learn to skate for "The Cutting Edge." In a sense, it was harder even than learning how to hit left handed. Skating is tough to pick up when you are a grown up.


John, Lomita CA: Hi D.B.

You are one of my favorite actors and it's a real treat to touch base with you. My question is this: What did you think of Ray Liotta's portrayal of Shoeless Joe in "Field of Dreams," which, I believe, came out a year after "Eight Men Out"? It seems that you had very different approaches to the character of Shoeless Joe, and I'm wondering if you felt that one portrayal was more 'accurate' than the other. Personally, I loved them both.

Thanks!

John



D.B. Sweeney: I think Ray is a great actor. I'm a little too close to the subject to have any objectivity. Thanks for the kind words.


Todd; Atlanta: One of the things that impressed me about the movie was the action sequence. How painstaking was it to make sure that everything looked authentic from the uniforms to the actually action sequences

D.B. Sweeney: Everybody from the director, John Sayles, to the producers, Midge Sanford and Sarah Pillsbury, to all the good actors, to the crew loved the story and the idea about doing the story. Everyone was careful to make sure we did things right. So I think that shows up on the screen. The problem with most Hollywood movies is they don't give the director enough control. Sayles had control and made excellent choices, which is why it turned out so well.


Garth, Los Angeles: D.B. - Who on the set was really the best ball player? Sorry if this was a repeat, but was not sure if the question got through the first time.

D.B. Sweeney: I'm going to exclude myself. I'll say Charlie Sheen. He's very serious about his baseball. John Cusack worked hard. David Strathairn, god bless him, had developed a little of a knuckleball by the end of filming.


Steve: Which do chicks dig more - athletes or actors?

D.B. Sweeney: There is a story I heard once about Bret Favre at a bar an attractive woman and a well known actor walks over. She starts talking to the actor. Bret supposedly turns to his buddy and says S.A.G. (Screen Actors Guild) wins. I never met Brett Farve but that story makes me like him. But I must say it's neither. Rock & Rollers get all the girls.


Neil Vigliotta (Shoreham,NY): Of all your roles, how would you rate this one in regard to difficulty?

D.B. Sweeney: Vigliotta what are you doing home, get a job! The most difficult roles are the movies that people haven't seen. It's hard to be an actor when the script is bad. If you are really curious to see whether an actor can act, rent a movie that sucks and see if the actor is good. Check something out from the deep bins at Blockbuster. It's much more difficult to be good in a bad movie than bad in a good one. Now that I have entirely evaded your question, I should answer it. The most difficult role I had was in "A Day in October," because I was acting with Danish actors who were not fluent in English.


Becky (Denver): So, which MLB team(s) are you a fan of right now?

D.B. Sweeney: I'm always a fan of the Red Sox. And now with Nomar back, watch out.


Madison (Casey, NJ): DB - if you could play any athlete, who would it be and why? What actress would you most like to date?

D.B. Sweeney: That's a good question. Lance Armstrong has a good first couple of Acts going. We'll see how his post-racing career goes for a third Act. He would be an interesting character. I think a lot of the superstar athletes these days are getting more and more bland. I guess that's a result of them being overpaid and insulated from the real world.


Peter (Chicago): Somewhere, it mentioned you were once planning to be a professional baseball player. How far did you get, and what made you decide to try acting instead?

D.B. Sweeney: Like a lot of kids I would have loved to play baseball for a long time. I was a good high school and college player, but I hurt my knee as a freshman and it severely hampered what little speed I had so I switched over to acting.


Lynn (Chicago): What do you think of the impact that characters in movies & athletes have on children? Do you think people in the spotlight should be good role models?

D.B. Sweeney: I think that athletes and actors have a lot of privileges. But that does not mean they are obligated to be role models. However, if they break the law they should be held to the same standard as everyone else.


Eric (Seattle): D.B., Do you have anything new comming out soon, or that you are working on now?

D.B. Sweeney: I did a film last year with Keanu Reeves called "Hard Ball." I think it's a pretty good movie. Keanu is good in it. Also, I did a film for ABC which is currently, unfortunately, called "Superfire." It's a fun movie -- it will be on in January, hopefully, with another title. It's about smoke jumpers.


George in Green Bay: Hey D.B. Who were your sports idols growing up and do you still look up to them today?

D.B. Sweeney: Carl Yastrzemski was my favorite player. In football, Joe Namath. In basketball, Earl Monroe. In hockey, Rod Gilbert. I got to do a Broadway play with Joe Namath. We did our Broadway debut together. That was a kick.

D.B. Sweeney: Thanks for all your questions. Whether Shoeless Joe gets in the Hall or not, you should take a trip to Cooperstown, it's a great place.

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