Jerry Maguire Production Notes

Despite the basic intimacy of the story and characters, the production of Jerry Maguire actually had something of an epic feel. Shot in four months on more than 70 locations in the Los Angeles area, as well as Tempe and Phoenix, Arizona, the film was a happy challenge for the main talent behind-the-camera as well as the actors. Visually, Cameron Crowe wanted Jerry Maguire to be a true reflection of its characters and their milieu, and the task of photographing the proceedings fell to cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, whose gleaming halls of money and power, green fields of sportsplay and warm interiors of Dorothy Boyd’s home were all striking contrasts to his stark, black-and-white, Oscar¨-winning work for Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List.

Creating those myriad environments — ranging from the huge SMI office complex to the NFL Draft to the contrasting homes of Jerry, Dorothy, Rod, Avery, the Cushman family and others, as well as several airports, hotels,stadiums, press boxes and the other locations of Maguire’s constantly in-motion existence — was production designer Stephen Lineweaver, who sought to “embrace the power of images in advertising today” as a philosophical backdrop to his overall scheme. “And embracing those had lot to do with my input in the choice of color palette, which is a big part of what I do in terms of deciding what the design concept of a film is. Therefore, I chose a contrasting palette, one that related to sports advertising. The saturation of the orange basketball, the yellow jersey, the green football field.”

Lineweaver’s two major designed and studio-built interiors were the Sports Management International headquarters and Dorothy Boyd’s house, both constructed at Sony Studios in Culver City, California. The extraordinary SMI complex occupied nearly every inch of Sony Stage 23, an environment utterly complete in itself, rows of secretaries’ and assistants’ desks in a huge bullpen area surrounded by agents’ private offices, on two levels, with more than 40 desktop computers and monitors strategically placed around the giant room blaring various games and sports events.

Lineweaver admits that the SMI set is an homage to a favorite film of his and Cameron Crowe’s. “I’ve always loved the energy in the office set of Billy Wilder’s The Apartment,” notes the designer, “so the very basic concept for SMI was this huge bullpen. But even within the office structure, we always wanted activity in the forefront. So therefore, the layout came together fairly quickly, because the idea was that wherever we are in the SMI office, there’s kinetic energy, which is what this high-powered sports agency is all about. And of course, we have a brilliant set decorator, Clay Griffith, who decked it out with all of the accouterments: newspaper clippings, sports awards, life-sized cutouts of athletes, and so on. We had a completely separate graphic department on this film for all of the printed matter that we had to create, because Jerry Maguire’s world is about media as well as sports.”

Clay Griffith notes that he ask his crew to look at an individual desk “and make this somebody’s life.” On each desk would go office supplies, personal photographs, newspaper and magazine clippings, and a thousand other details that comprise a realistic setting. Griffith also set his talents to the 70-odd other sets for the film, both constructed from ground-up and “practical.” “The great thing about working with Cameron is that he knows exactly who each character is,” says Griffith, “including how much money they make and what the family inter-relationships are. Just trying to make the sets look real is very important to me, that it doesn’t go over the top and look too slick.”

“Another aspect which dictated the design of the SMI set,” continues Lineweaver, “was the idea that Cameron had of these two ants, Jerry Maguire and Dorothy Boyd, ultimately being swatted off the face of SMI. So we had to be able to get high enough on the set to get an aerial view of the ant farm, so to speak.”

Also meticulously coordinated were Betsy Heimann’s costume designs. “For sports agents like Jerry Maguire, their expensive suits are their shield, their armor,” notes Heimann. “They’re totally contained in their clothing. But as Jerry sees his life slipping away from him, so does the veneer of the suit. First, the tie loosens. Then the tie comes off. Then the shirt is untucked. Now the sleeves are rolled up. Then the shirt is off and he’s just in a T-shirt. It’s a devolution and an evolution at the same time, as he becomes more human and accessible.

“In Jerry Maguire, color is power,” continues Heimann. “A lot of color is a lot of power. The only time in this movie that you’ll see saturated colors is in scenes that revolve around athletes. For example, Rod Tidwell’s wardrobe verges on the comic but it never crosses the line. It’s vaguely ridiculous, but it’s also realistic. It’s exactly what somebody like Rod would actually wear. He’s a flashy guy who wants to be noticed, hence the pumpkin-colored jogging suit and all of his gold jewelry.

“With Dorothy Boyd, we wanted to do the working mother thing. She’s a girl with a sense of style, but it doesn’t cost her a lot of money to look good. And because she has to go to work at SMI, she has some nice suits and sports coats, which she wears with black jeans and cowboy boots. Avery Bishop, on the other hand, dresses for success. She’s got a hot body and a hot personality, so she’s a little more rock and roll, but she still looks classy.”

Heimann’s task was considerable, having to outfit actors portraying the 110-odd speaking roles in the film, as well as making sure that the thousands of extras were appropriately attired.

And thousands of extras would be required for the hard-charging football sequences of Jerry Maguire, filmed over the course of a sizzling hot summer week at Tempe’s Sun Devil Stadium on the campus of Arizona State University, home of the Arizona Cardinals, not-so-coincidentally the pro team on which Rod Tidwell plays. (1996 was quite a year for Sun Devil Stadium. First the Super Bowl, then Tom Cruise and the rest of the Jerry Maguire company).

It was the task of second unit director, football and stunt coordinator Allan Graf to “cast” his football teams which would comprise the movie’s Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. Graf held an open “audition” in Phoenix that attracted 200 potential movie players, selecting 38 from that grouping. Notes Graf, “We were looking for the pro player who was a little bit better than the college player, and most of these guys had some kind of pro experience. Some were from Canadian football, or National Football or Arena Football, but all of them had at least played for one, maybe two years.”

For the various games depicted in the film, Graf had to choreograph eleven complex, demanding plays. “You can’t fake it,” insists Graf. “Football is very real. Everybody had to go full speed and look like they’re really playing. And we only had one week for practice before we got in front of the cameras.”

Graf, along with assistant “coach” Mark Ellis, not only had to prepare their movie team, but had another component to deal with as well: Cuba Gooding, Jr., who as Rod Tidwell was a crucial element of the overall sequences. Gooding, who played some high school football, whipped himself into prime physical condition before filming began, but would also be sent through the paces by Graf along with the rest of his “team.”

“Cuba was already a great athlete, which certainly helped. He caught on real well, and starting looking like a wide receiver. And he took some real hits, not only in practice, but also during filming.”

As did Crowe and Cruise, Gooding did some rigorous research of his own. “Anybody can be physical on the field, but it’s my job as an actor to bring humanity to the role of this athlete named Rod Tidwell,” says the actor. “I was interested to study how the players walk from the huddle to the line, the way they get up after they get hit, and the way they put the ball down. I drove my teammates crazy, because I’d stare at every little thing they did. I wanted to find a way to show audiences the little things that they can’t see from the stands.”

For the all-important climactic night game between the Cardinals and Cowboys, the production attracted 15,000 local Arizonans, who were more than ready for some football, spending eight hours watching Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and the movie teams hard at work. At one point, the crowd went wild when Tom Cruise, in a particularly ebullient display of team spirit, performed some wicked spur-of-the-second dance moves on the field to share his own enthusiasm with the assembled.

Although, as Tom Cruise points out, the essential story of Jerry Maguire could be set against any backdrop, Cameron Crowe was determined to create as authentic a sports world as possible by enlisting no fewer than 37 major personalities to make well-integrated cameo appearances in the film. These personages from the wide world of sports included such noted pro football players as Troy Aikman, Drew Bledsoe, Johnnie Morton, Herman Moore, Ki-Jana Carter and the Arizona Cardinals’ own Rob Moore; NFL coaches Wayne Fontes, Richie Kotite and Mike White; team owners Jeff Lurie, Jim & Meg Irsay; ABC Monday Night Football commentators Frank Gifford, Al Michaels and Dan Dierdorf; ESPN sportscasters Mel Kiper and Mike Tirico; ESPN’s own Roy Firestone; and sports agents Leigh Steinberg, Jeffrey Moorad and Drew Rosenhaus. Other personalities making cameo appearances in the film are Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner as Scully, Jerry Maguire’s boss at SMI, and Eric Stoltz as the owner of the swank cigar club where Jerry’s “friends” give him a lavish bachelor party.

As always with Cameron Crowe’s films, music provides a crucial emotional landscape on which the story plays out. Crowe — whose previous life as a journalist for Rolling Stone plugged him into the contemporary music scene once and forever — turned to two longtime associates to assist with the compilation of the soundtrack. One, noted singer/songwriter Nancy Wilson of the popular sister act Heart, would compose the theme song, “We Meet Again (Theme from Jerry Maguire),” and “Sandy.” It might be added that Wilson is a particularly close associate of the filmmaker’s — she’s also married to him.

Music supervisor Danny Bramson, whose previous collaboration with Crowe resulted in the smash hit soundtrack for Singles, arranged for the usage of a number of evocative songs by a diverse group of artists. These would include Bruce Springsteen’s haunting “Secret Garden,” The Who’s raucous “The Magic Bus” (which Crowe often played on set between takes as a mood-setter for the scene in which Jerry authors the Mission Statement), Paul McCartney’s “Momma Miss America” and “Singalong Junk,” Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From the Storm,” Elvis Presley’s “Pocketful of Rainbows” and Rickie Lee Jones’ “The Horses.”

Courtesy of TriStar Pictures