All Square is a modern day Bad News Bears-eque film with a twist. The film stars Michael Kelly as John – a former baseball player turned bookie – who befriends a young kid named Brian (Jesse Ray Sheps). Things turn awry when John “Zibs” uses Brian’s baseball games as his own personal business model. Taking place in a Maryland suburb the film highlights sports rivalry and gambling while tackling parental competitiveness within children’s sports. The film first premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and also stars Pamela Adlon, Josh Lucas, Tom Everett, and Yeardley Smith. All Square is directed by John Hyams who is most notably known for Z Nation, The Originals, and Chicago P.D.
Check out the exclusive interview with main stars Michael Kelly and Jesse Ray!
The Knockturnal: Congrats on the film! How did you guys prepare for this role? Are any of you guys baseball fans?
Jesse Ray: I’m a die-hard Yankees fan and since most of the people in the movie are Braves fans, I didn’t really like it, but I had to go with it. And to prepare for it I kinda had to envision I that didn’t really have a father figure in my life because my dad is really kind and stuff. In the movie, Brian doesn’t really have anybody to look up to so it’s really just a matter of envisioning what it would be like if you don’t have somebody there for you.
The Knockturnal: Can you tell me a little bit about the relationship between John and Brian?
Jesse Ray: Well, Brian kind of has a void in his life because he doesn’t have somebody to look up to. When Michael comes along he probably isn’t the best father figure considering he gives beers and all different kinds of stuff to me, but um, he’s still somebody that Brian can look up to. So I really think it’s about their relationship in the movie.
The Knockturnal: Michael what drew you to this particular role?
Michael Kelly: My buddy wrote it and sent it to me. I loved it from the very first time I read it and called him and I was like dude we have to make this movie. It was one of those things where as an actor you know and you read something you either identify with it or you don’t. You want to say those words or you don’t. And for me it was everything. I was like I gotta play this role. Also for me, it was an incredible opportunity to something different than I had been doing for many years now. For me, it was just such a treat.
The Knockturnal: Jesse what do you think about the moment Brian finally got to pitch.
Jesse Ray: Let’s be honest, I’m probably not the best athlete in the world. During that pitch, like during the first bad pitch that was kinda just me being natural. It was really bad but during the good ones, those were probably lucky shots. But it still worked out and the movie looks great.
Michael Kelly: I disagree I think he did good. Definitely better from the start of the film to the end of the film.
The Knockturnal: What was it like working with the director?
Michael Kelly: Ah man, incredible! I’ve known John for almost all my time in New York (20 years) and we had only ever done a little short together or you know just messed around doing things and we had been saying for years and years we’ve got to do something together. And this came along and it was perfect because our mutual friend Jimmy wrote it. So for me to get to collaborate with John was incredible you know. We talked at length about [you know] it was his idea that John wear shorts for the entire film. It’s like such a great thing that it said about the character though right? A guy who never puts on a pair of pants and it helped me develop the character so it was incredible. And I can’t wait to do it again.
The Knockturnal: What would you guys say the overall message of this film is? What would you want the audience to take from the movie?
Jesse Ray: I’d probably say don’t go looking at people and expect something and don’t look at somebody and say oh he can’t be a good person because, in the end, everyone can be a good person they just need to be worked into.
All Square hits theaters and on demand October 12th. Watch the trailer here: