Remembering The Sandlot
“I’m just in awe of how much this movie means to so many people,” director David Mickey Evans says of celebrating The Sandlot 25 years after its theatrical release. In the current issue of EW, the filmmaker shares secrets of how the kids’ baseball flick came to be.
There was almost a completely different cast
“In the original script, the kids were younger — like 8 to 10 years old — so the casting director, Shari Rhodes, and I put together an ensemble of kids,” says Evans. “But when we finally got them all in the same room together, it was instantly obvious that it wasn’t going to work. They were like babies. We had to get older kids.”
Picking the right jet
Mike Vitar was the very first kid to audition for the role of Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez during the second round of casting, but Evans says he and Rhodes didn’t decide to cast Vitar until months later.
What a ham
The last actor cast was Patrick Renna, who played Ham. “We had someone that dropped out two days before we were leaving Los Angeles to go to Utah, where we shot the picture,” notes Evans. “But luckily I met Pat Renna. He was a godsend.”
Marty York (right) was originally cast as tobacco-chewing Bertram and Grant Gelt (left) was Yeah-Yeah, but eventually they switched roles. “Once we got everyone together, it became pretty obvious which of them belonged in which character,” says Evans.
Rookies of the year
Though Vitar was a skilled baseball player at the start of filming, Evans explains that “most of the baseball was done in cuts because most of them weren’t particularly good. But by the end of the 42-day shoot, they could turn a double play like the best Little League team in the country.”
That 'magic moment'...almost never happened
Evans says recasting the movie with 12- and 13-year-olds meant a “profound hormonal difference” that had to be addressed in the film. This change led to the addition of the scene where bespectacled Squints (Chauncey Leopardi, pictured) pretends to drown so he can kiss lifeguard Wendy Peffercorn (Marley Shelton). “Chauncey played a goofball in the movie but was the complete antithesis of that in real life. He was a little player,” says Evans.
“Before we shot the scene, I took him to the side and gave him one of the finest bits of direction I believe that I have ever uttered,” Evans says of working with Leopardi. “I said, ‘You listen to me.’ He’s looking up at me: ‘What?’ I said, ‘You keep your tongue in your mouth. You understand that?’ He said, ‘Okay. Okay. I will. I will.’ We got the kiss shot on the first take and we were about to move on when Chauncey goes, ‘Dave, I think I can do that better. Can we do that again?’ I look at Marley and she laughs and goes, ‘Yeah. We can do it one more time.'” For more Sandlot secrets, check out the special featurettes on the movie’s newly released 25th-anniversary collector’s edition Blu-ray.