It wasn’t easy for Dr. Bennet Omalu to be the man who discovered CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) and bring it to the National Football League’s attention, and now director Peter Landesman is taking the issue another step further by depicting the effects of head trauma in football on the big screen. Concussion stars Will Smith as Dr. Omalu and covers the discovery of CTE and how the NFL responded to the information.
With the film due in theaters on Christmas Day, I got the chance to sit down with Landesman to discuss why the project scored a green light so quickly, why Smith couldn’t go “full Omalu” in the movie, whether or not the NFL was involved in any respect, and much more. You can catch it all in the video interview below. Concussion also stars Alec Baldwin, Luke Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Arliss Howard, David Morse and Albert Brooks.
- 00:19 – Getting the green light very quickly.
- 01:06 – Is making a movie for both football fans and non-football fans a concern?
- 02:01 – What he learned from test screening.
- 02:40 – Was the NFL involved at all?
- 03:34 – Keeping the material truthful and respecting the real people represented in the film.
- 04:46 – Showing the movie to real football players including Chris Borland.
- 05:44 – This movie is 100% “spiritually true.”
- 06:58 – Why Will Smith couldn’t go full Dr. Omalu.
- 07:37 – On the lighting in the film and how it helps tell the story in a subliminal way.
Here’s the official synopsis for Concussion:
Will Smith stars in Concussion, a dramatic thriller based on the incredible true David vs. Goliath story of American immigrant Dr. Bennet Omalu, the brilliant forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma, in a pro player and fought for the truth to be known. Omalu’s emotional quest puts him at dangerous odds with one of the most powerful – and beloved – institutions in the world.