Gil Bellows
A Conversation with Gil Bellows
(Dan Heller)

Q: What is SECOND STRING about?
A: In SECOND STRING, the Buffalo Bills® have clinched home field advantage in the playoffs. The coach, played by Jon Voight, wants his defense to practice against a quarterback who has the same traits as the San Diego quarterback. My character, who has been out of football for some time, is hired to come in and practice with the team. The first string offensive squad goes out to celebrate their victory and ends up getting a rare form of food poisoning. I'm thrust into the position of starting quarterback, and the whole second string offense is now the starting team.

Q: Do you think there's more to this film than football?
A: SECOND STRING is a film that is, in essence, an ode to the great sports films of the past. Rocky and The Bad News Bears share a great similarity with this film: an underdog persevering against odds that are seemingly insurmountable and coming to a personal truth that the journey is one part of the story. A ragtag bunch of professional football players are coming together as a team and using that character to push them forward.

Q: How are you adjusting to the physical aspects of football?
A: TNT kindly accommodated me by setting up a coach specifically for football and a trainer to get me in the kind of shape that I felt would be necessary to portray this character as accurately as I possibly could. I've been doing drills with pads and a helmet and getting a feel for them so I could do this as effectively and convincingly as possible.

Q: Can you relate to what your character is going through - just trying to stay in the game?
A: One of the great things about playing a character like Dan Heller is that, from an emotional perspective, it isn't much of a stretch. I think actors are continually in a position of flux. They don't know where they stand. You're trying to maintain a level of professionalism, artistic integrity and excellence in your work, and you hope you will sustain it as time goes on. That gets more and more difficult for people as time progresses. The similarity with athletes is right on the money - you have to keep your humility. This is a character with a tremendous amount of humility and a sense of honor and struggle.

Q: What was it like working with Jon Voight?
A: The relationship between Coach Dichter and Dan Heller is a unique one that I think the audience will enjoy. For me, working with Jon Voight is just a personal thrill. I am a huge fan of his work. I grew up admiring the films he did and the way he went about his work. In SECOND STRING, I have this opportunity to go toe to toe and share the screen with him. It's a real pleasure and something I'm very proud to be doing. It's nice to meet people who you grew up admiring and find them to exceed your expectations.

Q: What was it like to work with a veteran football star like Doug Flutie?
A: It was great working with Doug. He's a great guy. If you follow football at all, you'd understand what he's accomplished in his career, even before turning pro. He's a true warrior, a great leader and, above all, a winner. For him to lend his presence to this film increases our credibility.

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