Have you seen Real Steel yet? If so, what did you think about it? If you haven’t seen the movie, what are you waiting for? This weekend is a great time to see the movie. It’s a must see film, most especially on the big screen. Sure, you could wait for the movie to come out on Netflix or RedBox, but honestly, this is a movie that is best seen on the big screen.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard. He served as the boxing “guru” and fight choreographer for the film. Because of this the boxing scenes with the robots look very realistic. These are NOT “Rock ’em Sock ’em Robot” moves. The robots in the film box like real people.
Sugar Ray was really nice to talk to. In fact, he’s a great story teller. He told us a story about a dinner he had with Nelson Mandela. He was really interesting to listen to. I’m sure we could have listened to him talk all day. Sadly, time was of the essence so we had to make the most of our limited time with him.
Here are a few highlights from the Q&A session with Sugar Ray Leonard.
Q: So from the movie do you ever think like 10 years from now that could ever happen? Robotic boxing?
SR : You know it could happen in 5 years, 10 years? I don’t think so but in 20 years it’s plausible. I think it because of what boxing is today you know fans are really thirsting for more excitement and more entertainment. Who knows?
Q: Would you watch it? Would you be a fan of that? Or do you prefer the human?
SR : If I owned a couple of robots I would. You know … to be honest with you it’s kinda’ scary because it’s so ironic. The fact that boxing is really kinda’ taking a back seat to mixed martial arts, UFC, and now robot boxing. So you know it’s just a funny feeling that I get because, I mean look at technology.
Q : How much did you have to train Hugh? Did he have any kind of boxing skills?
SR : Well Hugh, Hugh was an athlete too. But he also has a little background boxing. Amateur boxing. But my objective with him was not really the fact that, showing him how to box per say, although I did show him how to throw certain punches or execute. My biggest goal was to make sure that he felt like a boxer. He exhibited the facial expressions of a boxer because to throw a punch is one thing, but to show that expression is another thing. That’s what sells the audience, well that’s what sells the fans. And then I worked on the fact of him as a trainer because a trainer and fighter or trainer and robot, if you will, that relationship is so special. And it’s so intimate that at some point I was talking to Hugh. I said, “Hugh at some point don’t say too much, don’t talk to much. Just look at him and let him feel you.” You know what I mean? And once he did that we were well on our way. Because it’s all about that because back in my time when I was with Angelo Dundee, who was also Mohammed Ali’s trainer, we had that connection. You know how you look, look at your kids sometimes and they know what you’re thinking.
Q: When you see the boxing scenes of the robots are they believable to you?
SR : They are. And I say that because at first my whole perception of robots were you know kinda’ rock em’ sock ‘em robots. The first skill, mechanical things. But again we’re talking technology. Has allowed these huge metal monsters to really do all the things that was pretty good wasn’t it? They did though. They was able to emulate the boxers. Because I gave each one kinda’ their own certain style. Like that big guy Zeus. He’s so big and monstrous and strong that I kinda’ thought about George Foreman you know. Just being like BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! And I looked at Atom and Atom reminded me of myself because he was kinda’ like big eyes and kinda’ like sit back. Kinda’ unassuming. I gave him the kinda’ movement and kinda’ what I used to do. The punch really pissed off my opponents and it all turned out well. Because, again, of the technology. It is so amazing. I was so blown away. But I tell ya’ I knew we hit, we struck home a home run when I did a number of interviews with some Boxing writers and each one of them said, “You know I was really surprised that the robots look like Boxers, they move like Boxers.” I knew we had done a good job.
Q: Had you kids seen the movie?
SR : Oh yeah. Thanks. I’m glad you brought that up. I took my, my, my kids.I have 2 young kids. My son Daniel is 10. And my daughter Camille is 14. I took my wife and my mother-in-law. So we went to see a part of the screening and at some point I turned around and I saw my kids screaming. Jumping up and down because it was action. It was you know all this kinda entertainment. The robot BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! And then at some point I turned and I glanced over and I saw my wife and my mother-in-law crying and they, “Oh he’s so cute.” And so I knew that we hit home with demographics from across the board because the kids loved it and, and my wife and my mother-in-law truly liked it. It was really cool. It was satisfying. It really was. And they talked about the whole time on the way home. So I knew we, we did okay.
Q: There’s something about that in the story too. The core of it is the father-son relationship. But also there’s a story about a child’s innocent courage to just go to the top you know. Whereas adults we kind of recycle ourselves more. One person who is a champion and also just in regard to this movie what advice do you have for kids reaching their dreams at such a high level?
SR : You know I always tell kids and I, I do this a lot, well I used to do it a lot when I was training. I would go to schools and tell kids to just never give up. I say, “You know just continue to be a fighter outside the ring and continually dream and reach for your goals and don’t ever believe you can’t become something because someone tells you, you can’t.” Because that happens all the time. People don’t want you to succeed because they can’t succeed. And I, I stress to kids to be a leader not a follower. That’s just easier said than done because of the peer pressure. And because now this generation of kids here are faced with so much more peer pressure than we’ve ever could imagine. But you know what? If we can find a way, even now today with my kids, follow and to communicate with them to make sure to let them know that it’s okay to talk to ‘em about whether it any problem. Being bullied or whatever. If we can have an open line of communication to our kids, these kids have a better chance of succeeding. You know what I mean? It’s peer pressure today is so much greater than it was when we were fighting. Even back in our time you know. And I have 4 kids.
There was more to the interview but I felt that these questions really helped to highlight his work on the film.
His responses were transcribed so sometimes the answers don’t flow right. It’s only human to stumble over words or pause for a moment to think about something. We all do it.
Even Sugar Ray Leonard is impressed by the robot action in Real Steel. His family also loved the movie. His children cheered on the robots and his wife and mother in law were touched by the “human aspects” of the film.
Real Steel is MORE then just a robot boxing film.It’s also about a relationship between a father and his son, and between a man and woman. It’s the HUMAN story lines that are the focus of the film. The awesome robots and metal crushing fighting sequences that are a “bonus” in the film.
This weekend be sure to go see Real Steel, which is still the #1 film in the US. It’s crushing the competition in the box office.
Be on the look out for more Real Steel interviews. 🙂
*I was not compensated for this post. I attended the press conference courteosy of Walt Disney Studios. Any opions expressed are mine unless otherwise noted.