Notre Dame fan Jason Patric has a goal: He’d like to win one for the Gipper. Sort of. After researching the brief but dramatic life of George Gipp, the famed Fighting Irish running back who died of pneumonia in 1920, Patric wants to make a deeper, darker film than 1940’s mawkish Knute Rockne, All-American, in which Ronald Reagan made the Gipper the embodiment of team spirit.
To persuade Hollywood executives, Patric has been circulating a 15-minute film, Gipp, in which he acts out six scenes from the football star’s life. ”Because people are so shortsighted in this business, you practically have to put the pudding on their fingers,” says the 28-year-old actor, who financed the two-day shoot himself. Why the Gipp? ”[He’s] a tragic hero who’s emblematic of his times.” If the cinematic trial balloon does lead the actor into his own feature-length version of the story, don’t expect him to reenact the death scene for which Reagan is so famous. ”It’s myth,” Patric says. ”But there is a deep truth in it.” And then he adds, teasingly, ”I sort of have an idea how to answer both sides in the movie.”