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Radio (2003)

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Ed Harris, Cuba Gooding Jr., ... | HARRIS AND GOODING
Image credit: Radio: Michael Tackett
HARRIS AND GOODING

Details Release Date: Oct 24, 2003; Length: 109 Minutes; Genres: Drama, Sports; With: Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ed Harris; Distributor: Sony Pictures Entertainment

From a 1996 Sports Illustrated article (via the rookie screenwriter Mike Rich) comes ''Radio,'' a true-life take on a high school football coach (Ed Harris) who befriends a mentally challenged African-American man nicknamed Radio (Cuba Gooding Jr.) in the racially charged '60s South. ''It's a movie I can take my [10-year-old] daughter to, which is really nice,'' says Harris. ''There's not a lot of those in my bunch. It's about something positive without being corny.''

Gooding relished the opportunity to play a real person, as he did in 2000's ''Men of Honor'' -- though this time the role required more of a physical transformation. ''The first day of filming, coming out of my trailer, I stayed in character until I got back in the trailer and took my makeup off,'' he says. ''The second day I was comfortable enough to take my prosthetic teeth out and hold a conversation with people. By the fourth week, I had to do some off-camera dialogue, and I would just bring my teeth in a box, looking like Cuba, then put the teeth in and do my dialogue. Because I knew the guy by then.''

But even though Radio himself, now 56, visited the South Carolina set, he couldn’t understand that his life was becoming a movie. ''He doesn’t have that capacity,'' Gooding explains. ''It's just a childlike attitude toward everything. He walked up to me and I was in character and I was like, 'Hey, man! How you doin'?' And he's looking at me going 'Do you know who I am? Do you know who I am? I'm Radio!' And I said, 'Yeah, you are!'''

For Gooding, an Oscar winner for 1996's ''Jerry Maguire,'' ''Radio'' is a chance to prove he's award-worthy again -- but the actor says the challenging role didn't frighten him. ''It's all good, brother,'' he says. ''If I didn't want to get scared, I'd never walk out of the house.''

The Killer Moment ''When Radio graduates in life,'' says Gooding. ''Don't take it too literally, and you'll see.''

Originally posted Aug 11, 2003 Published in issue #724-725 Aug 22, 2003 Order article reprints