The Blind Side was released in 2009 and was a roaring success as soon as it touched down in the box-office. The Blind Side story follows the life and career of the famous professional football player, Michael Oher. As a youngster, Oher was neglected, he was left on the streets, and he had never felt the love of a family. In an amazing twist of fate, Oher’s life changed for the better when he was taken in by a loving but strict Christian by the name of Leigh Ann Tuohy. The Tuohys took Michael under their wing and raised him as their own. As they got to know the new addition to the family, the Tuohys soon discovered ‘Big Mike’ had a talent – a talent that would change his life forever.
Nowadays, Michael Oher is one of the most famous men in sports, and The Blind Side story is one of the most famous true stories in the world of Hollywood. Nevertheless, few people know the true backstory, and the behind-the-scenes gossip we all want to know. So, check out the true facts from behind the scenes of The Blind Side.
A troubled past
One of the most heartbreaking moments of The Blind Side (you know, apart from the whole movie) is when we find out about Michael Oher’s troubled past.
In the movie, we see him struggling with homelessness and life without a true role model – and this is all completely true. Throughout his younger years, the football player watched his mother turn to drinking and illegal substances and neglect her twelve children, and his dad had spent all of his life in jail. He had a tough time from it.
A different timeline
Of course, fitting a whole life story into a 2-hour-long movie is no mean feat – in fact, it’s impossible! Because of this, the timeline of The Blind Side had to be shifted a little to fit in the most important parts.
In the movie, we watch as the Tuohy family pick up Michael from the side of the road and take him into their family. However, this was not the case. Sure, they saw Michael that night, but they didn’t stop. Instead, Leigh Anne waited until the next day and visited Michael’s school and Michael himself.
His own story
Although The Blind Side was a box-office success (probably because we went to watch it about 158 times), Michael Oher has been extremely public about his own opinion of the movie – and felt that it didn’t tell the whole story.
In response to this, Oher decided to write his own personal account of his life in his autobiography; I Beat the Odds. This autobiography corrects some of the stories in the movie and adds in other aspects of his life that had been ignored by the producers.
A rough ride
When it comes to Hollywood movies, it’s fair to say that the production companies love to romance their audience with happiness and love (awww) – unfortunately, real life isn’t always like that.
In The Blind Side, Michael Oher becomes part of the Tuohy family in no time, and they all learn to accept and love each other over the course of a few weeks. In reality, this didn’t happen. In fact, Michael and the Tuohys had a rough ride, and it took months for them to truly bond with each other.
Not as easy as it seems
If you’ve watched The Blind Side as much as us, you’ve probably wondered how it was so easy for Michael Oher to integrate into the Briarcrest Christian School – because the first day of school is never that easy (in fact, we absolutely hate it).
Sure, the movie shows the difficulties Oher faced when it came to being enrolled, but they were more scrupulous than it seemed. Before he could even become a student, he had to pass various academic tests to prove he would be able to keep up with the workload.
Meeting Mr. Tuohy
As you can already tell, Hollywood loves to touch up a story to make it more compelling – which is what they did when Michael Oher met his adoptive father for the first time.
In the movie, Michael and Mr. Tuohy met for the first time after Collins’ volleyball game. In real life, Oher only met his adoptive father after Leigh Anne had made the decision to take him into the family. Mrs. Tuohy gave Mr. Tuohy the job of checking up on Michael at school, which is when they first met. Sounds like Leigh Anne…
A love of football
There’s no denying that Michael Oher is one of the biggest names in football – but where did it all start? Well, according to The Blind Side, Oher’s love for football came from the mentorship of his adoptive mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy.
Apparently, Oher had no interest in football before Sandra Bullock got involved. This is one of the main aspects of the movie that Michael Oher contests. Yes, Leigh Anne definitely helped him along the way, but the hard work and the passion were all down to him. You do you, Oher.
One of the major themes in The Blind Side was the racial tension between Michael Oher and the middle-class lifestyle he had been brought into.
According to Oher though, the movie didn’t show the half of it. Although the Tuohys loved Michael Oher as if he were their own son, they were still reluctant to give themselves fully to the teenager – and it was the same for the rest of the school and the surrounding community.
Although she was dubious about Michael to start with, Collins Tuohy proved an integral part of The Blind Side story – and the film got her character spot on.
In the movie, Collins is a grade-A student, a competent sportswoman, and a definite high achiever. This was no different to the real Collins Tuohy. Collins graduated from high school with impressive grades and was a pole-vaulting state champion. Not that we’re jealous or anything… Collins later graduated from Ole Miss – just like her adoptive brother.
Mrs. Tuohy’s career
When watching The Blind Side, you may have wondered what Leigh Anne Tuohy did for a job – because she seemed to have A LOT of free time on her hands.
Although the film did not go into detail about her day job, there was a little Easter Egg that gave the game away. In the movie, she mentions working for Patrick Ramsey, a famous football player. This little nugget was actually true, as Leigh Anne is an interior designer in real life, and decked out the football player’s home when he moved many years ago.
The biggest plot twist of The Blind Side is when Michael Oher begins to choose where he wants to go to college – and his choice doesn’t go down too well with investigators.
Nevertheless, Oher ultimately chooses (spoiler alert) the University of Mississippi. Ole Miss is a huge part of Leigh Anne Tuohy’s life, as she attended there during her college years, as depicted in the film. Although Sandra Bullock didn’t go to the college herself, she also starred as an Ole Miss devotee in the 1996 film, A Time to Kill. We reckon that’s enough to make her an honorary Ole Miss student…
His biggest fan
Although Oher has made it clear that there are parts of The Blind Side he’s not a fan of, that doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy it. Despite the inaccuracies, Oher respected the actresses and actors who worked on the movie and stays in touch with them today.
In fact, he is still good friends with Sandra Bullock – who is Michael Oher’s biggest fan. Whenever she can, Bullock takes a trip down into the bleachers to cheer Michael on during his football games. Sandra Bullock as your best friend? That’s the dream.
Real life coaches
One of the most amazing moments in The Blind Side is where all of the college coaches travel to Briarcrest School to watch Michael Oher do his thing on the football field.
But if you’re not a fond lover of football, it’s easy to assume that the coaches were simply played by actors, who were drafted in to play the famous scouts. However, they were the real deal. The producers wanted to make the scene as authentic as possible – and they nailed it.
Of course, you can’t make a movie about a high school student without using the high school in question – but Briarcrest Christian School weren’t too happy that they were featured in the movie.
They didn’t want their name used, and they didn’t want their colors associated with the movie because they believed it would show the school in a negative light. However, John Lee Hancock, who directed the movie, wanted The Blind Side to be as realistic as possible. Sorry, Briarcrest.
Turning it down
If you’re a fan of The Blind Side, you’ll know that one of the most poignant characters in the film (apart from Michael Oher) is Leigh Anne Tuohy.
Sandra Bullock was heavily praised for her role in this movie, and even won herself a Golden Globe AND an Oscar. To us, she was perfect. Unfortunately, Bullock didn’t think she was. In fact, she turned the role down numerous times as she didn’t want to play a ruthless and strict Christian. Thankfully for us, she eventually agreed.
Aside from Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron stole the show for fans and critics of The Blind Side, and even Michael Oher himself – perhaps that was because they were so similar.
The casting directors had a field day when they found out that Quinton Aaron and Michael Oher had startling similarities. They were the same build, they were the same weight, and they were the same height. The only thing they didn’t have in common was their age, as Aaron was two years older than Oher.
Before Sandra Bullock was offered the part of Leigh Anne Tuohy, the casting directors asked another high-profile actress to take on the part of the adoptive mother. Yep, Julia Roberts!
Like Bullock, Roberts was offered the part numerous times but always rejected the offer, as she did not think it was the right role for her. Of course, we can’t imagine Roberts would have done a bad job – but Sandra Bullock just feels right, you know?
The Blind Side: Evolution of the Game
Naturally, we all know that The Blind Side is a movie based on the life of professional football legend, Michael Oher.
But what many fans don’t know is that the movie got much of its inspiration from a book called The Blind Side: Evolution of the Game – written by Michael Lewis. This book depicts the early lives and careers of Michael Oher and Lawrence Taylor, two of the most popular and successful football players in the business.
His first time
Quinton Aaron’s performance in The Blind Side was truly mesmerizing and believable – which makes it even harder to believe that he had never acted before. Yep, The Blind Side was his first acting job!
Aaron saw the casting call for the role while he was working his shift as a security guard, and decided to audition for the role for the heck of it. Because he had never acted professionally before, he could not give John Lee Hancock a resume. Instead, he simply handed him his grubby business card.
A ruthless training regime
Although Quinton Aaron was a natural-born actor and was the perfect casting choice for Big Mike, there was something he had to practice before he could set foot on the football field – football.
Aaron knew the basic rules of football but had never played it to the level of Michael Oher. This meant he needed to go through a ruthless training regime. Thankfully, the Georgia Tech football team were on hand to train him up to look like a true professional.
A serious football player
Despite all of the hard work that went into the making of the film, Michael Oher still wishes the movie was never made. This is because people judge him on the movie and his backstory, rather than the athlete he is today.
Instead of seeing him as a serious and professional football player who has had a troubled past and overcome his struggles, the general public sees him as a football player who has been made famous because of a movie. That’s not what he wants.
The Hollywood lifestyle
After Quinton Aaron wowed the director with his acting talents in the first audition, he was called back to audition a second time. But this time – it was a little further afield.
This time, the security guard who had never been on an airplane before was flown to his second audition and introduced to the world of Hollywood. Through the success of the movie and his success as an actor, Aaron grew more accustomed to the glitz and glamour of LA, but he still feels pretty overwhelmed by it all.
A supportive mother
Although he loved his new lifestyle, Quinton Aaron would have never got where he is today if it weren’t for his supportive mother.
His mom always knew that her son had talent, and felt like he was wasting it while he was working as a security guard. So, when she heard they were looking for a man to play Michael Oher with a specific build – she knew her son fit the bill. In fact, Aaron’s mother submitted his details for the initial audition.
However, becoming Big Mike was never going to easy – as he is such a high-profile and unique figure.
Once he bagged himself the role of Michael Oher, Quinton Aaron had to go through a rigorous rehearsal and training regime to get to the standard expected of the role. To truly encapsulate the football star, Aaron was asked to lose a bit of weight. Aaron was determined to impress with his first movie role, and shed a whopping 100 pounds to make sure he was the perfect fit.
Quinton Aaron had a blast on the set of The Blind Side and loved the connection the cast had to music. In fact, Aaron was working alongside a huge country music singer!
Yep, there’s a reason why Mr. Tuohy looks so familiar – and that’s because he is none other than Tim McGraw. But the musical connection doesn’t end there. Collins Tuohy was played by Lily Collins; who is the daughter of the musical legend, Phil Collins.
Her big break
Let’s be honest, Sandra Bullock is one of the biggest actresses in the business – but like every other actor and actress out there, she had to start at the bottom.
Before her time on The Blind Side, Bullock had appeared in various movies, like The Proposal and Speed. However, it is widely regarded that The Blind Side was her big break. This main role scored her hundreds of subsequent movie offers (although the Oscar and the Golden Globe probably helped that, too). We love you, Sandra!
Although the writers, directors, and producers of The Blind Side knew they had made a great movie, they had no idea just how popular it would be – and they made a huge profit.
The budget for the movie was a small $30 million (well, small in Hollywood terms), but the award-winning film raked in an incredible $309.2 million in the box office. This was even more impressive because this profit allowed The Blind Side to become the highest grossing sports movie of all time.
Freedom from Want
One of the most poignant scenes in The Blind Side is Michael Oher’s first Thanksgiving dinner in the Tuohy household. While the rest of the Tuohy’s sit and watch television in the living room, Big Mike takes a seat at the dining table and eats his dinner alone.
Then, in a gut-wrenching move, the rest of the family join him in a Thanksgiving feast. The scene is a heartwarming family dinner, but art lovers were quick to notice that the scene looks similar to the Normal Rockwell painting called ‘Freedom from Want.’
The Blind Side is the ultimate rags to riches story, which warms your heart and makes those who watch it extremely happy. However, the movie is not without its complications.
After making the decision to attend and play for his adoptive parents’ alma mater, Ole Miss, Michael is investigated by the NCAA – and the actress is intimidating and pressurizing. After The Blind Side was released, the real interviewer who investigated the real Michael Oher came forward and rejected her portrayal. She was never intimidating.
Making it up
In his autobiography, Michael Oher rejected some of the fictitious scenes in The Blind Side and those that had been doctored. One of those scenes was the setting for his NCAA interview.
In the movie, he is interviewed in a high-rise city skyscraper, and Leigh Anne is told to wait outside. In reality, Michael was interviewed in his home, with his adoptive father sitting next to him. Leigh Anne was given the opportunity to attend the meeting, but she was busy at the time.
With his autobiography and The Blind Side shedding light on his early years, it’s no secret that Michael Oher had a troubled childhood. However, these stories go into very little detail about his early years and his previous education.
In fact, before he enrolled at Briarcrest Christian School, Oher had attended 11 schools in just 9 years and was constantly playing truant. Oher was never interested in school or bettering his education, and had a 0.6 GPA in his first year of high school.
A way with words
During his time at Briarcrest Christian School, Michael Oher struggled in all of his subjects – except for English. It was soon discovered that Oher not only had a talent for football, but he also had a way with words.
During his later high school years, Oher wrote an essay entitled ‘White Walls’ which described his place in the school. He wrote that he was constantly surrounded by white people and white walls and that he had no idea what was going on or what the teachers were telling him; nor did he care.
One of the defining features of Michael ‘Big Mike’ Oher is his incredible size. It was clear from a young age that Oher was going to be a tall guy – but nobody knew quite how tall he would be.
At the tender age of 15-years-old, Oher already weighed 350 pounds and was 6 foot 2. Now, he stands at 6 foot 4. But if you thought that was big, Quinton Aaron is taller! Quinton stands at a whopping 6 foot 8 and weighs an impressive 472 pounds.
A competent footballer
As previously stated, one of the reasons the real Michael Oher dislikes The Blind Side is because it portrays a false story – that his adoptive mother pushed him into the world of football.
However, this wasn’t the case. In fact, Oher was a hugely competent footballer before he met the Tuohys and had a true passion for the sport. He already knew the rules, and he already knew how to play before Leigh Anne entered his life.
The Blind Side is full of adorable moments that will make your heart ache with happiness. One of those moments is when Leigh Anne Tuohy and the rest of the family invite Big Mike into their annual family Christmas card.
From the movie, we can tell the Christmas card sparked a lot of interest (not always good) to those who were sent it, who could not believe that the prim and proper middle-class white family had a ‘black boy’ in their family photograph.
As Michael Oher is famous as a professional footballer, it’s no surprise that The Blind Side focuses solely on the one sport. However, the real Michael Oher is an all-around sportsman with a talent for all kinds of sport.
Although it is not really explored in the movie, Oher was also extremely passionate about basketball. With his height, his power and his speed, he won numerous awards at high school and could have gone pro if he had not chosen football.
One of the most important people in Big Mike’s life in The Blind Side is S.J Tuohy, his little brother. In the movie, we watch as the adorable little dude helps to train his big brother and get him ready for the big leagues.
Unfortunately, this didn’t happen in real life, but the two were incredibly close. S.J and Big Mike used to play football and basketball in the backyard together, and S.J will forever be Michael Oher’s biggest fan.
A talented family
It’s fair to say Michael Oher is one of the most talented people to come from the Tuohy family – but he’s not the only sportsman. When he was younger, Oher’s adoptive father was an incredible sports star with an amazing basketball talent.
He played for the Ole Miss team and was even drafted in to play professional basketball with the New Jersey Nets. Unfortunately, he had to cut his career short after his father took a turn for the worse, but is now a hugely successful businessman.
More damage than good
As soon as the first critics saw The Blind Side, they knew it was going to be a smash hit – and they got it right. The movie became incredibly popular and was watched by millions across the world, earned awards, and brought some of its actors into the limelight.
However, there was one person who wasn’t happy with the end product; Michael Oher. Michael was upset with how they had portrayed his life and career and went so far as to say the movie did more damage to his career than it did good.
A different personality
Michael Oher also believes that The Blind Side poorly represented his personality. In the movie, Quinton Aaron is quiet and shy and is deemed an outcast by everyone around him.
He rarely smiles and skulks in the background. Michael disagrees with this, stating that he has a different personality. He is loud and spends most of his time laughing, and with a smile on his face. According to him, the Big Mike in the movie was nothing like the Big Mike in real life.