While I expected to be moved by the amazing true story of Jackie Robinson crossing the baseball color line in 42, I did not expect to be playing a never-ending game of “Who’s that Middle-Aged White Guy and Where Is He From?” But alas, that’s the question that ran through my head throughout the entire movie. And it will happen to you too if you’ve watched any television for the past 10 years. So I’m thinking that maybe if I prepare you for this game of Guess Who before you go see this movie, you’ll be able to focus on the story. And the corny dialogue. Because man oh middle-aged white man, it’s full of corny dialogue. Oh, also a whole lot of racial slurs that will make you appreciate what the real Jackie Robinson endured during his first year playing baseball in an all white league. All the below dudes aside, the movie does tell an incredible true story that feels a little too relevant in this day and age when so many people are still struggling for basic civil rights.
With all that in mind, let’s begin with an easy guy.
First up at bat we have T.R Knight. He plays Harold Parrot, the right-hand man for Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford). Although he’s wearing glasses in the movie, you’ll definitely recognize him from his role as Dr. George O’Malley on Grey’s Anatomy. A show that he left back in 2009, but is somehow still on the air.
Next up is former Disney Channel movie star Ryan Merriman. He plays the racist-turned-kinda-not-racist Dodgers player Dixie Walker. You’ll remember him from the fantasy story, The Luck of the Irish and the sci-fi thriller Smart House. You also might remember him from the diary entry you titled, “My Very First Crush!”
Oh look! It’s John C. McGinley from Scrubs. This cranky old doctor plays Red Barber in the movie, the play-by-play radio announcer who actually made me laugh aloud several times during the movie. That’s a good thing. There were a few moments that were so high on the cornball scale that I coudn’t help but giggle. Such as one scene where this kid asks his father about Pee Wee scoring during that game that came off like a failed commercial audition.
Hello there Detective Stabler! Aren’t you looking dapper in your topless scene. The former Law & Order: SVU detective plays the philandering Dodgers manager Leo Durocher. Christopher Meloni’s come a long way from the hardened streets of NYC. The only question is if baseball distracts him long enough to forget his chemistry with Benson. The detective he so rudely forgot to say bye to before leaving the show.
Feeling sporty? Probably because you recognize Derek Phillips from his role as Billy Riggins in Friday Night Lights. In 42 he played fellow Dodgers player Bobby Bragan. If only he’d brought Tim Riggins with him. (RIP Taylor Kitsch’s career.)
How about Hamish Linklater ladies? Throughout the entire movie, I couldn’t place him. Even though I did like him. He plays Ralph Branca, one of the few guys who accepted Jackie Robinson playing on the team almost right away. Even after browsing his IMDB, I still can’t quite put my finger on how I know him. But considering he’s had roles on shows like The Newsroom, The Good Wife, The Big C and American Dreams, I’m guessing it’s from one of them.
Like Ole Hamish, Brad Beyer will allude you for a long time. He’s never starred on a show long enough to get name recognition, but he’s certainly starred on enough procedural shows to make you feel like you know him from somewhere. We’re talking about NCIS, CSI: NY, CSI: Miami, Without a Trace and Criminal Minds. However you won’t care much about him after seeing him play the blatantly racist Dodgers player Kirby Higbe.
Want to know how to know if you’re racist (accidental or otherwise)? If you agree with anything Alan Tudyk’s character Ben Chapman says during the movie. The whole time I watched him spew out racist rants, I tried to figure out where I’d seen those eyes before. Turns out that it’s probably from watching Suburgatory clips. Alan plays Noah Warner on the comedy and just happens to be one of those faces you can’t forget.
Do you recognize this guy? It’s um, well, HARRISON FORD! He’s the only guy in the movie who I could place right away.