Kelly McCormack Talks Teamwork and Training for A League of Their Own
[Warning: Mild general spoilers ahead.]
I’ve been saying that this summer is the season of our Killjoys crew, which makes me ridiculously happy, and this week, we get a twofer. Aaron Ashmore returns in the final season of Locke & Key, which hits Netflix Wednesday, and this Friday, Kelly McCormack stars as Jess McCready, one of the Rockford Peaches in Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham’s reimagined series take on the 1992 classic film, A League of Their Own for Prime Video. I caught up with McCormack by phone following a whirlwind few weeks of press, screenings, and the all-star premiere.
After shooting the pilot, COVID-19 put a pause on filming, and when it resumed, the cast and crew decamped to Pittsburgh for a five-month production. McCormack says that absolutely cemented the bond among the group. “It felt like summer camp because of COVID. We really could only hang out with each other and it really helped with the team bonding,” she explains. “We were low-key obsessed with each other. It was very fun.”
Coming into the series, McCormack didn’t know that it would spin the story into new directions, following a new set of Peaches while still being firmly rooted in the original film’s framing narrative. “I knew it was an Abbi Jacobson project, and from reading the pilot for the audition, it was so clearly in her voice,” McCormack says.
“So for that alone, I was thrilled to even have the opportunity to audition for it. I didn’t know the full scope that would eventually become the series.Throughout the audition process, they would talk to us about the hopes and dreams of the characters, and where they wanted to take it.”
“And I think as D’Arcy Carden says in the show, we robbed the bank a little bit with that and had as much possible fun as we could taking it to so many more frontiers and layers and different avenues of this generation of women living in Rockford.”
The show weaves baseball in and out of the interpersonal stories, and McCormack leaned on her own affinity for sports to get in the zone playing Jess when she hits the field. “I played baseball quite a bit and many other sports, as well. I was big into sports, a little bit of a jock,” she shares.
“I was a competitive synchronized swimmer and I’ve always turned to sports throughout my life as an analogy for being a performer, and on Letterkenny, I played a hockey player. I feel very comfortable with the duality of pressure that that gives you to say, ‘Okay. Perform as an actor, but also don’t hit the camera.’”
She was thrilled to get hands-on guidance in shaping Jess’s signature style from a few real-life heavy hitters. “I was [already] pretty comfortable with baseball and then we trained for the pilot for a few weeks with some incredible Team USA women like Kelsie Whitmore and Beth Greenwood and coach Justine Siegal, who’s the first female MLB coach,” McCormack says.
“We did that and we all got really good and we shot the pilot. And then by the time we did the TV show, we had another month of training and just started getting even better. And by the time we were actually shooting the show, it was just like we were baseball players who happened to also act in between.”
“I was talking with Kelsie Whitmore, who plays now for the [Staten Island] FerryHawks. She’s just an absolute stud, an incredible player. I asked her what she would want to see, what kind of moves she’d want to see during [the baseball scenes] and she would send me videos. And then I started working with Justine and Lena Park, who works for Justine at Baseball for All, which helps encourage competitive arenas for female baseball players at all ages.”
“On the weekend, we’d go to the ballpark and come up with these plays and then pitch it to the creatives [on the show] and they’d say, ‘Yeah, we’ll write it in.’ So we had a lot of fun coming up with plays and trying to make them as badass as possible.”
“I got really excited about doing free hand catches or double plays or doing stuff on my back or diving. We didn’t have time to shoot all of them. And not all of them made the edit, but [if we get another season], hopefully we’ll have a lot more wily baseball behavior.”
The last time we chatted with McCormack, she was ramping up to shoot her feature film, Sugar Daddy, which she produced, wrote the script and music for, and starred and sang in. If you missed it, it’s now streaming, and the Killjoys kids and CdnTV fans will enjoy the extended cast who pop up throughout. You can catch her labor of love in the US on Prime Video, Tubi, and Pluto TV.
A League of Their Own premieres all eight episodes Friday, August 12th, at 12:01 am ET on Prime Video. Here’s a sneak peek. And check back this weekend for more of my exclusive chat with Kelly McCormack where she talks about her favorite moments of the season. My season preview is here.
Photos and video courtesy of Prime Video
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