Kelly McCormack Talks Favorite Moments in A League of Their Own
[Warning: Mild spoilers for season 1.]
Now that you’ve had a chance to watch A League of Their Own, here’s the rest of my chat with Kelly McCormack about her favorite moments of the season.
Seeing the iconic Peaches uniforms for the first time wasn’t just a goosebump moment for us at home. It was impactful to McCormack, too.”Running onto the baseball field in our Peaches uniform felt pretty incredible. Even just going to the costume fitting, trying on that dress for the first time…I kind of mentally prepared myself [that] I’m gonna wear this costume,” she shares.
“It’s one of the most famous costumes in any film and [costumer] Trayce Field just made it absolutely perfect. The shade of pink is so particular. Going on the field with that uniform on was really special.”
In the series, several of the women, including Jess, find a safe, happy space in the after-hours gay bar owned by Rosie O’Donnell’s Vi. “That was one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever had on set. Thanks [again] to Trayce Field, our incredible costume designer. Roberta Colindrez [who plays Lupe] and I just look like we’re living our best lives,” McCormack recalls.
“We’re dressed like 1940s movies dudes. We’re at this bar, there’s some swing dancing, we’re hanging on some women, and then Rosie is a bartender and there’s all this beautiful music playing. It felt like we were in some sort of fantasy that I didn’t know I needed or had, but I wanted to spend a lot of time in that bar because it just felt right.”
“And it felt exciting to create this space that would’ve been so important to these women and would’ve been such a safe space for the women. Even recreating it was very special and felt like we were doing something kind of monumental. Every generation thinks they invented sex and gender.”
“We forget that there are people who are in control who don’t want to tell stories about women stepping up outside the mold, but these women did exist, women who wanted something other than becoming a housewife, not that there’s anything wrong with being a housewife. There was this sort of radical behavior that was happening behind closed doors, happening on the ground, that has always been happening in every generation. And it felt really fun to recreate that.”
Aside from the onscreen specialness of shooting those scenes, it was equally significant to McCormack to meet and work alongside O’Donnell. “Rosie was a huge part of my life. I used to run home every day to watch her show. She’d always have celebrities on, but she always offset it with theater actors. And she always had the Tony nominations and music performers. It was so formative. I was such a theater nerd. I loved it so much,” she explains.
“She had Broadway stars that I idolized. Growing up in Vancouver, theater tickets were really expensive. We didn’t go to the theater lot, but I was obsessed with musical theater. So to see people like Audra MacDonald and Bernadette Peters and the cast of Ragtime and Barbara Streisand on The Rosie O’Donnell Show, I would race home to see it.”
“And I remember her crying when she had Barbara Streisand on her show and to see someone like her had so much humility for another artist was really grounding to me as a person, like don’t ever stop being a fan of the thing that shot you into this position, don’t ever stop loving and beloving those musicians and artists who who inspired you from the get go.”
“When I was eight or nine, my mom got me stationary that had my name on it with these balloons. And the first thing I did with the stationary was write Rosie a fan letter. To meet her was very cool. She was amazing. And she would regale us with stories about being on set in the original film. It was fun to hear her version of the sorority that we were experiencing.”
McCormack was thrilled to play a Canadian in the series, and rooted her performance in how place and history would have shaped Jess. “A lot of the women who played for the GPDL were Canadian. I wanted Jess to have this kind of rural background like a farm boy, but also Moose Jaw was a very wily city at the time,” she points out.
“There was so much rum running from there to Chicago during prohibition. So she’s seen a lot, she’s been through a lot. She’s tough. She’s the kind of character that shows and doesn’t tell. I was really excited to play a character who doesn’t talk that much, but talks with their playing or their actions. Jess has multiple brothers. She’s used to dealing with conflict in a very utilitarian way, which just means [in the tire-changing scene with Lupe and Esti, if she] leaves them together, and leaves them alone, they’ll figure their shit out on their own.”
Alongside the iconic uniforms, there are lines of dialogue from the original film that are still around today, courtesy of memes and oldsters like me who still recite them. McCormack is the one who gets to repeat the most famous line of all, “There’s no crying in baseball,” and I legitimately came off my couch in glee when she said it.
“I was thrilled when I saw it in the script and then absolutely terrified. And then I just had to kind of get it over with,” she laughs. “I feel like I’m only really understanding now how important that line is, but I knew it was a big line.”
“It was a huge honor. I definitely wasn’t going to try to out-Tom Tom. I wasn’t going to even attempt that; no one should. He’s iconic and effervescent and genius. I just said it and got it over with, and I didn’t say it beforehand. I didn’t practice it. I didn’t say it even by myself in my apartment, I just said it on the day and walked away and that was it. “
“I don’t think it’s going to be as iconic as the way that Tom says it, but it’s definitely a send up to the original. There’s a lot of little send ups to the original in the series. Chante Adams catching that pitch with her bare hand, and the opening scene coming into the stadium is a shot-for-shot [nod to] the film. My line was just one of many little tiny love notes to the original film.”
Next up for McCormack is the Spectrum and Paramount+ series George and Tammy, about George Jones and Tammy Wynette, in which she plays Sheila Richey. It’s finished filming, and she loved diving into that world. “Being submersed in country music was kind of dream. And working with Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon and Steve Zahn and Walton Goggins…the cast was an embarrassment of wishes. We all had a really good time and got to sing some honky tonk and twang and have some big hair and big nails.”
And in case you missed it on social media, McCormack got to throw out the first pitch at Friday’s Toronto Blue Jays game.
Photos courtesy of Prime Video.
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