Quinton Aaron's Breakthrough Role in "The Blind Side"
by Angela Walker
A few days before the release of the DVD of the Academy Award®-nominated film The Blind Side, Quinton Aaron talked about his breakthrough role in the film. The 25-year old native New Yorker's life took an amazing turn when he won the hearts of the film's casting directors.
He Nailed it
Do You Still Want the Role?
God Had His Hand On Me
"I've done a lot of auditions," Aaron recalled, "but I've never seen casting directors in tears. They don't show emotion. When you finish, they usually say, 'Ok, thank you, we'll be in touch.'" The day they heard Aaron read was an exception.
"My mom submitted me for the part. I was working on a short film called Mr. Brooklyn at the time. I had a supporting role in that film, so on breaks in filming, I'd study my lines for this movie. I thought, 'This is a lead role, and I can't mess this up. This is a major motion picture and it's my ticket in. I'm going to this audition and I'm going to do whatever they want.'"
He Nailed It
Within 24 hours, Aaron had all the lines memorized for four scenes and went into the audition. He nailed it. "The casting directors were rubbing the tears out of their eyes, asking if they could give me a hug. From that moment, I felt the movie was mine," Aaron said.
But not quite yet. "I got a call-back two days later to come in the next day and speak with the director (John Lee Hancock) on the phone," Aaron said. "He told me how much he loved the tape, and I was surprised he had it that quickly. 'That was amazing,' he said. 'I loved what you did.'"
Aaron received pointers from Hancock about doing some things, so he followed the direction and it was recorded. The next thing he knew, Aaron was taking his first airplane flight out to Los Angeles to have a sit-down with him. "That was my first time on a plane and my first time going out to LA, so that was exciting. They told me then it would be about two weeks for the final decision."
But time wasn't on Aaron's side. That was December 6 of 2007. The writers had gone on strike November 5 of that year, and it was dragging out longer than anyone expected. Aaron went back to New York hoping to hear soon from the producers, but no word.
"The movie had to be put on hold, and I hadn't heard anything in two weeks," he said. "Then two weeks became two months, and then it was a year. So from December 6, 2007, when I met with the director, I didn't hear anything until January 2009, when he said they were going ahead with the film."
Do You Still Want the Role?
Meanwhile, Aaron's mom, who started the whole thing by submitting her son for a leading role in a major motion picture, died in the summer of 2008. Aaron himself was struggling and almost at the end of his rope when the director found him. "He asked me if I still wanted to play Michael and I said, 'Heck, yeah!'"
Michael Oher wasn't Aaron's first film role. "My first role was in Be Kind Rewind with Jack Black and Mos Def. I played a bodyguard in Law and Order, as well as a bouncer on that show as well. I did a couple of NYU films and short films, and a couple of the short films I was in won a couple of festival awards. I did what I could to stay busy."
Aaron also studied his craft. " I like to observe and watch to see how other people act. Not only on camera, but with the media and how they are as a person," he said. "I watch how they work and observe a lot of different things. I look for how they are with their character, and when they turn it on and when they turn it off. I look for tips here and there to help me with preparing for certain roles or characters or parts of scenes."
Since he was a young boy, Aaron was into movies and wanted to be an actor. "Right now, I'm living out my childhood dream. It's what I wanted to do from day," he remembers. "When I was younger I wanted to be a CIA agent, but now I can play one in the movies and look a lot better doing it." And, no doubt, being paid a lot better for it.
God Had His Hand on Me
But, being a humble guy, Aaron doesn't take all the credit for his recent success. " I do believe that God had His hand on me, and that He's the reason why I'm blessed to be where I am. That alone right there keeps me grounded, because He could easily take it away. I don't want Him to take it away, but He could.
"I never again want to be in the position I was in prior to doing the film. I understand and I know that I'm not the only reason why I'm here," he said. "I think God has his angels out here on earth to help us, and to put it on someone's heart to be a blessing and to be His agent. I want to be like that."
Now Aaron sees a lot of doors opening because of The Blind Side. He's ready for it because he has faith it will happen. " You have to put everything into it and believe that it's going to happen. You have to have faith that what you're doing is going to happen, because if you don’t, then you'll never be successful at it. You have to believe that what you're doing is going to come through and go for it."
He did, and his life is different because of it.