‘Gracie’ is all in the family 

Andrew Shue may have rinsed himself clean of the soapy remnants of "Melrose Place," but he still has a soft spot for drama, especially when it has to do with his own family.

Shue, along with his sister, Elisabeth, and eco-patriot Davis Guggenheim ("An Inconvenient Truth"), are the creative forces behind "Gracie," a heartwarming new film based on the Shues’ own experiences growing up. The movie tracks one teenage girl’s attempt to find her place on an all-boys soccer team, but explores a more personal issue.

"I wanted to do a film that honored the memory of our brother, William, who was a hero to us," says Andrew.

"Anything to do with our brother was sacred and personal," adds Elisabeth. "So the idea of sharing that with the rest of the world was very worrisome to me at first."

William Shue died in an accident in 1988.

"Gracie" takes a similar event, stages it 10 years earlier, and uses it as the catalyst for the film’s lead, Carly Schroeder, who’ll stop at nothing until she honors her deceased brother. The Shues both co-star in the movie, which hopes to do for soccer what "Friday Night Lights" did for football and underdogs everywhere.

At its core, though, "Gracie" feels more like "The Elisabeth Shue Journey," give or take a few creative tweaks with real-life events. Elisabeth, who played soccer with boys until the age of 13, braved ridicule and great expectations that were placed upon her just because she was a girl.

"The guys would show up on the field and they’d all start pointing at me," she recalls. "I had to be tougher than them so that they wouldn’t treat me differently. It was kind of lonely experience but I was blessed growing up three brothers. I got used to ‘fighting it out.’"

Actually, so did Schroeder. Long before she actually got the part, the determined young actress went into training with a former L.A. Galaxy Soccer team coach. But when she hit the field with her male costars, they were "afraid" they would injure her.

"I started pushing them around and talking crap to them a little bit." Schroeder says. "You just had to play harder. Eventually, it got really intense. They still saw me as a girl but less so -- more like just another soccer player out there."

Still, Andrew feels "Gracie" works best because it isn’t afraid to run across some serious emotional turf.

"There are a lot of ups and down in life and we often get so determined on our own path that we forget about how important our key relationships are," he says. "If you really nurture them, in the end, they will carry you through."

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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