Skip to main content

Actors Nic Bishop and Kevin Sizemore: Coaching Woodlawn

Share This article

At first glance, Woodlawn appears to be just another high school football movie about racial tensions and personal faith. With Denzel Washington's Remember the Titans and last year's When the Game Stands Tall starring Jim Caviezel, what sets Woodlawn apart?

To costars Nic Bishop (Covert Affairs, Body of Proof) and Kevin Sizemore (Resurrection, 24) it's the multilayered story. To them, it's not just a movie about Tony Nathan, an incredible football player who went on to college and NFL success. It's not just about the exploits of the Woodlawn High Colonels or their coaches, Tandy Gerelds (Bishop) and Jerry Stearns (Sizemore). It's not just about how the team helps break down barriers during violent unrest in Birmingham, Alabama in the '70s. It's about all of that and more.

Bishop and Sizemore recently spoke with about their experiences making Woodlawn and their hopes for the new Erwin Brothers film. Here are excerpts from that phone call:

On Woodlawn starting with Martin Luther King, Jr.'s quote, 'Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that'...

Nic Bishop: Yeah. I think it's incredibly appropriate for them to put that there. There have been a few different versions of how that opening section of the movie happens. They've added things and taken things out and just the various edited versions that I've seen, and I think that they finally landed on something that resonates, and the words are so simple and so powerful.

If you can take anything away from this movie it's that, just love one another. Treat each other the way that you would want to be treated. Do things with love and with support, and with encouragement and the world will be a much better place.

On the shenanigans that happened on the set of Woodlawn...

Sizemore: Nic and I were roomed pretty much side by side. Our trailers were next door to each other, so we had a few jokes here and there. And listen, when you're looking back in the 1970s and you're wearing those short shorts, I mean, that right there in itself is a joke. (laughs) So you just look at what we had to wear and it was hilarious. We'd walk out of there, and you know, 'Here comes 'Burnt Legs' Sizemore, and 'White Legs' Bishop...

On the funny moment they had with 'Bear Bryant'...

Sizemore: One of the most memorable times for me was just hanging out throwing football with this guy named Bear Bryant who's wearing this hat, and all of a sudden I'm thinking, wait a minute, that's not even Bear Bryant, that's Jon Voight with a stolen football. It's just crazy... and Nic and I are just tossing the ball with this guy.

On young lead actor (and former Alabama footballer) Caleb Castille...

Bishop: I am an acting teacher and have been for a few years, and so a lot of the things that I try to do with the students that I work with are what Caleb already possesses, because he understands what it is to work hard, being a competitive and an almost professional football player. So he understands how to work and that you won't just get anywhere by just being lucky, even though there were a lot of things about being cast in this movie. But also that belief in yourself, you know, the belief that you are good at what you do and if you do the hard work, then you will achieve things. That, he's clearly proven.

Caleb hasn't been affected by Hollywood and he hasn't been affected by all the nonsense, all of the peripheral stuff that surrounds the industry. He just loves acting. He loves people. He loves doing what he does and he has natural abilities. It's a great combination. He's a really good role model for a lot of young people out there because he just gets up and just does it, and has a lot of fun, and he radiates a really wonderful energy. He's a really good human being to be around, and I think that I would work with that person a hundred times over.

On watching Sean Astin play Chaplain Hank (the real-life dad of producers Andy and Jon Erwin)...

Sizemore: I know Hank, and Hank is just a fantastic guy. You'd love him. Just like Sean, they both have that same demeanor where they're chatting and they want to be there, and they want to talk to you, and they want to get to know you. They're not going to pass you by. They're going to make sure that they talk to you one on one, and they're really going to pay attention to you. I love seeing how his character comes in and just completely dismantles this football team in a positive way to where Nic's character goes, 'What in the world has happened here?'

On the cast pulling together to get this historic story to the big screen...

Sizemore: There are so many storylines in this film. The football team alone is a storyline. The big football game at the end is its own character. And then you have Tandy and you have Nathan, and you have Sean's character [Hank], and then you have Bear Bryant... there's so many layers. It's amazing how Jon and Andy put this much stuff in a two-hour movie. It baffles me.

Bishop: You could literally make a movie about all of these characters individually. You could make a Bear Bryant movie, make the Hank Erwin movie, make the Jerry Stearns movie or the Tandy Gerelds movie. They're all such unique and interesting characters. The casting right across the board from the Erwin brothers was pretty fantastic. And the success of any movie or TV show is largely based on that, I think, you know?

Sizemore: There's not a weak link. And I've said this many times...I've seen the film, I don't see a weak link with the actors on board and that's a credit to the Erwins. They really handpicked some good guys, and Caleb fell in their lap and was just a perfect fit to this whole equation.

Share This article

About The Author


Hannah Goodwyn served as a Senior Producer for, managing and writing for the award-winning website. After her undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport University, Hannah went on to study Journalism at the graduate level. In 2005, she graduated summa cum laude with her Master's from Regent University and was honored with an Outstanding Student Award. From there, Hannah began work as a content producer for For ten years, she acted as the managing producer for the website's Family and Entertainment sections. A movie buff, Hannah felt right at home working as's