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What Michael Oher Really Thought About 'The Blind Side'

Culture

| LAST UPDATE 11/09/2022

By Tiana Blanco

The Blind Side became a big success when it came out in 2009, as audiences marveled at the real-life story of Michael Oher. But the man himself wasn't too pleased with the screenplay's portrayal of what happened.

Displeased

After The Blind Side hit theatres, it was praised by audiences and critics alike. The movie even received an Academy Award nomination under the category Best Film. Except there was one person who was displeased.

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Despite actor Quinton Aaron's phenomenal performance and Sandra Bullock's influential character, Michael Oher didn't enjoy watching how his life played out on screen. He even claimed that the movie ended up causing more harm than good to his athletic career.

Not the Same in Real Life

In the movie, Oher's character was seen as the type of guy who kept to himself, was detached, and was exceedingly uptight. Quinton Aaron, who played Oher, convinced audiences that that's really how the athlete acted out on the field. But, in reality, it was a different story.

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The real-life football star said he is the opposite of how he was represented on screen. Big Mike tries not to take anything too seriously. And when he's out there playing the game, he does so with a big smile and enthusiastic energy. That's quite a different image from what we saw in theaters.

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His Life Before Meeting the Tuohy's

Something The Blind Side did get right was Oher's difficult upbringing, but not to the full extent of it. Because it all needed to fit in an allotted time frame, the entire story wasn't explained. In the movie, viewers learned that the athlete didn't have a family and was sadly living on the streets.

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Jeff Zelevansky / Stringer via Getty Images

The off-screen version was a bit more complex and possibly too intense to put into a family drama movie. When Oher was growing up, his father tragically passed away while he was locked up. His mom struggled to fulfill her motherly duties as issues with substances led her elsewhere.

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Meeting the Tuohy Family

Anyone who has seen the movie probably remembers how the Tuohy family came into contact with Big Mike. Leigh Anne Tuohy, played by Sandra Bullock, spotted him walking on the side of the road. After learning Oher had no place to stay, she invited him to the family's home.

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This played out differently in real life. Although the Tuohy's really did first encounter the athlete out on the streets, it took a while before he was living under their roof. Leigh Anne first went to see Oher at his school and then they went out to buy new clothes. Over time, the relationship was formed.

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Leigh Anne’s Career

In The Blind Side, Leigh Ann worked as an interior designer. In one scene, she spoke briefly about the fact that Patrick Ramsey was one of her clients. It was an easter egg that was possibly only noticed by hard-core football fans who may be familiar with athletes' home improvement plans.

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Just like in the movie, the real Leigh Anne also had a career as a designer. And, she really did work with the football star, who played quarterback for the Washington Redskins. We guess the movie creators wanted to add that fun fact into the script, and it was appreciated by some football-lovers.

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Tensions in the Film

The movie discussed race a few times but in a vague and non-detailed matter. Once, when Sean Tuohy confessed that he was surprised with himself that he had an African-American son. And another when a teammate teased Oher while they were out on the field. In actuality, Oher had to deal with more than the film led on.

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Leigh Anne knew that her community, as well as her family, would have a problem with her decision to take in the football player. Regardless of their dissimilarities, Oher and his adoptive family got along well. And when it came to other people, Leigh told them to mind their own business.

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It Was a Rough Transition

Once again, The Blind Side got an aspect of Oher's life wrong. Audiences were shown that he and the Tuohy's quickly got along, and everything was near to perfect. The directors and actors did a great job at depicting a heartfelt story. However, there were some hardships that everyone involved had to go through.

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According to Oher, it took time for both parties to get used to their new living situation. Tensions were high, and there might have been some resistance. It wasn't an immediate connection like seen on film, but over time Oher and the Tuohy family settled in and bonded. Especially S.J and Collins with Big Mike.

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Oher's Mentor

The real Big Mike believed the director credited Leigh Anne with too much credit as his advisor for the game. Oher sensed that the director emphasized the mentor-and-mentee storyline excessively. Although his adoptive mom did help him and his football career, she wasn't the only reason for his achievements.

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According to Oher, there were numerous details omitted from the screenplay that would have helped audiences really know how he achieved success. He wished the movie might have focused on the work he did for himself, "I've been studying, really studying, the game since I was a little kid."

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Sandra Bullock Was Almost Not Cast

It's hard to know whether this movie would have been such a success if it wasn't for Sandra Bullock's performance as Leigh Ann Tuohy. The actress was even awarded both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her role in The Blind Side. That wouldn't have happened if Bullock turned the job down... which she almost did. 

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According to reports, the movie star continuously said no to taking the role because she had doubts about playing a faithful Christian. It wasn't until Bullock got to meet the real Leigh Anne that she officially accepted the job. She wasn't the only one who rejected the offer from the casting directors.

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Julia Roberts Rejected the Role

Before Sandra Bullock was ever offered the role of Leigh Anne, Julia Roberts was asked to join the cast of The Blind Side. Unfortunately, she declined the offer. We wonder if she ever regrets her choice, considering how much of a success the film received.

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Either way, Bullock was clearly an excellent actress to cast as the star of the movie. Especially because after she took the job as this character, her acting career transformed for the better, and she filled endless headlines. We'll dig more into this further along...

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Close in Age

The Blind Side wouldn't have been the same if it wasn't for the star of it all. But, Quinton Aaron wasn't cast to portray the football star only because of his talented acting skills. It was also because he and Michael Oher looked alike. The two are both similar in height and weight and closely resemble one another.

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The only big difference between the two men was their ages. Aaron was born in the year 1984, while the real-life Big Mike's birth year is 1986. Okay, so not such a huge difference since it is just a two-year age gap. We totally see why the actor was hired.

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An Iconic Frienship

Michael Oher might have disliked the way the movie depicted his life story, but he never took those feelings out on the actors who starred in the film. Actually, Oher and one of the stars on The Blind Side connected and till this day have remained friends.

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Sandra Bullock didn't just uplift the screenplay version of Oher; she also supported the off-screen athlete through his achievements. He's not the only one the actress stayed in touch with. Bullock and the Tuohy family also formed a relationship. She has even been spotted sitting next to them on the sidelines, cheering on Oher.

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Life Before His Big Break

It may be surprising for fans of The Blind Side to learn that it was Quinton Aaron's first big break in acting. His performance was so moving we would have never guessed that he wasn't already an experienced actor. But as it happens, he only ever had small roles before finally landing a lead character.

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Due to his strength and large built, Aaron was working as a security guard when he auditioned for the part of Oher. He didn't seem confident with his reading, so he handed the director, John Lee Hancock, his business card just in case they needed a bodyguard on set. He ended up getting the job… just not the one he thought.

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How Oher Was Percieved

A major reason Michael Oher was disappointed with the movie was that he didn't like how it portrayed him to the whole world. But that wasn't the only thing the athlete was left unhappy with. According to him, the way people perceived him in his real life also changed.

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If it was up to Oher, he would have been viewed as a well-respected football star that had to work hard to achieve his goals. But unfortunately, after The Blind Side hit was released, Michael sometimes felt he was only ever perceived as the player that had a movie made about his life.

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Briarcrest Christian School

Michael Oher's transition to Briarcrest Christain School was seen as being very easy in the movie. But that was just the way Hollywood directors decided to portray the situation. Oher's admission to the school was specifically meant to make audiences have an emotional reaction.

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At first, his teachers were hesitant, but after the football player opened up to them, they accepted him into the school. But in reality, it took more than a speech to gain access to Briarcrest. Not only did Oher have to complete challenging assignments, but his coaches also had to advocate for him to the school administrators.

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A Tell-All Book

Around two years after The Blind Side hit theatres, the real Big Mike released a book. He wanted to tell his own version of the story to fix the mistakes that were shown in the movie. Thus, he wrote I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond.

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The book included the real events that took place during Oher's childhood, noting that the film had left out numerous details. He continued to analyze every aspect of the movie that had errors and corrected the writers on their facts. It seems like he really wanted the world to know the truth.

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The Real-Lide Sister

A fan-favorite character was Collins Tuohy, who was portrayed by actress Lily Collins. She played an ambitious, hard-working high school student, and audiences loved it. Not only was Collins a cheerleader, but she was also an athlete who played on the volleyball team.

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Turns out this role wasn't an exaggeration of the real Tuohy daughter. Collins was really on the cheer squad in high school. The only minor difference was instead of playing volleyball, she was a state champion for pole-vaulting. Just like Oher, she went to Ole Miss University.

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Michael and Sean's First Time Meeting

Big Mike first met Sean Tuohy while they were both attending one of Collin's volleyball games. The unforeseen meeting happened as Oher was cleaning up trash left by the forward after the match had ended. The on-screen moment was heartwarming, but like most parts of the film, this scene was exaggerated.

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In actuality, Sean intentionally visited the high school to see Oher. The Tuohy family patriarch was headed to the campus to make sure the football player had enough cash to pay for his meal at lunch. Okay, so the real story is also heartfelt, but still, the movie had the facts wrong.

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Intense Physical Training

When Quinton Aaron decided to take the role of Michael Oher, he wasn't just signing up for difficult acting. He also had to prepare physically if he wanted to nail his part as a football star. To do so, Aarons was trained alongside a professional top-college team.

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Although he was strong before the practice, the movie creators wanted to guarantee Aaron was at his best physical stamina. And that's exactly what the Georgia Tech football team did: they helped the actor get into shape for his lead role. What a commitment!

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Briarcrest's Big Concern

Big Mike attended Wingate Christian School in the movie, but fans know that the real-life academic institute was named Briarcrest Christian School. The name was changed because the school was worried the film would hurt their image since the teachers ignored Oher's academic talents.

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Yet still, other aspects of the school more or less remained the same. The director of The Blind Side, John Lee Hancock, made sure the school's color green was shown throughout the film. Ultimately the movie did a good job at keeping the school's reputation intact.

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Firsts for Quinton Aaron

Starring as a lead role wasn't the only new thing Quinton Aaron had accomplished while filming The Blind Side. Prior to being cast, the actor had never set foot inside an airplane. The first time he ever flew was on his way to the second audition in Los Angeles.

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Visiting the California city of glitz and glam was another first-time adventure for Aarons. Little did the actor know that he would be the main character in an Oscar-nominated movie. Accepting the job to play Micael Oher changed Aaron's life forever.

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Meant To Be

The character that Quinton Aaron portrayed, Michael Oher, had a neglectful mother, but in real life, the actor had a very supportive mom. As a matter of fact, if it wasn't for her, there's a chance Aaron might have never auditioned for The Blind Side.

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The description of the person they were looking for caught her eye when she stumbled across the call for the character. Specifically, the part where it stated the actor needed to be of big built. Aarons mom knew he would be a perfect fit, and she applied for him. Now that's a mother's intuition!

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He Would Have "Done Anything"

To successfully get into his character of Big Mike, the actor who played him had to do way more than just read his lines from the script. Not only did he have to train with a professional top-rated college football team, but Quinton Aaron also had to endure other physical challenges.

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The newbie actor explained that he would have "done anything" for the role of a lifetime. Including losing 100 pounds in a small time frame of three months! The intense weight loss journey was meant to change Aaron's appearance to better fit his character.

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Tim McGraw as Sean

Those who have watched The Blind Side know that Sean Tuohy played a big role in Big Mike's life along with the rest of the family. But what fans might have not realized is that the actor who played the father was none other than the country star, Tim McGraw.

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But Mcgraw wasn't the only person on the movie set who had connections to the music industry. Lily Collins, who played Mcgraws on-set daughter, Collins Tuohy, has a famous musical father. Believe it or not, the actress's dad is, in fact, Genesis's Phil Collins.

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Sandra Bullock’s Life Changed

Before this movie, Sandra Bullock had already made a name for herself in Hollywood. The actress was no newbie to starring in successful films, such as Speed and Miss Congeniality. As a matter of fact, in 2009, when The Blind Side came out, Bullock was also seen in another commercially victorious movie, The Proposal.

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Winning numerous awards for her part, including a Golden Globe and an Academy Award, wasn't her only accomplishment from the sports movie. Bullock was the only female in the film whose name was shown above the title. Meaning it was the first female-led movie that grossed more than 200 million dollars.

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It Broke Records

The Blind Side ended up being a movie that was both commercially and critically acclaimed. But, being recognized by honorable award shows like the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards wasn't the only successful outcome from the family drama screenplay.

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The budget for the film was relatively low, at 30 million dollars. Luckily for everyone involved in its making, the movie brought in a whopping 309.2 million dollars. This broke the record for being the highest-grossing sports movie of all time. It stayed with that title for nearly 10 years.

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Inspired By a Painting

Those who have watched The Blind Side may remember the Thanksgiving scene, where the entire Tuohy family and their adopted son, Michael Oher, sit down together to enjoy a lovely meal. As most Hollywood things are, the scene looked to be picture-perfect.

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If viewers were too busy enjoying the heartfelt moment, they might have missed a small detail. As Leigh Anne placed the cooked turkey on the table, the image on the screen suddenly became an imitation of the notorious painting by Norman Rockwell entitled "led "Freedom from "ant."

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The Truth Behind Good Ol’ Ole Miss

The University of Mississippi is a prominent school in the sports movie, The Blind Side. The reason? Well, Ole Miss was an important place for the Tuohy family because not only did Leigh Anne attend the college, but so did Collins Tuohy and Michael Oher.

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Funny enough, this wasn't Bullock's first character who had a connection to Ole Miss. In 1996, the actress portrayed Ellen Roark in the movie A Time To Kill. Roark was a smart law student who received her undergraduate degree at the Univerity of Mississippi.

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Based on a Book

As has been made very clear by the real Michael Oher, the film about his life wasn't a great representation of the truth. So, where did the movie's creatives get their information from? From a book written by Michael Lewis titled The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.

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The novel wasn't solely about Big Mike. Instead, it focused on the football strategy of offensive and defense and the tale of LaTaylor'saylor's athletic career. Taylor was a football player from 1981 to 1993, in which he played for the  New York Giants. That's why the facts of the film weren't totally accurate...

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They Used Real Coaches

Thousands of football fans went to watch The Blind Side when it first hit theaters. It's possible that the sports enthusiasts might have recognized some familiar faces on the screen. And we're not talking about Sandra Bullock or Tim McGraw. Many of the on-screen coaches were actually real football coaches.

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For instance, Houston Nutt played the Ole Miss coach in the film. That was no coincidence since he actually happened to coach Oher in real life. Other retired or current athletic instructors that had a part in the film were Ed Orgeron, Phillip Fulmer, and Nick Saban.

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Finally, Saying 'I Do!'

After being engaged for over 1 year and together for 17 years, Oher recently tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend, Tiffany Roy, in Nashville, Tennessee. The beautiful couple celebrated amongst family and friends, and according to Roy, the "most magical part was our [their] vows."

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Roy told People she had "been waiting a long time for this magical day," and it was "filled with so much joy, excitement, and happiness." The two originally met all those years ago at the administration building of the University of Mississippi. And well, the rest is now history.

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