“Heart, Baby!” tells the true story of a Tennessee prisoner who refused to box for the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, even though that meant passing on a chance at freedom.
“When [the director] got me the script for the first time, I looked at it and thought to myself, ‘This is impossible. This can’t be true.’ And if it is true, how come we haven’t heard this story before?” actor Jackson Rathbone explained.
Rathbone plays George’s childhood friend and fellow prisoner, Doc.
“It was daunting because I had the real-life Doc — the guys that I’m playing — on set,” he said.
When asked about Hollywood films elevating unsung heroes, Rathbone said “it’s about time.”
“George Martin was the best prison boxer in Tennessee and in the South and they brought in these heavyweights, these actual pro fighters to come in and box with him, and he would knock them out,” he explained. “So when the governor came and said ‘George, we’re going to pardon your life sentence if you go fight for the U.S. in the 1984 Olympics,’ George said no.”
Rathbone says that projects like “Heart, Baby!” appeal to the heart in people, and is giving a platform to voices that might not have one.