"Cinderella Man" Writer Cliff Hollingsworth Discusses the Film

Interview with Cliff Hollingsworth from the "Cinderella Man" Premiere

Ron Howard Russell Crowe cinderella
Director Ron Howard and Russell Crowe on the set of "Cinderella Man". © Universal Studios
Cliff Hollingsworth on the Importance of Getting Jim Braddock’s Story Right: “I’d done a good deal of previous research and when I met with the family and Jay Braddock who’s since past away – he died about 3 years ago – he gave me one ultimatum. He said, ‘You make sure that my father and mother are portrayed accurately.’ He said, ‘You can make us, the kids, look like little monkeys or whatever.’ But he said, ‘You make sure my mother and father are portrayed accurately.’ And I set out to do that.
That’s what I wanted to do anyway and so when I wrote the first draft, I sent it to the two Braddock brothers. They told me they were very happy with it. They said, ‘You captured them both. We’re happy.’”

The Braddock Family and Script Approval on “Cinderella Man:” “They didn’t have any kind of script approval. But I wanted their approval obviously because it was their father and it meant a lot to me to hear them say they were proud of this script.”

Why Did America Forget About Jim Braddock?: “That’s a great question because his story was so phenomenal. An underdog story for the ages. It’s puzzling to me, too. I really don’t know.

I know that when I talked to Jay Braddock, the oldest son, he said it bothered him that his father was a forgotten hero. He would tell people often that [his] dad used to be the heavyweight champ of the world. They’d say, ‘Who was he?’ He’d say, ‘Jim Braddock,’ and they’d say we’ve never heard of him.

And he’d say, ‘Have you ever heard of Joe Louis?’ They’d say, ‘Of course.’ So he’d say, ‘That’s who won the championship from my father.’ But I don’t know the answer to that. That’s a great question and I can’t figure it out. He’s such an inspiring story. I really don’t know. It’s a puzzle.”

Cliff Hollingsworth on Jim Braddock the Man: “He was really a guy that was too good to be true.

I mean, he was religious, he was so honest that when he went on Welfare he paid it back later with interest. That’s absolutely true. Like I said, he was a character who was too good to be true - but he was.”

Why Contemporary Audiences Will Relate to a Movie Set During the Great Depression: “You know I think it’s possibly because none of us have lived through it. We’ve heard about it. And actually seeing what they went through in the Great Depression… You read about it in a book but that’s not the same as watching it onscreen. You feel like you’re there when you’re watching the movie because it’s very realistic. I think, in my own opinion, that’s why it resonates. People are seeing what people went through back then. It’s like, ‘Wow, I had no idea it was that brutal.’”

On Russell Crowe as Jim Braddock in “Cinderella Man:” “I thought it would be a terrific role for an actor. I had hopes of this happening. If I’d been an actor I would have loved to have played Jim Braddock. So, yeah, you know it didn’t surprise me that it happened because it’s such a great role.”

Cliff Hollingsworth’s Next Project: “I’m working on one now that’s another true story. I don’t want to say too much about it yet but I just made a deal to get the rights from an ancestor of this person.

It’s about a famous American and it’s a story that I think will surprise people.”