How Historically Accurate Is Rudy? - Grunge (2022)

How Historically Accurate Is Rudy? - Grunge (1)

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BySandra Mardenfeld/Jan. 5, 2022 11:47 am EDT

While the 1993 sports drama, "Rudy," generated just under $23 million in worldwide box office, according to Box Office Mojo, the flick became a blockbuster in people's hearts.The inspiring movie revolved around Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger's pursuit of playing on the Notre Dame football team. The third of 14 children in a lower-middle class family, Ruettiger played the sport at Joliet Catholic Academy in Illinois and even led the team in tackles during his junior and senior year. Still, at 5 foot, 6 inches and 165 pounds, a college football career seemed unlikely. "Rudy" told the "true" story of Ruettiger. It followed his journey studying at Holy Cross Junior College and working as a groundskeeper for Notre Dame Stadium as well as getting accepted to the university, making the scout team, and finally dressing for a game on November 8, 1975 — a day he was carried off the field after sacking Georgia Tech's quarterback (via Bleacher Report).

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The made-for-cinema moment, captured by Sean Astin as Rudy in the film, propelled Ruettiger into a career as an author and motivational speaker, according to People, and became a beloved story to people who embraced its anything-is-possible message. "'Rudy' captured people's imagination over time was just how much heart is in the movie," explained Astin to Forbes. "This story itself, Rudy's life, the ambition that he had, his drive and his determination, he has so much heart."

But how much does the movie adhere to real life? Here's the truth behind the filmmaking.

Coach Devine wasn't a villain

How Historically Accurate Is Rudy? - Grunge (2)

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A movie "based on a true story" leaves much room for fictionalizing the narrative. Yet, "Rudy," claimed Rev. William Beauchamp, former executive vice president of Notre Dame, represented Daniel Ruettiger's Notre Dame journey well. University officials, including Beauchamp, reviewed the script prior to filming to ensure its accuracy. "We didn't change much," he toldThe New York Times.

Some revisions to the truth became necessary to upgrade the drama, including one of "Rudy's" most powerful scenes when the Notre Dame football players, one by one, placed their jerseys on coach Dan Devine's desk to convince him that Rudy deserved to dress for the last game. The moment resonates in the film, but it's just a piece of movie-making. "There's not an iota of truth to it," said Devine to The Times. "Rudy was on the original dress list and there was never any intention to hold him out of the game. And anybody who knows me knows that if any kid came in and put his jersey on my desk, he'd never see it again."

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Screenwriter Angelo Pizzo thought the changes were necessary to "capture the key truthful element and let the drama take over. This wasn't a documentary," according to another New York Times article. In fact, just relying on the truth might temper the movie's ending. Ruettiger did play on the field for 27 seconds, according to the Los Angeles Times, but not everything in the finale happened.

What really happened in the stadium

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Former football quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs (via Biography), Joe Montana played on the 1975 team with Ruettiger and dismissed the movie's accuracy on the "Dan Patrick Show" in 2010, according to TMZ Sports. For example, no one chanted Rudy's name in the bleachers during the final scene when the crowd urges coach Devine to put the scrappy player on the field, Montana said. Ruettiger, though, asserted that the scene reflects reality. "Hell yeah, it happened!" Ruettiger said to ESPN. "Man, if just my family and friends alone had done it, it would have been enough, but there was a group of students who started it."

Montana also claimed that while the players hoisted Ruettiger onto their shoulders and carried him off the field, they did so more as a goof, not as a moment of triumph. "I won't say as a joke, but playing around," he told the show. Montana also seemingly takes offense to the emphasis placed on Ruettiger's impressive work ethic — something he said the entire Notre Dame squad actively pursued. "He worked his butt off to get where he was ... but not any harder than anybody else."

Real and fake characters

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Joe Montana is never mentioned in the flick. Using real names required too much paperwork to obtain the releases needed, said Ruettiger to the Los Angeles Times, so the players in the film all sport monikers. Some real-life participants in Ruettiger's story, though, do appear, including Father James Riehle, who played himself as the priest in the Notre Dame locker room, and trainer John Whitmer.

Former Notre Dame defensive lineman Peter Rausch is the only actual squad member seen in the film, reported Mental Floss. Heplays number 75, a team member named Steve, who begins the rallying cry of "Rudy" while standing on the field. Dressed in a blue coat with a fur collar, Ruettiger also makes a cameo in the movie as part of the stadium's audience, seated behind Ned Beatty as Rudy's father in the stands.He also visited the set daily as a consultant.

(Video) 1975 Notre Dame vs. Georgia Tech - The Rudy Play

Composite characters represented experiences

How Historically Accurate Is Rudy? - Grunge (5)

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Daniel Ruettiger estimated that the film was 92% accurate, reported Military.Sometimes the filmmakers did create composites to represent the people Ruettiger knew.

Occasionally, such roles also symbolized greater story arcs. For instance, Rudy never had a big brother named Frank, played by Scott Benjaminson, but in the movie, the character depicted "everybody who ever discouraged me," Ruettiger toldThe New York Times.Thegroundskeeper, Fortune, played byCharles S. Dutton, also represented the group of people that helped Ruettiger along his way, according to The New York Post. Father Cavanaugh (Robert Prosky), who assisted Rudy's academic pursuits, also was an amalgam of individuals."There were several who played important roles, but, again, you can't develop them all in one two-hour movie," said Ruettiger to the "Pigskin Post" and quoted byChasing the Frog. "All through my life, I would encounter people like that and they would help me get through the tough times through their wisdom and their encouragement."

Scenes that replicated real life

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The movie also streamlined parts of Rudy's story, ignoring that Ruettiger enlisted in the Navy after high school and worked in a power plant (not in asteel mill as the film showed)before pursuing his Notre Dame dream, said ESPN. The death of a work friend did propel him back to school. "They were taking him away, and I was standing there, covered in his blood," said Ruettiger to ESPN. "Then I heard a voice as clear as you talking to me right now. You call it whatever you want. My gut, my conscious, God. All it said was, 'Leave.'"

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The movie "Rudy" sought to re-create the feel of Ruettiger's experience, and filmed Astin reading his Notre Dame acceptance letter from the same bench the real Rudy actually sat on when he did the same. Astin also stood where Ruettiger was located on the football field. In the end, the film captures the essence of what Ruettiger went through. "It's about the journey," Ruettiger said to The New York Post. "I had to get there academically. I had to get there economically. I got beat up. How many guys would have quit along the way? You don't quit just because the odds are against you. You don't have to be an All-American. You just have to have character and courage, and I take that message very seriously."



How accurate was the movie Rudy? ›

Ruettiger appeared in a cameo as a fan behind his father, played by Ned Beatty, during the final game scenes. Ruettiger has said that the movie is "92% true." The players did not lay down their jerseys; rather, the team captain and one other player requested that he be allowed to play.

Was there really a Rudy chant? ›

The crowd wasn't chanting, nobody threw in their jerseys. He did get in the ball game. He got carried off after the game." Nearly 10 years later in an interview on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast, Montana reiterated that the jersey scene and crowd chanting did not actually occur.

What is the true story behind the movie Rudy? ›

As chronicled in Hollywood's 1993 movie Rudy, Ruettiger struggled to overcome financial and physical hurdles in pursuit of his goal. Because of his dyslexia and small frame, acceptance into the University of Notre Dame seemed like a lofty dream. But in real life, just as in the movie, Rudy Ruettiger never gave up.

Is D Bob from Rudy a real person? ›

D-Bob. Dennis a.k.a “D-Bob” is another mostly fictional character who provided some awkward humor to the story. Besides being a tutor, he was also Rudy's best thread after Pete died.

Did the priest help Rudy get into Notre Dame? ›

Shocked into a life decision, Rudy packs a duffel bag and heads to Notre Dame, determined to gain acceptance. There, he is befriended by a priest who gets Rudy enrolled at nearby Holy Cross, a community college. After several setbacks, Ruettiger finally gets into Notre Dame.

Who sat out so Rudy could play? ›

9: Divides Him and Former Teammates. After Montana "exposed" Rudy to the world, some of their former teammates rushed to Rudy's side. "Rudy was carried off the field that day . . . but not as a joke -- but because he finally got to play," Jay Achterhoff said to TMZ.

Where is the real Rudy today? ›

Today, Ruettiger, 72, and works as a motivational speaker and author, having penned the books, Rudy: My Story, and Rudy Ruettiger: The Walk On.

What lie does Rudy tell in order to paint the helmets? ›

He lies about his student status just to get a whiff of the freshly laid helmet paint. It's real sick stuff, and thankfully Rudy gets drunk afterwards—the next day he can't afford a ticket—before confessing his non-student status at some shitheel South Bend bar. The ploy doesn't work.

Did Rudy achieve his goal? ›

Through the help of a kind pastor, Father Cavanaugh, Rudy outlines a plan to get himself into Notre Dame and overcome his difficulties in school. Through hard work and dedication to his schoolwork, Rudy finally gets accepted to Notre Dame after being denied admission three times.

What was Rudy's disability? ›

Rudy had made an impossible play, sacking the opposing team's most formidable quarterback. At “five-foot nothin' and a hundred and nothin'” real-life football legend Rudy Ruettiger, upon whom the film was based, was an unlikely sports hero. He wasn't just short and skinny … he also suffered from severe dyslexia.

What was Rudy's learning disability? ›

Rudy was not the best football player so he persevered through his school trials and worked his tail off, for school and for his football team.An example of perseverance, is when Rudy was diagnosed with dyslexia, which caused him to work harder to reach his dream and to get good grades.

What do you think Rudy's 3 biggest obstacles were in this movie? ›

Practically speaking, Rudy has some real problems: he could not afford Notre Dame, his grades were low, his athletic ability was poor, he stood just over five feet tall, and weighed just over 100 pounds.

Who is the black janitor in Rudy? ›

Charles S. Dutton
BornCharles Stanley Dutton January 30, 1951 Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
EducationHagerstown Community College (AA) Towson University (BA) Yale University (MFA)
OccupationActor director producer
Years active1984–present
2 more rows

Who married Daniel Ruettiger? ›

Did the real Rudy appear in the movie? ›

Does the real Rudy Ruettiger appear in the film? Yes, Rudy does appear in the movie. He can be found near the end in the stands behind Ned Beatty, who plays Rudy's father. The real Rudy is the man Ned turns around and beats on when Rudy gets in the game.

How did Rudy get into Holy Cross? ›

For two years, he was a yeoman at sea. In fact, his GI Bill benefits allowed him to enroll at Holy Cross in 1972, two years before becoming one of Ara Parseghian's scout players.

How many times was Rudy rejected by Notre Dame before he was finally accepted? ›

Despite his academic challenges and being undersized at 5'6'' and 165 pounds, his lifelong dream was to attend the University of Notre Dame and play football for the Fighting Irish, his father's favorite team. He was rejected from Notre Dame three times before finally receiving his acceptance letter.

What significant event triggered Rudy to truly pursue his goal of attending Notre Dame? ›

His biggest motivation is external. This is when his best friend, Pete, gets killed in an accident at the steel mill where they both work. Rudy then realized that he has to go follow his dream of playing football for Notre Dame before it's too late.

How many times did Rudy get rejected? ›

Rudy worked tirelessly to gain admission to Notre Dame so he could play football there. Eventually, after being rejected three times, he was accepted at Notre Dame and soon thereafter earned a spot on the football team's practice squad.

Did Rudy really have a friend named Pete? ›

Pete is a boyhood friend of Rudy's in the movie, and his death is the inspiration for Rudy to pursue his dreams of attending Notre Dame. In reality, they met while working at the power plant, though Pete's death in June 1972 actually was the reason why Rudy decided to leave home for Notre Dame.

Who said not everyone is meant to go to college in Rudy? ›

His father (Ned Beatty), wanting to protect Rudy from the kinds of disappointment visited regularly upon the Ruettiger family, counsels, "Rudy, not everyone is meant to go to college."

How big was the real Rudy? ›

Despite being undersized for a football player -- 5 feet, 6 inches tall and 165 pounds -- Ruettiger was accepted as a defensive end on Notre Dame's Fighting Irish football team due to his drive and determination. His claim to fame was brief, but spectacular. On Nov.

Who was the real Rudy at Notre Dame? ›

Ruettiger was the third born of 14 children in Joliet, Illinois, in 1948, the son of a German-American family. He was a kid who didn't do well in school, due to dyslexia, and a high school football player with a dream to suit up at Notre Dame. He was a senior in college at 27 years old.

How did Rudy overcome his obstacles? ›

He overcame his obstacles by not listening to the negative advice people gave him; instead, he focused on one thing: his end goal. He said later in interviews that it wasn't his pre-football life that was the low point in his life. It was after football finished where he had the most struggle.

Has any Notre Dame player been carried off the field? ›

Some players simply mentioned Rudy's situation to an assistant coach, who relayed the message to Devine, who allowed Rudy to suit up. In Reel Life: At the end of the film, it says, "Since 1975, no other Notre Dame player has been carried off the field."

Who and what were the negative people and things in Rudy's life that tried to discourage him from pursuing his dream? ›

People who discourage him are his father by telling Rudy that he can't play football at Notre Dame. The teacher by laughing at him saying how he doesn't have the grades to get into the university. and his brother by saying how hes to small to play football.

Who does Rudy get to play against when he does dress? ›

On Nov. 8, 1975, Devine decided that Rudy was going to dress for the first and last time of his football career. On this sunny Saturday afternoon, playing against a powerful Georgia Tech team, Rudy stepped onto the Field of Rockne. While it may not seem like a lot to many, he saw action in two plays.

Why are Rudy's teammates mad at him? ›

Eventually when Rudy does become a football player for Notre Dame a few players on the team, Jim and Jamie become angry with Rudy because his constant need to work hard and impress his coaches makes them look bad. They tell him to stop trying so hard, but Rudy keeps giving it his all.

What was Rudy's dream or goal? ›

Rudy as a young american boy had great dream's in sports especially in Football. He wanted to be involved in this sport, but everyone around him said that he couldn't. Now as a young man in college he is out to get everyone who tried to prove him wrong.

What was Rudy's long term goal? ›

One of Rudy's long term goals was to become a Notre Dame football player. one of his short term goals was to play football in high school.

What does death say about Rudy's death? ›

Death then reveals that, in two years, Rudy will die and that he won't deserve to die the way he does, during a bombing. Liesel will be there to weep over his body, which, Death thinks, Rudy would have liked.

What does Rudy Steiner fear? ›

Rudy Steiner was scared of the book thief's kiss. He must have longed for it so much. He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grave without them.

What is Rudy short for? ›

A short form of Rudolph, Rudy is a boy's name of German origin. Derived from the German name Hrōdwulf, Rudy basks in the glow of its meaning, "famous wolf." Surely destined for great things, it may be no surprise that Rudy already enjoys prestigious royal ties.

How much of the movie Rudy is accurate? ›

Ruettiger appeared in a cameo as a fan behind his father, played by Ned Beatty, during the final game scenes. Ruettiger has said that the movie is "92% true." The players did not lay down their jerseys; rather, the team captain and one other player requested that he be allowed to play.

Who said sometimes a winner is a dreamer who just won't quit? ›

Sometimes a winner is a dreamer who just won't quit. footballer and motivational speaker Rudy Ruettiger.

Was Rudy offsides in the movie? ›

Ruettiger's head and left arm both seem to be well over the 20 yard line and line of scrimmage. So this answers the age old question of “Was Rudy offside?” The answer: Yes, Rudy was offside.

What does Rudy give the dying pilot? ›

Rudy gives the dying pilot a teddy bear, and the pilot thanks him, in English. Death takes the pilot's soul.

What is the message of Rudy movie? ›

His blue-collar family only laughs at his ambitions - they know Rudy will follow his father and brothers to the local steel mill. But Rudy proves everyone wrong and goes after his impossible dream of playing football for Notre Dame. Themes in Rudy include believing in yourself, hard work, and overcoming adversity.

How does Rudy inspire or influence other characters in the film? ›

Rudy made it onto the football team by sticking to his dreams and never giving up on himself even though his father already did. Everybody in the movie learned how hard Rudy had worked to accomplish his dreams. Everybody can use life-lessons from the movie Rudy in their own life.

Why did ROC get Cancelled? ›

Fox recently canceled the show after three seasons, citing poor ratings. According to Nielsen, official tracker of what we watch, Roc ranked 117th among 124 shows. Fox says it made a decision simply based on that fact.

Did Rudy really sack the quarterback? ›

And it was Montana's absence on the field that gave “Rudy” the opportunity to replace him on the roster. On Nov. 8, 1975, “Rudy” recorded a sack on the final play of the game and was carried off the field after the win.

Is Rudy Ruettiger LDS? ›

Rudy Ruettiger, a former Notre Dame Fighting Irish walk-on whose brief career was dramatized by Hollywood, was baptized Saturday into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Yes, Rudy - who attended Joliet Catholic High School - is now a Mormon.

Did the players really turn in their jerseys in Rudy? ›

nobody threw in their jerseys," Montana sighed. Ruettiger readily concedes that the jersey scene was a fictional moment brought to his story by director David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo.

What college is Rudy obsessed with? ›

“Rudy” follows Ruettiger as he grows up in Joliet obsessed with Notre Dame football and dreams of playing against all odds.

How many times was Rudy rejected from Notre Dame? ›

Rudy worked tirelessly to gain admission to Notre Dame so he could play football there. Eventually, after being rejected three times, he was accepted at Notre Dame and soon thereafter earned a spot on the football team's practice squad.

What were Rudy's 3 biggest obstacles? ›

Practically speaking, Rudy has some real problems: he could not afford Notre Dame, his grades were low, his athletic ability was poor, he stood just over five feet tall, and weighed just over 100 pounds.

What was Rudy's most important goal in the movie Rudy? ›

Rudy was never going to be a starting member of the Notre Dame football team. He understood that. But he did find an achievable goal based on that dream: the chance to suit up with the team for one game and get on the field just once, so he could forever say he was a Notre Dame football player.

Why did the coach quit in Rudy? ›

He said he was "physically exhausted and emotionally drained" after 25 years of coaching and needed a break. His last game was Notre Dame's 13–11 win in a rematch against Alabama in the Orange Bowl.

Who were the negative people in Rudy's life? ›

The movie portrayed Rudy's father as always being very negative and unsupportive of Rudy's desire to play football; in reality, his father was not as harsh but agreed to be portrayed as such on film to make it more dramatic. Rudy had two older sisters and he was the oldest brother in a family of 14 children.

Who were the people in Rudy's life that supported him name at least 3 and explain how they supported him? ›

People who encouraged Rudy were his friend pete by helping him achieve his goals and giving him friendly support that he can do it. The priest by letting him into the holy cross which allows him to get into the university and helping to support him.

What was Rudy's GPA for Notre Dame? ›

He graduated with a 1.77 GPA, less than a C average. He wanted to be a part of Notre Dame, but didn't know how to get there, especially with his terrible grades.


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