Kenneth “K.C.” Harris had never made a movie before–indeed, his only acting experience was in a school play–but the thirteen-year old resident of Irving, Texas now has a credit on his resume as one of the “Bad News Bears” in Richard Linklater’s remake of the 1976 Walter Matthau hit about a team of foul-mouthed Little League misfits coached by a cantankerous fellow now played by Billy Bob Thornton. Harris plays Ahmad Abdul Rahmin, the serious, soft-spoken tyke who idolizes Mark McGuire, and in a Dallas interview he talked about getting the part.
“I found out about it, and went to the open call [in Dallas],” he said, “and they asked me to throw a pitch, and I did. And after they asked me to do that, they pulled me aside and said to read the lines from the script.” That’s where there was a bump in the road. “And it had some profanity in the script,” he continued, “so I didn’t want to say it. They said to sleep on it, so I did. And then they said, come in tomorrow. And then the next day I came in, and the same thing happened. They said, go out to lunch with my dad. And when we went out to lunch, I told my dad I wasn’t going to say them. And he said, what if they said you have to, or you don’t get the part, and I said that’s fine. We went back to the place and they said that’s it, bye, see you later, good luck.” But the story had a happy ending: “Two, three weeks later I got a call saying I got the part.” And in the finished movie Rahmin’s dialogue is suspiciously profanity-free.
The picture was shot in California over the course of several months. “My mom went with me,” K.C. said, “and my dad came out for [weekends]. We flew down here for Christmas and New Year’s. And during Thanksgiving, Billy invited me and my mom and dad to his house. I got to meet some of his friends. That was pretty cool.”
By that time Thornton was an old friend. “Before we started shooting, we had this party at Billy’s house,” he explained. “Since he was from Texas, we got along pretty great.” The time on the set with him, Greg Kinnear and Marcia Gay Hardin was also fun. “They were all really cool, really nice,” K.C. said. “They played with us–they all played football with us. And video games. And poker–some of the kids, we played. That was fun.”
Of course, the shoot also involved work, which didn’t always go as well as hoped. K.C. said that bloopers were frequent. “I made a lot of those,” he recalled, laughing. “One scene I did, where I was running, I was running so fast I flew out of my shoe.” Another scene seemed unlucky: “Every day we tried to do that scene, it was raining–it’s like the scene was jinxed or something.” In another case he had to take a hit in the helmet from Thornton: “I only had to do that scene once. I wanted to do it so many more times!” he added with a laugh. And since he was playing first-base (unlike in real life), he often had to catch balls thrown by Sammi Kane Kraft, in the old Tatum O’Neal role as the team’s star pitcher. “She pitched 75 miles per hour!” K.C. said. “It’s creepy–whenever she throws on first, it’s like my hand’s on fire.”
The final product was strange to watch for Harris, too. “It’s kind of scary, seeing yourself up on an eighteen-foot screen,” he said. “And your voice sounds different than what you think it sounds like.” But he enjoyed going to the New York premiere: “It’s sort of like a family reunion.” And he added: “Oh yeah, I want to continue acting. It’s fun.”