Rudy has enjoyed a perennial seat in the upper echelons of the most inspirational sports movies. The 1993 classic was at the forefront of a wave of sports films based on true stories. Classics like Mystery, Alaska, Remember the Titans, Glory Road, and Friday Night Lights all continued to blaze the trail of a genre Rudy reinvigorated.
However, there are times when Hollywood bends the very meaning of the phrase, "based on a true story," by sanitizing movies. For instance, there are lots of historical facts that movies got wrong. There is certainly a healthy share of Rudy Ruettiger facts in the film, but it is also guilty of ignoring facts and flat-out rewriting history. This list compares some of the real Rudy Ruettiger stories to how they were depicted in the timeless inspirational movie.
Fortune Didn't Exist, Either
Fortune's timing in the film aligns almost perfectly with Rudy's need of an unassuming mentor. He needed a mentor with experience who knew how to tap into Rudy's ambition and understood his burning determination to achieve his goal. If Fortune sounds too good to be true, it's because he isn't real.
Fortune's purpose in the film was almost the exact opposite of Frank's, but the reasoning behind their fabrications was identical. Fortune's character, played by Charles S. Dutton, was a composite of everyone Rudy encountered along the way who was encouraging, even if the encouragement came in the form of tough love.
Knute Rockne's Epic Halftime Speech Was An Old Performance Piece
The speech was so nice that they did it twice. Notre Dame juggernaut coach, Knute Rockne, led the Fighting Irish to win five National Championships between 1918 to 1930. He’s also responsible for authoring the famous halftime speech that Rudy Ruettiger recites twice in the movie. The second occurrence is the one most are familiar with, when Rudy enters the Fighting Irish locker room for the first time.
But according to the university’s own archives, Rockne “performed a pep talk for the newsreels,” and it “was not for any particular game of situation.” Nevertheless, in the film Rudy performs Rockne’s showy speech verbatim to an empty locker room, save for the made-up character Fortune.
Daniel Ruettiger Did Not Laugh In The Face Of Young Rudy's Dream
This misrepresentation may not be as egregious as some of the other filmmakers' missteps, but for anyone who had a hardliner as a father, it might stand out. In the scenes depicting Rudy’s early years, the audience first learn of his ambition to play football at Notre Dame as the family gathers around the television for dinner.
Rudy declares, “After high school I’m gonna play football at Notre Dame,” and his father impulsively laughs out loud. Rudy is visibly crushed, and although Daniel quickly recovers, his instinctive disbelief sets the tone for the adversity yet to come. The real Daniel Ruettiger was always encouraging and supportive of his children’s dreams.
Notre Dame Did Not Play Penn State When Rudy Attended
There's a winter game in the film that takes place during the 1974 season, with Rudy supporting the Fighting Irish as a civilian from the stands. However, the Notre Dame and Penn State football teams did not play each other in the 1974 or 1975 seasons. Another dead giveaway is the zero minutes of screen time the Penn State team has in the movie. So why do they match up in the movie?
All the game scenes in the movie were filmed throughout the 1992 football season, including the game against Penn State on November 14, 1992. It's reasonable to surmise the production didn't have a line item in the budget to costume all the fans in the stands, which led to the decision to pretend Penn State was on the 1974 schedule.