As the United States is notably absent from the men’s 2018 World Cup, Alex Morgan is shifting focus back to the women’s team.
Her new movie “Alex & Me” comes out digitally on June 12, and on DVD/Blu-Ray June 19. It tells the story of 13-year-old Reagan Willis (played by Siena Agudong), who dreams of playing soccer for the United States. Along the way, she receives personal guidance from her hero, Morgan, to overcome her brother’s shadow and pursue her dream.
Though she’s busy with training, after Morgan read the script, taking on the movie as an actor and co-producer was a no-brainer.
“I was introduced to the script initially almost two years ago by Eric [Champnella], the director and writer,” she told Yahoo Sports. “Initially, I never would have thought something like this would have come to life, but I felt like with everything that I’ve done previously with the kids books and the TV series, it was just another add-in there to that, and I felt like there is so much demand for sports movies garnered towards girls.”
Morgan’s children’s book series “The Kicks” first published in 2014, and it was developed into an Amazon television show which premiered in 2015. Similar to the movie, “The Kicks” is about a middle-school girl, Devon, who is tasked with leading her struggling soccer team.
The move to the silver screen was only natural, but almost more importantly, it fit into Morgan’s schedule.
“Eventually we got a date to film, which was in October, where I had exactly two weeks free from the national team,” Morgan said. “I said, ‘I have these two weeks free, if we can make it work within that time frame,’ so they fit all my scenes within that time period, and the whole movie was shot in five or six weeks.”
Just as she had to work tirelessly for her seemingly natural prowess on the soccer field, so, too, did Morgan have to work to look natural on camera.
“It was definitely a steep learning curve, and there’s a lot of things that I had to learn to do quickly, and a lot of people I had to get to know quickly, especially my cast members,” Morgan said. “We wanted it to come across as natural, and the first couple of days were difficult for me, just not having acting experience. But as the week went on and we got to know each other, I just really came to love my castmates and we actually talk all the time still today.”
Though she is not an expert in acting, Morgan could empathize with Reagan’s character in terms of her soccer aspirations and offer guidance in that realm. She turns 29 in July, meaning she was 10 when the U.S. women’s national team won the 1999 World Cup.
And if she were to pick a someone to have played her younger self’s mentor in a movie, it would be a star from that team.
“That’s what sparked this passion and this love for soccer – someone like Mia Hamm or Kristine Lilly were players that I looked up to,” Morgan said, “and I’m pretty sure I freaked out one time when I saw them.”
Morgan’s ties to the World Cup run deep. Beyond her fandom in youth, Morgan herself won it in 2015, so she understands the significance of going both as a player and as a representative of the United States.
So with the U.S. men’s team watching the 2018 World Cup from home, she understands their pain, but acknowledges the cutthroat nature of professional sports.
“It’s obviously devastating that the U.S. won’t be represented in the men’s World Cup, and obviously there’s some fans here in the U.S. that want to root on our team, and that is heartbreaking, but at the same time, that’s the World Cup,” she said.
And as the world dwells on the men’s team’s misfortune, she reminds everyone that her team will likely take the biggest stage a year from now.
“I want to continue to draw attention and also show people that not only is the men’s World Cup around the corner, but that the women’s Cup is also next year,” she said. “And it’s fun being part of these experiences and being able to bring attention to women’s soccer.”
And as to whether there might be more acting in her future?
“I have no idea,” she said. “But I do know that in the near future, the World Cup and the Olympics take priority over all else.”
World Cup coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• 2018 World Cup preview hub
• From Messi to Henderson, the top 100 players at the World Cup
• Top 25 players who aren’t going to Russia
• Group previews: A | B | C | D | E | F
• FC Yahoo Mixer: With U.S. out, who to root for?