Today, October 28, marks the 27th anniversary of the tackle on the two-yard line that changed the course of Ole Miss history forever.
In 1989, Roy Lee “Chucky” Mullins, an Ole Miss defensive back, became paralyzed after tackling Vanderbilt fullback Brad Gaines.
Now, 27 years later, Brad Gaines is working with three-time Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker Fritz Mitchell, producer Wendy Yomano of Mount Philo Films and award winning sports writer Jeff Sarokin to produce “It’s Time,” based on the true, heartwarming story of Gaines’ and Mullins’ friendship.
Emmy-nominated Pierson Fodé will star as Brad Gaines and Sedale Threatt Jr. will star as Chucky Mullins, with newcomer Bradford Gaines Jr., son of Brad Gaines, as young Brad and Timmy Richardson as young Chucky.
In a story of fate and faith, friendship and family, race and redemption, life’s hardship and love’s power, “It’s Time” tells how Gaines and Mullins became friends and ultimately, brothers.
“27 years after the hit, the raw emotions of this event remain on the surface for all those involved. The story still resonates and has become part of the fabric of Southern story telling,” Mitchell said. “I’m so thrilled to be working with such a talented group of young actors who bring layers to these characters that I didn’t know existed.”
Jeff Sarokin, who wrote the script for ESPN’s SEC Network documentary about Brad and Chucky’s story, also titled “It’s Time,” became friends with Brad Gaines during the making of the documentary.
“Brad liked the way we did the documentary. So, he asked our team to help make the movie, and he asked me to write it,” Sarokin said. “The story itself, just as it’s told in the documentary, is a love story. It’s a story about the South and football; it’s a story about social attitudes on race; it’s a story about faith; it’s a story about courage and friendships. It’s a wonderful story, and I’m very grateful to be given the opportunity to write it as a movie.”
Sarokin said that he saw how important the story was to not only Brad Gaines, but also to the Ole Miss community.
“I hope we have a good movie, and I hope everyone likes it, but the best thing to come out of this for me is the friendship that I’ve developed with Brad Gaines,” Sarokin said. “I didn’t know Chucky, but everyone who did feels they were a better person for having known him; and I feel I’m a better person for having written his story.”
Actor Sedale Threatt Jr. visited the hometown of Mullins in Russellville, Alabama, in hopes of feeling a deeper connection to the Ole Miss legend.
As Threatt learned more about Mullins, his community, his relationship with Brad Gaines and his life, the more he felt the sense of brotherhood. But the brotherhood Threatt imagined may not be as one may expect: a brotherhood between Mullins and Gaines.
“In NFL, they all feel a brotherhood, like, ‘Man, a fallen soldier has gone down doing what we would have done,'” Threatt said. “So for a young man like him (Mullins) to lose the battle two years later…He was doing what he loved and it literally cost him his life. I think that is what everybody can relate to.. that is what makes the story of Chucky Mullins a community, a human story. That’s why it’s so important to tell this story, and I believe it’s an honor to do so.”
Threatt watched documentaries, read news articles and books, everything he could find to learn about Mullins and fit the part. He saw the impact Mullins had on the Ole Miss community and on Brad Gaines. But after being a part of it, Threatt felt differently.
“I didn’t know the gravity,” Threatt said. “I didn’t know what the gravity was with the community; I didn’t know that the documentary was being shown to every incoming freshman; I didn’t know there was a Chucky Mullins Drive; I didn’t know over here in Jackson, local kids, you know, 12 years old, and they know Chucky Mullins. I didn’t know what it meant to everyone until I actually got here. That’s when I find out how much this mattered.”
Randall Haley is the managing editor of HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.