NFL Great Kurt Warner on 'American Underdog'

The former star quarterback talks about the film based on his life, overcoming big setbacks and what he does for his spiritual well-being.

Posted in , Mar 16, 2022

Actor Zachary Levi (left) plays Kurt Warner in the movie 'American Underdog.'

Former National Football League star Kurt Warner overcame years of challenges —he was an undrafted free agent, worked as a night-shift grocery stock clerk to make ends meet, and was even practically homeless at one point—to become a Super Bowl champion and Hall of Fame quarterback. Kurt remains the only undrafted player to be named both NFL MVP (twice!) and Super Bowl MVP. His real-life story of how the support of his wife, Brenda, as well as family, coaches, teammates—and his faith —helped fuel his success is the subject of the inspirational new movie American Underdog.

Kurt (played by actor Zachary Levi, above, left) talked with about what it feels like seeing his life played out on the big screen, his real-life hero and the best advice he’s ever gotten. 

Q: What does it feel like seeing your life unfold on-screen?
A: It is pretty amazing to think someone felt our story could impact other people. It’s been very interesting getting comfortable with the idea that the movie is not a documentary, and it’s not the whole story, but simply the snapshot we chose to share. Once we got comfortable with that idea, it has been fun to embrace the journey and hear the positive responses from so many.

Q: What’s your favorite scene? Why?
A: There are so many great scenes. But I would probably say the initial meeting with Zack [Brenda’s son from a previous marriage who is developmentally disabled]at Brenda's parent's home. That scene to me is a microcosm of the story. Seeing a young man's dream and connecting it to my own. Watching a young man capture my heart and break down some walls I had up, while at the same time breaking down some walls for Brenda. This story only happens because of that precious young man and it all began in that moment.

Q: What do you hope viewers take away from the movie?
A: I believe American Underdog will hit people differently depending on where they are in life when they watch it. As long as people are touched by the story, a particular scene, or one of its characters in a unique way, I feel we have done our job with this movie.

Q: You’re a hero to so many. Who’s your real-life hero?
A: My mom who raised my brother and me in a single-parent home—even though my dad was very present throughout my life. She showed me what love and hard work are all about. I learned and took so much from her that has shaped the person and the parent I am today.

Q: You have a strong faith. Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
A: Matthew 6:33.  “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all this will be added unto you.” I feel this is the key to everything. Life is about getting your eyes off what you want and focusing them on what God created you to be and the work he has called you to do. As long as you are living according to that, you won’t worry about ‘stuff’ in the same ways.

Q: What’s one thing you do for your spiritual well-being?
A: I try to be conscious of God all day long in all the different areas of my life. Instead of going to church for an hour or setting aside time each day for prayer, which is all great stuff, for me, it’s more important to make sure I stay aware of God's presence in my life all day long. Even small acknowledgments or brief moments of recognition matter.

Q: Where’s your go-to place to pray or meditate?
A: My go-to prayer spot is usually my bed or my car—two  places—where I can be alone in the quiet and truly focus on what’s most important.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
A: I have gotten a great deal of great advice over the years, but two things stand out. First, never let your circumstances define you. Too often we shape our definition of ourselves by where we find ourselves in life. Or we allow others to define us instead of knowing who we are and defining ourselves by what we know to be true, what we believe we are capable of and who God created us to be. Number two, receive the blessing. This advice truly impacted me because it allowed me to step into true happiness and not feel guilty for having something that I wasn’t sure I deserved. That advice helped me to see life through a different lens and to become content in the different moments of my journey.

American Underdog is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and streaming.


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