A Barely Recognizable Judge Reinhold Goes Bald to Play NCAA Great Don Meyer (Exclusive Photo)

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
image

Judge Reinhold as Don Meyer

A bald cap just wasn’t going to cut it. “Those caps don’t work at all,” says Judge Reinhold, who explains he had to make a big decision when he enlisted to play the late record-breaking NCAA coach Don Meyer, who was bald for most of his life. So for the first time in his life, Reinhold, 57, shaved it all off for the sports biopic My Many Sons.

“It’s a drastic change for me,” says Reinhold, best known for the coming-of-age classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High as well as the Beverly Hills Cop and The Santa Clause movies, and who is as good-natured and easygoing in conversation as his lovable screen personas. Before My Many Sons, Reinhold says the closest he had come to being bald was his Army crew cut for 1981’s Stripes.

“The reason I was so quick to do it was because I did resemble him, physically. We’re both 6-foot-2… My ears are a little bigger than his, so I did worry it could be a disaster. But it turned out really well, and it’s one thing I’ve never experienced before.”

image

Reinhold in Fast Times (left), and prior to shaving his head (right)

My Many Sons, directed by Ralph E. Portillo, focuses on the extraordinary life and career of Meyer. In 2009, the Northern State University men’s basketball coach notched his 903rd win, surpassing the NCAA record set by his mentor, legendary Indiana coach Bobby Knight. (Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski would eventually break the mark in 2011.) Meyer, who previously called the shots at Lipscomb University and Hamline University, was coaching in a wheelchair at the time of his feat, having been severely injured in a head-on car collision in 2008. As a result of the crash, not only did Meyer have to have his lower left leg amputated, but during the surgery doctors discovered he had cancer.

After a six-year battle with carcinoid cancer, Meyer died at the age of 69 in May, just a couple months shy of the start of production on his life story.

image

Coach Meyer in 2010

Reinhold never got to meet Meyer. “I missed him by two months, man,” the actor says. “He knew the movie was going to get made and was happy about it. He told the producers to make it a good one.”

Meyer’s family, however, was on the Nashville, Tennessee set to consult. “When I walked on the set the first time, I did resemble him to a pretty strong degree,” Reinhold recalls. “I met his widow [Carmen Meyer] and it was a little… it was fresh. He’d been sick a long time, so at first it was delicate for everybody, including me.” The actor found the specific details and nuances that Meyer’s family told him about invaluable, however, as well as the offerings of Pete Froedden, a Chicago high school basketball coach who played under Meyer and also served as an advisor.

image

Exclusive photo on Reinhold in character

Reinhold clearly has the utmost respect for Meyer. “In 24 years, only one of his players did not graduate. So his program was a combination of academic empowerment and motivation, as well as just being awesome on the court. [The movie] chronicles that process of a very pure guy… I think it should be called The Greatest Coach Nobody Knew.”

In addition to the physical transformation, Reinhold also had to master Meyer’s distinctive gait and coaching style (especially pre-accident), which both reminded the actor of a certain animal: “Don had a walk. He walked with his head first, kind of like a bear.” He adds later, “He kind of stalked the court. Like this bear who looked like he wanted to jump in and play the game. He was very, very intense.”

As for that bald head, Reinhold thought he’d be in-and-out of makeup in 10 minutes. He was wrong. The process took upwards of 90 minutes at times, a good chunk of time on an independent film production. “You could see the follicles on my scalp. So it took her [the makeup artist a long time] to hide the follicles and then make it look kind of shiny.”

The actor’s made the most of his time hairless, even goofily creating some of his own baby photos (which Yahoo Movies is currently working diligently to obtain for your pleasure and ours). And he’s still sporting the bald look today. As he explains laughing, “I can’t let it grow because I’ve got stuff coming up and I can’t look like a Chia Pet.”

My Many Sons is scheduled for release in 2015.

Photos: Katherine Bomboy (2), Cine 54, AP