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Video:James Cromwell, Margo Martindale, Eric Lange on Secretariat

with Rebecca Murray

James Cromwell, Margo Martindale, and Eric Lange discussed their roles in 'Secretariat' on the red carpet at the world premiere of the Walt Disney Pictures' film, which tells the inspirational true story of the greatest racehorse in history.See Transcript

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Transcript:James Cromwell, Margo Martindale, Eric Lange on Secretariat

Rebecca Murray from About.com Hollywood Movies at the World Premiere of Walt Disney Pictures' Secretariat.

James Cromwell - 'Ogden Phipps' in Secretariat

Why does a story that took place in 1973 still resonant with audiences now?

James Cromwell: "Well, nothing really changes. It's still an athlete, an incredible athlete, overcoming the doubts of people. These stories, the reason they resonant is they've always been the same - Phar Lap, Seabiscuit, Big Red... God, how many are there? The Black Stallion. The Black Stallion's a little different. But I think the real key to this story of course is Penny. I mean the horse is extraordinary, once in a lifetime, but what Penny did is what any woman - not any woman - but what women can accomplish. And that's really important."

Margo Martindale - 'Miss Ham' in Secretariat

She is a strong woman that you play. Is that nice?

Margo Martindale: "She is. Very nice. The real Penny Chenery was talking to me this morning, she said, 'You're a lot warmer than Elizabeth Ham really was.' I said, 'That's about as unwarm as I can get.'"

Everybody knows Secretariat, but nobody really knows this background story. Were you familiar with it at all?

Margo Martindale: "No. Of course I knew there was a female owner. I saw her in all the [photos] because '73 I was around. '63 I was around, '53 I was around. Anyway..."

But Penny was a woman in a man's sport.

Margo Martindale: "A man's sport - a real man's sport, as much of a man's sport I would say as boxing or anything like that is. Or maybe even more, you know? That's really exciting, and more exciting than I ever thought about when I was reading it, actually. You know, you take as much in and then you go, 'Oh, wait, that is a really good story, a really great story.'"

Eric Lange - 'Andy Beyer' in Secretariat

You play a reporter in the film and now you have to do all the press.

Eric Lange: "Exactly."

You've got a lot of practice, right?

Eric Lange: "Yeah. Well, he was more of a sports writer than a reporter but yeah, a brilliant guy. He came up with something called the Beyer Figure which is, if you don't know, is a way of quantifying horses one better than another. So before the Kentucky Derby for instance you'll see, 'And the Beyer figures for these horses are...' It's a way of adding in the gambling of the horse racing. But he's a brilliant guy and I've had dinner with him now. A really nice man, and I'm very nervous to see what he thinks of the movie - tonight he's coming. But it was neat experience to learn more about him."

Did you know anything about Secretariat's story at all, aside from the fact that he was a great horse?

Eric Lange: "I knew it was the greatest horse of all time, but the races all took place in '73 and I was just being born. But, no. It's an incredible story and it's one that you almost think seems like it was made up, like Disney would make up a story like that to make a movie. But it's true and it's so inspiring, and I really think the world could use a little bit of that right now. I'm happy to be a part of it."

You had to be around the horses but didn't have to be involved with them, but what was that set like?

Eric Lange: "Well, whenever the horse was around - or horses - there's high respect paid. You stay out of their way. We had one scene with Diane and I and Kevin Connelly just walking the horse, and all of a sudden the head goes [jerks to the side]. And I think I was told they kept it in because Secretariat was sort of a feisty little animal. Little animal? Big animal. But one little jerk and you realize those reins really are just there for decoration. It ain't going to be easy if he really wants to go run somewhere."

Why should people see this film? What is it Secretariat that still catches people's imaginations?

Eric Lange: "I just think the wonderment that every now and then something comes along like that, someone comes along, something comes along that's just bigger than we've ever seen before that's extraordinary in some way and still real and true, and still possible. I think the idea of possibility and being inspired in that, and along with his attitude and his feistiness and all that, that animal had a huge heart. It's heart was twice as big as normal hearts. And I think that's another great lesson. You work hard at something, you run for something and you might get there. It's a good lesson."

More on Secretariat:

  • Exclusive Interview with Director Randall Wallace
  • Secretariat Photo Gallery
  • Secretariat Trailer, Clips, Posters, Interviews, and Cast List

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