Talking Steelers Football with Thomas Tull
Hollywood movie producer Thomas Tull, the chairman of Legendary Pictures, has quite the resume of hit films with The Dark Knight, 300, Superman Returns and We Are Marshall all to his credit.
But for a man with box office hits who has worked with the top stars in the movie industry he is a down-to-earth guy who has two passions – movies and Steelers football.
Tull was introduced to the black and gold back in the 1970s when they won their four Super Bowl championships. His love for the team has never faltered, through good or bad, and he doesn't miss a game.
Tull, who attended his first game at Heinz Field when the Steelers hosted the Houston Texans, took time out to talk with Teresa Varley for Talking Steelers Football.
The following is what he had to say.
How did you become a Steelers fan?
I grew up in upstate New York, near Binghamton, which is right near the Pennsylvania border. I was a little kid growing up in the 70s. Jack Lambert, Franco Harris, Terry Bradshaw – it was the Steelers of the 70s. The first game I saw was against the Vikings back in the 70s and I just fell in love then and have loved the team ever since.
Who is your favorite player from back in the 70s?
They were all great but Jack Lambert and Terry Bradshaw would be my two favorites from that era.
How closely do you follow the Steelers now?
If you ask any one who knows me or works with me they would tell you very closely. I have not missed a snap since 1994 when DirecTV came out. My guys know to schedule things around the games and I am very serious about it.
So you have never had a conflict with a movie shoot and a game at the same time?
We really try to avoid that when possible. It's something I am passionate about and love it. What the team stands for in terms of the way they play the game and have always played the game. I think the Rooney family is the classiest family in professional sports. I watch the way this team carries itself and it's fantastic.
What are some of your favorite Steelers memories?
When I was a little kid I certainly remember all of the great Super Bowl moments. I remember John Stallworth's catch against the Rams to put that away. I remember the last Super Bowl against the Seahawks and that unbelievable three-game road trip in the playoffs. There was that moment against the Colts and having my heart in my throat when Jerome (Bettis) got hit at the goal line. There are so many moments. One of the things that truly makes me happy is watching the games.
What was it like for you to premiere We Are Marshall in Pittsburgh with Steelers players and staff attending?
It was amazing. Kate Mara, who is NFL royalty, has one side of the family being the Mara's from the Giants and the Rooney family on the other side. The Steelers wanted to see the movie. Normally I would have sent one of my guys to do that. But being that it was the Steelers I came out myself, showed the team the movie and spent the day there. I got to sit at "The Chief's" desk, see the five Super Bowl Trophies, and spend some time with Mr. Rooney and a bunch of the players. It was the greatest day ever.
You made a visit to training camp this year. How enjoyable was that?
That was a very special day I will never forget. To walk around training camp with Mr. Rooney was like visiting the Vatican with The Pope. There were 25,000 fans watching practice. It was unbelievable. I got to see some of the guys I am friendly with, Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger. It was a very special day.
Is there a current Steelers player whose game you really respect?**
There are a number of them. Hines Ward personifies Steelers football. He is tough, hard-hitting and plays the game the right way. I really love Hines. Ryan Clark I think is great. James Harrison is also amazing. Ben Roethlisberger's name has to be right at the top of the NFL quarterbacks right now. We also have some young guys coming up who are really impressive. Guys like Santonio Holmes and Lawrence Timmons, who has looked spectacular.
What has Mike Tomlin brought to this team?
An attitude of excellence. The one thing when you meet Coach Tomlin you realize right away there is something different about him. There is something special. He has a commanding presence. He wants to make sure things are done the right way. It's difficult to believe there have only been three coaches since 1969 and he is the third. I think he takes that legacy very seriously. I was very impressed with him.
You are used to being around some of the top stars in Hollywood. How does that compare to being around the Steelers?
There is no comparison. I am one of the luckiest people you will ever meet. I love what I do. The two things I love the most are movies and Steelers football. The fact that I can be around both is amazing. For me, especially the guys from the 70s, that is like Mount Olympus. It's just such a blessing to be able to come out here and watch the game and talk to Mr. Rooney and some of the players.
Is this the first game you have seen in Pittsburgh?
I have not missed a snap on television, but probably to not embarrass myself with as intense as I get during the games, this is the first game I have been to at Heinz Field. I have been to a number of preseason games because I am a little calmer during those. I have been here before to Heinz Field, but this is my first game.
You produced The Dark Knight which is part of the Batman series. Which current Steelers player do you think would be good for the role of Batman?I have to say Ryan Clark has that Denzel Washington thing going on and likes to remind me of it and how good looking he is so we would have to look for something for Ryan first.
Who would make a good nemesis for Batman?
I think James Harrison who is just about the baddest man on the planet would be present a pretty formidable foe for anybody.