'Break Point' Star Jeremy Sisto Says The World Needed A Great Tennis Movie
Over the past several years, Jeremy Sisto has spent a lot of time doing things related to tennis. The actor's latest film, Break Point, is about two brothers' struggle to make it to the big leagues as tennis players, and in addition to starring in the movie, Jeremy Sisto helped write Break Point. The script alone took several years to come to fruition, and throughout that period, Sisto engaged in some Spartan-like tennis training. It was a long, rigorous journey from conception to release, but the end product is a film of which Sisto is quite proud — especially because of the lack of tennis-centric movies currently in the Hollywood line-up.
"There was a space in the index where a great tennis movie should belong," says Sisto, speaking with Bustle.
The actor knew that a movie was needed to fill that gap and had some ideas for how to create one, so he enlisted friend Gene Hong to make Break Point, in theaters now, a reality.
"We would play tennis together just for fun," Sisto says. "So a couple years later I went back to him and I said, 'Hey, do you want to develop that movie?' and he said 'yes.'"
The duo collaborated in creating the story — the characters, tone, narrative arc, etc. — and then Hong wrote the actual manuscript. But the movie was still a long ways off from being made. Over the next four or five years, the film was pitched to different companies and underwent some major revisions. Eventually, they came up with a final product, a quick-witted, humorous script hat Sisto says stays true to the story as he and Hong had originally envisioned, with the added benefits of having been fine-tuned and meticulously revised for years.
"Gene always took the ideas that I had and the other producers and then siphoned it through himself and chose what felt right for his script," Sisto says.
While said revisions were taking place, Sisto attended intense tennis lessons to make up for the fact that he didn't have much on-court experience. "I really had to get a lot of training. I really busted my butt, over a couple of years, more and more intentionally as the shoot grew nearer," the actor says.
But the game was still a challenge, especially since Sisto's on-screen partner David Walton had played extensively on and off since childhood. Sisto says that when the duo first started filming, "[David] could beat me swiftly, because those skills are a lot about body awareness, and that kind of stuff is leaned most effectively when you’re quite young. It's a very frustrating game, and if you're feeling off one particular day and you can’t pinpoint why, it puts you in a very bad mood."
Sisto's real-life frustration with the sport was a perfect reflection of his character's situation, since in the movie, Jimmy struggles to improve his own tennis skills while facing intense pressure. While undoubtedly unpleasant for Sisto, this palpable frustration really helped to raise the stakes in the movie.
"Having worked so hard at trying to get better — and being so scared at having to do that in front of the camera — you could feel it on the screen, that there’s real playing happening," the actor says. "Sometimes you see these things and there’s good form but it doesn’t really [capture] the mental perseverance and intensity that has to go into each of these shots. I'm happy to say that I feel that [Break Point] has expressed that kind of grit."
So now that the filming process is over, will Sisto continue playing? Or is he just too busy, with several movies and an upcoming TV show, Wicked City, in the works? Without skipping a beat, the actor quips, "I’m not too busy, I just hate the sport."
But then, of course, he clarifies: "That was a joke, I don’t hate the sport. But afterwards, I became very frustrated with how difficult the sport was because it was just making me dislike myself and my inability to master it."
He may not be a tennis champion, but Sisto definitely scores some major points for his dedication to this project; as viewers will see, Break Point is the fun, entertaining result of years of blood, sweat, and tears from its motivated cast.
Image: Broad Green Pictures