updated 12/24/2009 AT 9:35 AM ET
•originally published 12/25/2009 AT 5:00 PM ET
It’s the family and football drama that’s managed to score touchdowns at both the box office – where by its third week it shockingly eclipsed New Moon – and in Oscar betting pools, where its star Sandra Bullock is favored to be among the five Best Actress contenders, if not the very victor herself.
But among the elements that make The Blind Side, based on author Michael Lewis’s 2006 best-seller The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, so winning already are the two real-life characters at its center: the outspoken and protective mother Leigh Anne Tuohy (forcefully played by Bullock) and the homeless, high-school student she takes into her wealthy Memphis household, Michael Oher (touchingly portrayed by newcomer Quinton Aaron).
“You know, there never was a decision to take in Michael. Michael was there [in the snowy chill, wearing only a T-shirt and shorts], he had a need, and we were able to fill it,” the real-life Tuohy told the Religion News Service a month ago, when the movie first opened. “Do I think that our faith played a part in that? Absolutely. We looked over and we said, ‘Wow, that young man needs some clothes.’ ”
Tuohy credits a sixth sense that drew her to Michael – causing her to tell her husband Sean (played by Tim McGraw) to pull over to the side of the road, where Michael was walking.
“It was nothing and everything,” she told New York’s Daily News about the 2002 incident that changed her life and Michael’s. “It was just one of those things that you should do.”
‘I Love You, Too’
As for the 6’5”, 300-lb.-plus Michael’s assimilation into the Tuohy family, “It just kind of happened,” the matriarch (and interior decorator) told the News. “All of sudden one day turned into a week and then a week turned into a month and it was like he was supposed to be there.” Eventually, Leigh Anne and Sean legally adopted Michael.
“I kiss all of my kids [daughter Collins and son Sean Jr.] goodnight every night and tell them I love them,” Tuohy told Oprah.com. “Probably a month or so after Michael was in the house, I would just go into his room at night and do the same thing. It had probably been eight or nine months of that, and one night when I did it, he said, ‘I love you, too.’ ”