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John Smith & Marcel Ruiz Interview: Breakthrough

John Smith is the young man for which Breakthrough is based on. He talks about his journey from recovery and his first time meeting producer Devon Franklin. He is currently a basketball coach. Marcel Ruiz is a Puerto Rican actor, known for playing Alex Alvarez in Netflix's One Day at a Time series. He plays John Smith in the film and talks about what relationships he wanted to bring from reality to film.

First of all, amazing job on the film. Congratulations on a hell of a story, man. This is crazy story. So this happened four years ago and that this has to be the quickest turnaround of something happening to them, to going to a novel and then to a film in those four years. Can you talk to me, John, about your experience, how it's been in the last four years?

John Smith: It's a crazy, hey, it really has been, you know this whole process we weren't expecting. Like, honestly we didn't go out searching to get this to be made a film. It was simply, you know, just putting in our lap, you know, the timing and you've seen God's orchestrating it all. It was, it was amazing, you know, from Pastor Samuel Rodriguez taking us to TBN and US meeting Devon and even talked to him for 45 minutes and not having a clue who he was really, you know? I really, I mean, we had no idea. We just thought, we honestly thought he was the green room host. He was so nice to us. He was feeding us. He was making sure we had everything. He wasn't caring for himself, he was making sure we were okay. And when we were telling him the story, we just thought we were being able to like ministry to someone you know, talk to you and tell them the story. And then after the whole conversation, after 45 minutes, he reaches his hand across all three of us and he says, “I'm Devon Franklin and I just produced the movie Miracles from Heaven and I would like to do your film next.” So we're all sitting there going, okay, so it's the book which came out, we had a script like the next year and then that came out. And now we're here sitting, talking about the movie coming out here in the next two weeks or so.

Marcel, after meeting John, what were some of the qualities that you saw in him that you wanted to bring to your performance?

Marcel Ruiz:Well, his relationship with his mom and his parents. The process of how he changed before the accident and after the accident. And of course his relationship with his friends. And to show that love of basketball because I love basketball in real life, so it's been a dream of mine to be able to play it in a movie and how competitive he is is how competitive I am in real life. But the thing that I loved about this story is how you can see how he changes before the accident and after the accident. And this is a full process. And you know, at first that the character of John in the movie, he's kind of lost. He doesn't know if his parents want him and he's getting into fights at school and not doing well. So after the accident it’s beautiful, how he knows that his parents cared for him, they love him, he has a purpose in life and that the whole community came together for him.

A lot of the supporting characters I love as well. Like Tommy and the doctor. We see a lot of cinematic superheroes onscreen nowadays. But what does this film have to say about real life heroes?

John Smith: You know it just proves that they risked their life for people daily. Tommy Shine, we are still very close, the real Tommy Shine and he still comes to me, says “I'm still on call. I still get to witness some of the good and but mostly bad.” So it's just for this film, it's just nothing but respect for them. It puts into light what they do and that even though it can come out in a great way like Breakthrough did. There's also some really hard, hard struggles that though that are the men and women that serve us daily and risk their lives. They go through. And on top of that they have a family.

You have some great ball handling skills? I'm just going to say that right now. And you I know you're coaching as well now. Did have any advice for him for that performance?

John Smith:Well, here's the deal. So Trae Young and Jordan Mccabe's trainer trained to me back in Saint Louis. So I've been trained by some of these NBA trainers and well, I hooked him up with his trainer for Pure Sweat Basketball, and they're a great organization and facility. And you know he’s really talented and I'm curious to see where he's going end up in the next couple of years, maybe college. We'll see.

More: Chrissy Metz Interview for Breakthrough

Key Release Dates
  • Breakthrough (2019) release date: Apr 17, 2019
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