“Then I realized, ‘I’m in my hometown shooting a movie.’ I really don’t know how to process that,” Hand told Corner High School students on Monday.
Hand, a Corner graduate, is playing Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Fritz Ostermueller in “42,” a movie about Jackie Robinson that began filming in Birmingham this week.
The movie also stars Chadwick Boseman of “The Express” as Robinson and Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey. Speake native Lucas Black has the role of Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese.
Like Black, Hand began acting at an early age.
He appeared in a national commercial for Sunshine Puppy Food when he was 5 years old. He also worked with his mother, Edie Hand, and her co-star Jack Voorhies in a series of spots.
Although Hand said he was too young at that time to have dreams of stardom, he became intrigued with the magic of movies.
“It was always fun, but it was a fairy tale. You don’t come from Alabama and make a career of it,” Hand said.
Hand was involved in athletics as well as the theater program at Corner High School.
During his first year of college, Hand took advantage of an opportunity to move to California. He attended his first acting class two days after arriving in town.
The past decade of Hand’s career has included numerous learning experiences and breaks both big and small. In addition to his work in commercials and theater, he has landed parts in such television shows as “CSI” and “Justified.”
He has also appeared in skits for “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and has been the show’s audience producer for the past several years.
While Hand has starred in feature films before, “42” marks the first time that he is working with a large studio.
Hand said his agents fought hard to get him an audition for a bit part as a ballplayer. He went through several theatrical auditions as well as two baseball tryouts before being cast as Ostermueller.
Ostermueller hit Robinson with a pitch early in his groundbreaking rookie season and was also on the mound in June 1947 when Robinson led his team to a 4-2 victory against the Pirates by stealing home.
After Birmingham, filming for “42” moves to Tennessee and Georgia.
The movie is scheduled to open next April to commemorate the 66th anniversary of Robinson breaking professional baseball’s color barrier.
Hand said being involved with a production about the baseball legend is a dream come true.
During an assembly program held at Corner in his honor on Monday, Hand encouraged the students to pursue their own dreams no matter how far-fetched they seem.
“Whatever it is that you want...when you want it as bad as you want to breathe, you’ll get it. Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t do it because I’m just a goofy kid from down the street,” Hand said.
On Monday, Edie Hand presented Corner Theatre Academy producer and director Mike Putman with the first donation for the Linc Hand Scholarship Fund to help local aspiring actors.
Putman said he was thankful that Hand took the time to visit his alma mater prior to beginning filming this week.
“He is proof to these kids that the sky is the limit,” Putman said.