Now that snow on the ground is sticking and it’s cold enough to warrant digging your winter coat out of the closet, it is the perfect time to stay in and watch some movies.
While Illinois State is notable in many ways, you may not know that many of our alums are permanent fixtures on the silver screen. Know you are in good company when you step on our campus. Here are nine of the most binge-worthy movies featuring Redbirds!
1. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Nationally renowned NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby is at the top of his game. However, when a new, talented French driver starts to challenge Bobby for his spot at the top, Bobby has to stretch his talent and determination to maintain his throne. This hilarious movie was wildly successful, winning numerous awards and grossing over $100 million. A little known fact about Ricky Bobby is that he is actually an Illinois State legacy. His mom, played by Jane Lynch ‘82, and his dad, played by Gary Cole, both attended Illinois State before finding their way to Hollywood.
2. Wonder Woman
“Wonder Woman” took the nation by storm when it was released in 2017. This revolutionary movie, based off of the DC Comics character, tells the tried-and-true tale of how Wonder Woman found confidence in her powers and discovered her purpose. While you won’t see any Illinois State alums on screen, the compositing supervisor for this movie, Brian Connor ‘93, played an essential role in its creation. Connor was tasked with leading the creation of special effects, graphics, and animation on this movie. Given the critical acclaim and worldwide success “Wonder Woman” achieved, it is clear that Connor was incredibly successful.
3. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
When you think of Illinois State, you probably do not think of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but that should change. The third installment in the Terminator franchise, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” is chock full of Redbirds. Brian Connor worked on special effects for this movie in addition to “Wonder Woman.” On screen, you can see Moira Sinise ‘76 as Betsy and William O’Leary ‘80 as Mr. Smith. Who would’ve thought that so many Redbirds could’ve been involved in the making of a Terminator movie?
4. The Three Stooges
Known for its wacky, slapstick comedy, “The Three Stooges” is a perfect example of lighthearted fun. In this movie, it’s not hard to spot a Redbird. Sean Hayes plays one of the stooges, Larry, and Jane Lynch ‘82 plays the nun running the orphanage where the stooges grew up. “The Three Stooges” is not only hilarious, but also extremely successful, generating over $50 million in the box office. Keep an eye out for any crazy behavior next time you are on campus—you might even find one of the stooges!
5. Being John Malkovich
Wouldn’t you love to be in the mind of a celebrity for a day? Unemployed puppeteer Craig Schwartz got to live this dream after finding a portal that leads straight to the mind of famous actor John Malkovich. Though not aired in the movie, I’m sure Schwartz was inundated with thoughts of Reggie Redbird the second he entered Malkovich’s mind, since John Malkovich studied in Illinois State’s theater program!
6. Lady Bird
This coming-of-age story follows Christine McPherson, known as Lady Bird, as she navigates her teenage years. Marion McPherson, played by Redbird alumna Laurie Metcalf ‘76, is Christine’s mother who is often at odds with the titular character. This acclaimed movie made tens of millions in the box office and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Metcalf herself for Best Supporting Actress!
7. The Hunger Games
This saga is one of the most well known of our time. Among the most defining traits of these movies is the incredible makeup worn by the people in the capital. One of the creators of these innovative looks was Brad Look ‘83, an Illinois State alumnus. In addition to his work in Hunger Games, Look has been nominated for multiple Emmys and won one for his work on Star Trek: Voyager.
8. The Office
OK, you may be thinking that “The Office” isn’t a movie, and you’d be right. However, it is one of the most bingeable shows in the history of television. It may seem unlikely that you would find a Redbird working at Dunder Mifflin, but you don’t have to look past the warehouse. Redbird Craig Robinson ‘94 plays Darryl Philbin, the loveable foreman of the warehouse. Though he may seem like a no-nonsense type of guy, Darryl has a mischievous streak rivaled only by Jim. This is just one of the many examples of Redbirds playing characters in your favorite television shows!
9. Wreck-it Ralph
After being seen as the bad guy for his whole life, Wreck-It Ralph is tired of being the villain. He sets out to win a hero’s medal, which he believes will win him the respect of his peers. To get this medal, he ventures into a game called “Hero’s Duty” where Redbird Jane Lynch ‘82 voices that game’s heroin, Sergeant Calhoun. This movie was both a critical and commercial success, receiving an Oscar nomination and over $400 million in revenue.
As you can see, Redbirds wind up everywhere in the entertainment industry. Whether it is makeup, animation, or actually being on the silver screen, there are talented, successful Redbirds in every field. Next time you go to the movies, who knows? You may be watching a Redbird!