Talk About the Passion: Martin Sheen, Luke Wilson spike Texas Football Movie ’12 MIGHTY ORPHANS’ with Lone Star Grit


Preston Barta // Features Editor

The anticipated sports drama telling the story of Fort Worth’s Mighty Mites football team is now playing in theaters for Texas audiences to see. The Ty Roberts-directed 12 Mighty Orphans, released by Sony Pictures Classics, puts a major spotlight on Fort Worth, with a big-name cast that includes Dallas native Luke Wilson, Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall.

Shot in the city, 12 Mighty Orphans tells the true tale of the Mighty Mites, a football team of 12 orphans who went from having never played the sport to reaching the Texas state championship during the Great Depression. Wilson plays legendary coach Harvey Nual “Rusty” Russell, an orphan himself, who — alongside assistant coach Doc Hall (Sheen) — turns his team into top state contenders by developing game-changing strategies.

The story is based on Jim Dent’s 2007 novel Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football. Roberts, who’s from Austin and Midland, co-wrote the film with Lane Garrison and Kevin Meyer.

Fresh Fiction had the opportunity to sit down with screen legends Martin Sheen and Luke Wilson and director Ty Roberts to discuss their new film. In the below video interviews, we talk about being embraced by the Texas community, how the Mighty Mites’ story impacted their lives, and how Sheen reunited with Robert Duvall 42 years after Apocalypse Now.

Our Interview with Martin Sheen:

Our Interview with Luke Wilson & Director Ty Roberts:

12 Mighty Orphans opens nationwide on June 18.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction ( as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.