Facts About the Movie "Rudy"

by Nathaniel Williams
In the film, the Notre Dame fans chanted for Rudy.

In the film, the Notre Dame fans chanted for Rudy.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

1993's "Rudy" opened modestly at the box office, but it has since grown into a beloved sports classic. The film's titular character is based on the real-life story of Rudy Ruettiger, a walk-on for the Notre Dame football team. The filmmakers significantly altered Rudy's story in this adaptation, but they managed to successfully capture the inspirational tale of a player who is short on physical talent but big on heart.


"Rudy" tells the unlikely story of a working-class Illinois kid who dreams of playing for Notre Dame, even though he lacks height, speed and size. He graduates from high school without the necessary athletic achievements or grades to get into any college, much less Notre Dame. After he loses his best friend in an accident, Rudy resolves to follow his dream at any cost. He enrolls in a junior college and earns a transfer to Notre Dame. Rudy's determination helps him make the football team, but he only participates in practices. In the season's final game, the team and the fans rally to support him, and Rudy gets onto the field for a few plays.

Film Production

Writer Angelo Pizzo and director David Anspaugh are native Indianians who hit it big with the 1986 basketball film "Hoosiers." Both were interested in motivational sports stories and became interested in adapting Ruettiger's story, which was not widely known outside of Notre Dame. The film was considered something of a gamble and the studio did not commit a large budget to it.

Plot Differences

The biggest difference between the real story and the movie is the portrayal of coach Dan Devine as a villain in the film. He actually played a relatively supportive role in Rudy's experience. A scene where the team's players threaten to not suit up if Rudy isn't added to the roster is entirely fictional, as is the in-game insistence that Rudy be allowed on the field. The film also depicts Rudy as working in the steel industry after high school, but he actually joined the Navy.

Reception and Box Office

"Rudy" received generally good reviews. Some reviewers praised it as a moving addition to the sports movie genre, while others found it overly formulaic. As of June 2011, it boasts an 81 percent score among the critics on the Rotten Tomatoes website. The budget for the film was reported to be around $12 million, and it earned a little over $22 million at the box office. It has earned much more in home video and TV revenue since its release.

Photo Credits

  • Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images