Released in 2001, the sports comedy-drama Hardball cast wasn’t received particularly well by critics. Robert Koehler of Variety wrote that “there’s no cork inside Hardball, but there’s more than enough corn,” while Moira Macdonald of the Seattle Times claimed the Brian Robbins-directed film is “just dreadful.” Keanu Reeves’ starring turn as slob-turned-role-model Conor O’Neill even earned him a Razzie Award nomination for worst actor. The film did resonate fairly well with audiences, however, scoring a decent 70 percent among viewers on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
Revisiting Hardball years later, it’s possible to make the argument that it’s actually aged quite well, thanks to the film’s cast of smart-mouthed Chicago middle-schoolers contrasted against Keanu’s, well, Keanu-ness. But what happened to those kids, anyway? Aside from Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan, you probably haven’t seen any of these championship ballers since. Let’s find out what the Kekambas and crew have been up to since taking home the hardware, and take a look at what the cast of Hardball looks like now.
Playing Conor O’Neill, a washed up nobody who smokes too many cigarettes and has a serious gambling addiction, Keanu Reeves is the undisputed star of Hardball. In the span of 106 minutes, we watch Reeves evolve from a broke loser who can’t even find a pair of correctly-sized slacks to a clean-cut hero who permanently alters the lives of ten inner-city children. It’s heartwarming, really.
After taking his kids to the championship (and a Cubbies game), Reeves reprised his more recognizable role as Neo in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, and notably went on to star in Something’s Gotta Give, Constantine, The Lake House, A Scanner Darkly, John Wick, and John Wick: Chapter 2 — just to name a few
Today, Reeves remains as famously low-key, well-dressed, and stealthily charitable as ever, while fans of the gun-fu genre will be delighted to learn that he’ll star in John Wick: Chapter 3. The third installment in the Chad Stahelski-directed movie series started filming on April 26, 2018.
Before playing the strict and no-nonsense middle-school teacher Elizabeth Wilkes in Hardball, Diane Lane had already established herself as a leading figure in Hollywood, thanks to her roles in George Roy Hill’s 1979 film A Little Romance, The Outsiders, and A Walk on the Moon.
After hooking up O’Neill with both a job and some romance, Lane continued to star and play supporting roles in a slew of films, including The Perfect Storm, Under the Tuscan Sun, Cinema Verite, and Trumbo. Fans of the superhero genre will also recognize Wilkes from her role as Martha Kent in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Justice League.
It’s obvious that, since Hardball’s release in 2001, Lane hasn’t aged a day. She’ll next be seen starring alongside Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, and Jeremy Strong in Steven Knight’s American noir thriller Serenity.
Don’t be fooled by his unimpressive supporting role as the sketchy ticket-hawking gambler Ticky Tobin in Hardball — John Hawkes is arguably the film’s most accomplished actor, albeit not its most famous.
Hawkes is easily recognized from his role as the merchant Sol Star in the HBO hit Western series Deadwood, but his most noteworthy performance is arguably that of meth addict Teardrop Dolly in Winter’s Bone, which earned him an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Hawkes also played Mark O’Brien, a poet paralyzed from polio who hired a sex surrogate to take his virginity, in the 2012 independent film The Sessions. Both performances earned the actor a slew of award nominations, and some wins to boot.
Hawkes also went on to play Kenny Powers’ brother Dustin on HBO’s baseball comedy Eastbound & Down and is slated to star in 2018’s TV series Too Old to Die Young. But let’s be honest — everyone’s just waiting for that Deadwood revival.