Director Jeff Celentano Describes His ‘Obsession and Possession’ Creating ‘The Hill’

The Hill has been years in the making, but to Jeff Celentano, this story was worth the wait. 

When he’s not teaching acting to children or surfing at Laguna Beach, this director/producer is creating The Hill, the true story of Rickey Hill, who overcame his physical disability to play professional baseball.

Only months away from filming in Georgia, Showbiz Cheat Sheet caught up with Celentano to discuss what makes this movie (and its real-life inspiration) so special. 

Poster for the upcoming true story, 'The Hill' featuring Dennis Quaid, directed by Jeff Celentano
Poster for the upcoming true story, ‘The Hill’ featuring Dennis Quaid, directed by Jeff Celentano | Jeff Osborne via Michael Misetic

Dennis Quaid stars in the upcoming film ‘The Hill’

Dreams don’t always come true. They, however, did for Rickey Hill, who went from hitting rocks to playing professional baseball. After a chance encounter with the director’s brother in a hotel lobby, his story is coming to the silver screen with the upcoming film titled The Hill.

Known for his roles in The Parent Trap, A Dog’s Purpose, and The Day After Tomorrow, Dennis Quaid stars in this production as the loving/caring/powerful father figure, Pastor Hill. According to the director and producer of the film, Celentano, after reading the script, Quaid asked, “Is this real? Did this guy really do this?” 

“I couldn’t be more excited about this project,” Quaid said in a statement. “This film will no doubt further validate the power of American social mobility and show that in America you can choose to be what you want.”

According to a press release, the rest of the cast has not yet been announced. 

Jeff Celentano, director of 'The Hill'
Jeff Celentano, director of ‘The Hill’ | Joanny Castro via Michael Misetic

Why ‘The Hill’ is more than just a ‘sports movie,’ according to director Jeff Celentano

Although it seems like a fantasy, the journey of Rickey Hill is a true story about faith, family, and perseverance. With a deeply religious upbringing, Rickey Hill was expected to become a pastor. Everything changed, however, when the athlete began hitting home runs.

The Hill tells the story of a fantastic baseball player with a passion for the sport. However, this upcoming release isn’t exactly a “sports” movie. 

“I didn’t want to make a ‘sports’ movie; I wanted to make a movie about a little boy trying to find the love of his father,” Celentano said. “That is to me, what the whole movie is about.“

Production for ‘The Hill’ begins in November 2021

Rick Montgomery of the Academy Award-winning Best Picture Green Book acts as the casting director for The Hill. Angelo Pizzo (Rudy and Hosiers) will write the screenplay. With movies like The Blind Side serving as inspiration, Celentano appears as the director and producer for The Hill.

“Bethany Hamilton lost her arm to a shark, and the whole world knew about that story,” Celentano said. “When [Soul Surfer] was made, everybody went to see it because they knew this story. They don’t know Rickey’s story… this story needs to be told.”

More information regarding The Hill, including its release date, will presumably be announced in the coming months. 

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