Conor O'Neill

Hardball (2001)

Provider of Pizza

Occupation:Scalper, gambler, kid's baseball coach
Distinguishing Feature:A really cool leather jacket
What He Taught Us:The most important thing in life is showing up.

Keanu Reeves

I took the part because I just enjoy the journey that Conor takes. This guy was so far down, as a gambler, a scalper and a hustler. I liked Conor because for all his hustling and scalping he has respect and a good heart. There was this inherent goodness to the character, even if he may not like himself all that much. He has a lot of self-loathing ... but he can be redeemed.

I liked Conor because he is transformed and that scene in the church where you see and hear his realization, and how he developed a greater appreciation for life and became a better person for it, that excited me as an actor. He's kind of trapped, and I think that's one of the reasons why, if you do respond to the piece, you might root for him. He's a guy who is so damaged, so full of self-loathing, and he finds something inside of himself where he thought he had nothing.

He wasn't a bad man. You honestly like my character Conor despite all of his failings. He gambles. He scalps tickets outside the United Center. But the minute he's forced to get on that field and be with those kids, he likes them. He respects the kids. And he doesn't talk down to them. All of a sudden, you see a man with a good heart. And I like anyone who treats kids with that sort on inherent goodness. His humanity made him beautiful.

It's a great part. I had one of my best acting experiences playing that guy.

Anakin McFly

Conor's a twitchy guy, just trying to deal with life, hardened by circumstances and forced into situations he'd rather not be in, only to find himself incapable of getting out of them. He's always on edge, perhaps because he can't afford the luxury to be otherwise. He doesn't have the freedom to relax. He has too many problems of his own - addictions to gambling, smoking, drinking, all these ensnaring him, and the only thing he knows how to do is to go along with them for the time being because that's the only way he has to escape from his problems, even though he knows at the back of his mind that they're only making things worse and one day he'll have to pay the price.

Somewhere in him there's a good person. But that's since been buried under layers of cynicism and too many disappointments in life. He's been hurt once too often. It's made him defensive, untrusting, and filled with a repressed anger that all too often ends up being directed at himself, the only one he knows how to blame without consequence. Beaten up by the world and by his own hand, Conor's just trying to survive, nothing more, and maybe have things get better somewhere along the way... even though he's more or less resigned himself to how it never will, flickers of hope flaming up temporarily with each new bet, hoping that the next one will be his way out and into a better life, only to die again and find him sunken even further in the hole he finds it increasingly hard to get out of. Yet there's something in him that refuses to give up, stubbornly and determinedly persistent in continuing the fight, on and on even if it kills him.