"Action" was the word at UNT from April 17 to June 1, 1991, when Paramount Pictures filmed Necessary Roughness on campus. It was the second time in a decade a major production was created at North Texas.
Scott Bakula (of the television series Quantum Leap) was the star of the comedy about a 34-year-old quarterback returning to college to lead a team of non-traditional football players on the gridiron.
Robert Loggia, Hector Elizondo, Sinbad, Jason Bateman, Harley Jane Kozak and Kathy Ireland also starred in the film that centered on the fictional Texas State University Armadillos.
Other well-known personalities made cameos. Heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield joined football players Dick Butkus, Earl Campbell, Roger Craig, Ben Davidson, Tony Dorsett, Ed Jones, Jim Kelly, Jerry Rice, Herschel Walker and Randy White as prison football team members brought in for a scrimmage with the Armadillos.
According to the summer 1991 North Texan, UNT officials had hoped students would benefit from the presence of a major movie production on campus, but no one anticipated just how many would become involved in the production.
Two dozen students from the Department of Radio, Television and Film worked as production assistants, and numerous others served as interns, all gaining professional experience in areas such as wardrobe, publicity and location. The majority of the film's extras were students who posed in crowd scenes or in roles such as trainers, reporters and football players.
Nearly 10 years earlier, scenes for the 1982 Canadian film Captured (released as Split Image in the United States) were shot on campus. The movie featured Michael O'Keefe and Karen Allen as youths trapped in a religious cult and starred Peter Fonda as the cult leader and James Woods as a de-programmer. Tatum O'Neal initially was involved with the project and made the trip to Denton.
A day of filming, chronicled by the North Texas Daily, included shots in a Wooten Hall classroom, nine takes of O'Keefe helping to pick up dropped books, a "No Nuke" rally in the University Union courtyard, and a scene with O'Neal on the ravine behind Willis Library, cut short by afternoon shadows.