Ray McElrathbey, real man behind Disney Plus' 'Safety' waited 14 years to see story on screen

ByMarsha Jordan WLS logo
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Real man behind 'Safety' movie awed to see story on screen
The real Ray McElrathebey has waited fourteen years to see his story come alive as a new Disney movie. 'Safety' is streaming on Disney+.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- "Safety," now streaming on Disney+, is based on the true story of a young athlete who puts his love for his little brother ahead of his own ambitions.

Based on the life of Ray McElrathbey, in the film Ray Ray is a talented football player who takes on the responsibility of caring for his young brother after his mother's addiction leaves him abandoned.

McElrathbey waited 14 years for the movie.

"I was more excited than the actors who were on the billboard, because it's...surreal is the word I keep coming to because I wasn't ready. I'm still not ready," he said.

The movie isn't filled with big stars, but director Reginald Hudlin said that helps the film, not hinders.

"It does help the film because we were able to focus on getting the best people for the job and we got amazing young actors. There's a great new generation of actors ready to explode," Hudlin said. "And then on to, you also have extraordinary athletic ability, and with Jay Reeves, who plays Ray in the film, we were fortunate to get an actor who had both. He came in, he read, we believed him, he touched him, and then we took him out on the field and he killed it."

"The studio allowed us to make discoveries on this and they didn't say, 'Oh you have to get a big actor in any role,'" said producer Mark Ciardi. "We knew the movie would be the star, so that's pretty freeing."

"It came together wonderful as far as I'm concerned," McElrathbey said. "I wouldn't change much. I just want a miniseries, but we're not gonna talk about that."