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You could call it “The Curse of The Line”: that moment when an actor, especially a child actor, is followed around by an iconic moment or catchphrase through most of their career. It’s something that could drive an actor insane, and The Sandlot’s Patrick Renna wouldn’t be blamed for being tired of hearing people say to him, “You’re killing me, Smalls!” And yet, after speaking with the man himself, I learned that not only has it not worn thin with him, it’s his own personal badge of honor!
While Patrick Renna’s personal branding embraces that special moment we love from that childhood sports classic The Sandlot, to the point where his YouTube channel/show is named You’re Killing Me with Patrick Renna, it wasn’t a given that he’d be okay with that scene after all this time. So I asked Renna if he’d always had a good relationship with the legacy of his character Hamilton “The Great Hambino” Porter, and he graciously responded with this:
You know, I don’t think there was ever a point where it drove me crazy. If you say anything to me before my coffee, pretty much anything will drive me crazy. But other than that, the cool thing about it is when people say it, it just means I did my job as an actor, and there’s something so lasting that has been part of so many people’s lives that you can’t help but be honored and flattered by it. I think to look at it any other way just isn’t looking at the glass half full.
Ever since its first utterance in 1993’s The Sandlot, Hamilton Porter’s “You’re killing me, Smalls” moment has been quoted, marketed and basically put through any wringer you can think of. As the film was a high rotation favorite on HBO back in the day, you’d have ample opportunity to catch the moment shown below for yourself at any given moment:
When your face is on a t-shirt with a specific quote of dialogue almost 30 years after the fact, it’s safe to say that you’ve left a mark on the pop culture lexicon. Which only means there’s more of an opportunity to get tired of everyone who recognizes you playing that same old tune.
In a strangely fitting way, the entire experience ties into his new show/YouTube channel, You’re Killing Me Smalls with Patrick Renna, as he created this venue as an outlet to learn more about the obsessions and passions of his friend’s childhoods. Admitting that his film career in movies like The Sandlot and The Big Green didn’t leave much time for him to be exposed to things like Empire Records or Nirvana, Patrick Renna created “The You’re Killing Me Challenge” in order to experience these things, and report back with his feedback.
Even with that understanding, Patrick Renna knows that The Sandlot is one of those nostalgic hits that’s handed down through the generations, and with that passage comes the possibility that “You’re killing me, Smalls” becomes a part of the household language of friends and family build together. And to him, that’s just the signal of a job well done; one that undoubtedly will help if The Sandlot’s TV series sequel gets off the ground over at Disney+.
Check out Patrick Renna’s official channel, You’re Killing Me Smalls with Patrick Renna, over on YouTube. If you’re a fan of The Sandlot, not only can you rent or purchase the film on the usual formats, but Renna will soon be kicking off “Secrets of The Sandlot,” with interviews between him and his fellow cast mates.