COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - An actor who grew up in the Springs came home to celebrate his feature film debut in "42," the Jackie Robinson story.
Jesse Luken, a Palmer High School graduate, plays Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman Eddie Stanky. He joined about 30 friends and family members at Tinseltown Saturday to watch the film in it's opening weekend.
"They all wanted to have a big party and come down and make a big deal out of it, which was really, really sweet," Luken said.
He said playing baseball in the Springs growing up, including at Palmer, contributed to his scoring the role in the movie, which tells the story of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier to be the first African-American to play Major League Baseball.
"They did want actors with baseball experience," said Luken. "We had three auditions and then we had a baseball skills test. And I think it was just to make sure we weren't completely clueless and, you know, throwing the baseball over the backstop."
Luken said he started acting after graduating from Colorado State University. He's starred in television shows like Glee, Justified, NCIS and The Mentalist, but this is his first major movie role.
"I'm going to try not to cry," said Luken's mom, Cynthia Striley as she hugged him. "I'm very delighted. He worked really hard and he's always been a wonderful son."
Luken said it felt "incredible" to be back at his hometown theater, and it was clear life in Hollywood hasn't changed where his heart is.
"I love Colorado Springs," Luken said. "Colorado Springs is and forever will be my home."