From the Midwest to the Wild West, former Minnesota State football player Ross Jirgl is set to star as Butch Cassidy in the Tubi Original film, “Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch.”
“Being from a small town in Wisconsin, people don’t act, it wasn’t a profession that you could actually do,” said Jirgl. “Being a professional actor was the longest shot possibility and maybe that’s what attracted me to it.”
A native of Wausau, Jirgl grew up playing football from a young age. He attended high school at Wausau East where he led the conference in both interceptions and tackles.
After high school, Jirgil took his football talents to MSU, tallying 82 tackles in 34 games in his collegiate career. He said his time as a Maverick played a big part in shaping him into who he is today.
“It taught me how to prepare with championship-level focus and how to rely on your training to execute under pressure, when the stakes are high,” said Jirgl. “It taught me how to meet adversity with grit, embrace it and overcome it. And it taught me that if you want to do anything great in life, you need to surround yourself with a great team.”
Upon graduation, Jirgl decided it was time to pursue his dream: acting.
“I remember being like 6 or 7 years old, and my parents let me watch ‘Schindler’s List.’ That movie messed me up for weeks,” said Jirgl. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘That’s what I want to do!’ I want to create films so thought provoking that they are able to shift people’s perspectives of themselves, of each other and of the world.”
His second chance at life after a car accident, however, changed his perspective.
“I thought, ‘Don’t be selfish, give back,’ said Jirgl. “So, I pursued the path of the most influential people in my life to that point, and pursued the coaching profession. I became a certified strength and conditioning specialist, which allowed me to work in a college weight room.”
Jirgl’s coaching career brought him all around the country. By 2017, he already had six jobs within three years, all while earning his master’s degree through Indiana State University.
Less than a year later, Jirgl was offered a coaching position at Stanford University for their football team. While he was doing what he liked at Stanford, there was still something missing.
“The romance seemed to fade. I was happy to work with amazing people and make a positive impact on the lives of young men, but it came down to a couple of things. I knew I didn’t want to grow old coaching back-squat, and I didn’t want to grow old having regrets of dreams left unchased,” said Jirgl.
While leaving football behind was a challenge and a big change in identity for Jirgl, he allowed himself to find his true purpose in life.
“When I finally committed to pursuing this goal of being an actor and surrounded myself with a community of teachers and actors that couldn’t do anything else in life but this, I fell in love with the art. It’s the art that drives me today,” said Jirgl.
Although he has only been acting for a short period of time, Jirgl has also starred in a variety of shows and movies. He is most proud of his first film, “Heart of the Manor,” along with his most recent and upcoming film, “Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch,” where he plays Butch Cassidy himself.
It follows the story of the legendary Butch Cassidy and his rowdy group of outlaws, “the Wild Bunch.” While Cassidy’s life has been masked with such a broad history full of myth, Jirgl said they were able to take the story in a completely different direction than anything that has been done before.
“In a way, we are retelling the tale of these outlaws with our own spin on the legend. It’s fast, it’s fun, there’s action, horses and gun fights. It was a thrill of a lifetime to work on and a pleasure to bring this story to life,” said Jirgl.
“Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch” will be available for streaming on Tubi, Thursday, March 16.
To watch the trailer, visit: youtu.be/LxxpK-QgJgc
To stream the film on Tubi, visit: tubitv.com/movies/100000629/butch-cassidy-and-the-wild-bunch
Write to Ali Reed at Alicia.Reed@mnsu.edu
Header photo: Ross Jirgl stars as Butch Cassidy in “Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch.” (Jim Shepka)