Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

ADHD and The Color of Money – Tom Cruise and Paul Newman


“You gotta have two things to win. You gotta have brains and you gotta have balls. Now, you got too much of one and not enough of the other.”

Paul Newman spoken as Fast Eddie

One of the most appealing things about the movie “The Color of Money” is that the story is familiar to a great deal of people. You don’t have to have ADHD to have lived through identity crises or not be appreciated for your talents and you don’t have to have ADHD to be lost or unaware of certain things. The world has changed a lot in the last hundred years and people from all walks of life must put aside their inner desires to make their way through designed systems. Most people do fine with the designed systems in place and that’s why those systems will not change much, and those systems are not bad or wrong, but there are some who live mediocre lives due to these systems and with the right incentives, and mentorships, they can break free and become what they were meant to become in the first place. It is rare nowadays, but it happens from time to time. A hundred or so years ago, this wasn’t so rare due to apprenticeships and mentorships systems which had been in place for thousands of years. For the most part we’ve lost those, but sometimes a lucky few find their way half-hazardly into a sort of mentorship, sort of like what happened for Vince in “The Color of Money”.


“You walk into a pool room with that go-go-go, the guys’ll be *killing* each other, trying to get to you. You got that… But I’ll tell you something, kiddo. You couldn’t find Big Time if you had a road map.”

Paul Newman spoken as Fast Eddie

Before I talk about “The Color of Money” I want to talk about Paul Newman’s character Fast Eddie, which was first explored in the movie “The Hustler”. Fast Eddie was exactly as his name dictated: fast. He was impulsive and wanted to prove he was the best right away. Taking the longer, more profitable and ultimately, or seemingly, rewarding road wasn’t in his character. He was a loner with a partner that didn’t know any better and wasn’t really a mentor. Fast Eddie was a prodigy, with a gift for playing pool that he did not understand. The only way fast Eddie could calm himself, and slow himself down, was with liquor and as we all know, that’s not a very good solution. Being fast and impulsive, Fast Eddie did not take the time to understand the game he loved so much – just knowing how to make balls is not enough; one must understand who he or she is and understand the people who they will be dealing with. Not understanding the human factors, fast Eddie was extremely naïve and therefore reckless. Even if he could beat Minnesota fats it would be a mistake that would destroy the world of pool for him, leaving him exiled from it.

In “The Color of Money” Paul Newman once again takes on the role of Fast Eddie, but this time he is a much older and ‘wiser’ person. He now knows the answers that would have helped him long ago, but through-out the movie he makes many of the mistakes and blunders that he made long ago, in the first movie “The Hustler”. Fast Eddie gets both hustled and sharked at the very same time by a character marvelously played by Forest Whitaker. Watching Forest Whitaker’s performance is worth the price of this movie alone, if you have an understanding of sharking and hustling you will marvel at how well Forest pulls the act off. When someone has ADHD it takes a situation as what Forest does to Paul Newman to really get into the mind and wake it up. This demonstrates that even a hustler can be hustled.

“That’s not what I said, kid. I said you *are* a natural character; you’re an incredible flake.”

Paul Newman spoken as Fast Eddie

Okay, let’s get back to Vince and who he is. Like Fast Eddie once was, Vince is a prodigy, but he has a problem to which Fast Eddie can relate very well to. Vince is impulsive and has no clue about the gift he possesses. Fast Eddie sees an opportunity with Vince and jumps at the chance to give him the mentorship he didn’t have and, of course, make some money with him. The problem though, is that Vince is extremely naïve and very stubborn. In my opinion Vince isn’t truly stubborn, he simply does not know how to control his impulsivity and is oblivious to the fact he could be so much more. As a matter of fact Fast Eddie offers Vince the deal of Vince’s lifetime where Vince works in an average job with no obvious aspirations for more. Vince is basically a grown up child who is lost in his thoughts about computer games and shooting pool. Fast Eddie describes working with Vince as “Child Care”.

In order to convince Vince into going on the road Fast Eddie must manipulate him in order to do so. Being that Vince is naïve and knows nothing about how the world revolves, he is rather easy to manipulate. This doesn’t surprise me, many of us with ADHD are always lost in our thoughts and distracted that we don’t pay enough attention to the details. We tend to call ourselves ‘late bloomers’.

“Pool excellence is *not* about excellent pool.”

Paul Newman spoken as Fast Eddie

Fast Eddie was exactly what Vince needed. Although we can frown on the fact that Fast Eddie had to manipulate Vince, it was what Vince needed to finally start seeing the ‘truth’ and what he was really capable of. One of the first stops on the road was for Vince to play a man with an obvious physical handicap. Vince was so distracted by the person’s handicap that he could not play ‘his’ game and lost. Fast Eddie allowed for Vince to get his butt kicked for not paying up in order to teach Vince a lesson he would not forget. There is something about telling someone with ADHD to do this or that, it usually doesn’t stick, they must first experience it in order to learn from it, and even then the lesson probably will not be fully learned the first time. Time and time again through-out the movie Vince must be pulled in from making impulsive decisions and disastrous mistakes.

The movie “The Color of Money” is not so much about a gifted pool player, as it is about what someone is capable of if apprenticed and mentored and how they would remain without such lessons. By the end of the movie Vince becomes something of a ‘pro’ himself, but if he had not met Fast Eddie and learned from him he would still be working in his average job and not on the way to greatness. And that is what happens to a lot of people in today’s world, they could be doing so much more, achieving great things if they had the proper mentorship and were apprenticed and not simply left to rules and standards they may not understand until it is too late.

Actually, Vince was very lucky that Fast Eddie not only noticed him, but also took him under his wing to train him. Not too many people have the time or tenacity to really take an appreciation for someone else anymore. As a matter of fact, if Fast Eddie had not once been in the same boat as Vince, he probably would have passed him over without a thought. Vince reminded Fast Eddie of himself and luckily Fast Eddie had the time on his hands to explore Vince’s abilities. How often does that happen in today’s world? Not very often.

“Human moves, kid. You study the watch… while I study you.”

Paul Newman spoken as Fast Eddie

The only thing lacking from this movie was the mental struggles Vince was obviously going through. He was making mistake after mistake and simply could not grasp the ‘big’ picture. He had a transformation and the movie implies it, but never explores it. Tom Cruise used to play roles that touched people, and he acted well the come from behind, misunderstood and confused shouldn’t-be-a-loser type. Other Movies Tom played in that demonstrates symptoms of ADHD is “Days of Thunder” and “Top Gun”. I guess things have changed for Tom and his search for an Oscar has taken him away from the roles he excels at… too bad… next article I will talk about “Days of Thunder” and what I noticed about Tom’s character, Cole – and guess what helps him again… another mentor!  

I relate very well to both Fast Eddie and Vince. I was once a lot like Vince, bursting with talent and potential and I refused to be instructed, so I learned through the very long road of trial and error. In my book I explain how that changed for me and how and why accepting mentorship changed my whole world.


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