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Shooting Stars Director, Cast Talk Making the Film's Basketball Look Authentic
When it came to telling LeBron James' life story in Shooting Stars, director Chris Robinson looked for athletes, not actors.
Before making the upcoming Peacock original movie Shooting Stars, director Chris Robinson knew he had to get one thing right to accurately tell LeBron James’ life story: the basketball.
During a recent interview, the director explained he knew going into making this movie that there would be very picky eyes on it given how important James’ career is to so many fans of the sport. So, he vowed not to give anything less than the expert basketball scenes they’re all expecting.
"Everybody from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the kid playing 9-10 basketball is going to look at this and judge it, and me being a fan as well, I wanted to make sure of a few things,” he explained. “The players that we had were authentic and really know how to play ball, so when we cast our leads, we considered that.”
Robinson wasn’t kidding. The cast is made up of people like five-star player Marquis Mookie Cook in the role of a young LeBron James whose more at home on the court than in front of the camera. Although this movie marks his acting debut, his prowess in the game is what sold Robinson on casting him to make the movie as authentic as possible. Fortunately, Cook’s co-star, Stranger Things actor Caleb McLaughlin, notes the acting fell into place very quickly once they started filming.
“I trusted Chris Robinson because he’s really good at working with actors,” McLaughlin said. “So, going into the film, we had like a month before we actually started filming. The good thing was that he loved to learn, he was a student, so he asked questions.”
He continued: ”I don’t like telling other actors how to act, I’ll give them advice but I didn’t tell him how to act, he figured it out on his own while working with the acting coach. He did his thing, I’m going to give that to him.”
It seems both the director and his cast understood that teaching athletes to act would be difficult but doable with some hard work. However, teaching actors to move and compete at a level befitting a young James and his immensely talented “Fab Four” friends Lil Dru (McLaughlin), Willie McGee (Avery S. Wills, Jr.), and Sian Cotton (Khalil Everage) would be impossible. Robinson’s commitment to authentic basketball didn’t stop there.
He revealed in his interview that he made sure to get cameramen to shoot the film who all had a background in filming sports, not necessarily movies. That way all the moments on the court will have that slight X factor basketball fans will surely notice. Unfortunately, the games are part of the plot and therefore have a predetermined outcome. For that, Robinson had to rely on choreographers and his cast’s talent to make it look real.
“At first, it’s funny because I said, ‘We don’t need choreographers.’ That was my attitude because I wanted control, but the further we got into it, it was amazing,” he said.
The director concluded by praising his cast for not only taking on a difficult acting role but keeping up with the vigorous training he demanded to ensure the basketball looked good at all times.
“We had no rehearsals, but practices,” he said.
Shooting Stars premieres exclusively on Peacock on June 2.