×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Uncle Drew’ Stars Praise Athletes-Turned-Actors at New York Premiere

Athletes bring an unparalleled level of enthusiasm to their line of work, so it’s no surprise that energy translated to the big screen as current and former professional basketball players took on new roles as actors in “Uncle Drew.”

What started as a series of Pepsi commercials is now a feature film about a desperate basketball coach who embarks on a road trip to wrangle and reunite a group of septuagenarian past players to enter, and hopefully win, the Rucker Classic street ball tournament in Harlem.

“It’s about taking risks and doing what your heart compels you to do,” director Charles Stone III told Variety at the “Uncle Drew” premiere in New York City on Tuesday.

Also in attendance were athletes and actors Kyrie Irving, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, and Lisa Leslie.

For the non-athletes involved in “Uncle Drew,” it was both rewarding and humbling to team up with these NBA and WNBA legends.

“I got the chance to work with people I look up to,” star Lil Rel Howery said. “It was surreal. To see them come into our world was great.”

Howery’s sentiments populated the carpet as the rest of the cast and crew expressed how much it meant to collaborate with these professional athletes to create what they believe will be a summer hit.

“I love basketball and where I’ve gotten because of the sport,” screenwriter Jay Longino said. “ For me, it’s in movies, but [these athletes are] where they are today because of [playing] ball, and that’s kind of an amazing thing.”

“You would think these guys are only competitive on the court, but they have pride in all of their work,” J.B. Smoove, who also stars in the film, said. “They show up on time. They work hard, and they are committed to their characters.”

On set, once the cast was decked out in makeup and prosthetics that took upwards of three hours to apply, the lines blurred between seasoned actors and first-timers.

“Everyone was just excited to play. It was cool because it was a combination of basketball players and stand-up comedians and actors,” Stone III said. “It was just love on set, and it’s going to show when you see the movie.”

“Uncle Drew” will hit theaters June 29.

More Scene

  • Marianne Rendon, Matt Smith, Ondi Timoner

    Robert Mapplethorpe Biopic Team Talks 'Fast and Furious' Filming

    Thursday night’s New York premiere of the Matt Smith-led biopic “Mapplethorpe” took place at Cinépolis Chelsea, just steps from the Chelsea Hotel where the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe once lived — but director Ondi Timoner had no sense of that legacy when she first encountered him in a very different context. “When I was ten [...]

  • Producer Mel Jones poses at the

    'Dear White People' Producer Talks Hollywood's 'Black Tax'

    “Dear White People” and “Leimert Park” executive producer Mel Jones is extremely familiar with growing up and watching “white men in all types of roles and never [seeing] ourselves as a part of those narratives.” Now, there may be some more opportunities for writers of color to tell their own stories, but, she notes, there [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Isn't It Romantic

    Rebel Wilson on Twitter Gaffe: 'It Was Purely to Lift My Fellow Plus-Size Women Up'

    “I obviously misspoke in that situation,” Rebel Wilson told Variety at the premiere of her latest film “Isn’t It Romantic” Monday, acknowledging the gaffe in which she claimed to be the first-ever plus-sized woman to star in a romantic comedy during an October appearance on “Ellen.” Following the comment, Wilson was met with criticism from Twitter [...]

  • NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 11:

    How Lena Waithe Convinced Halle Berry to Team Up for 'Boomerang' TV Series

    Halle Berry wasn’t immediately sold on the idea of a “Boomerang” reboot. The 1992 romantic comedy, which starred Berry, Eddie Murphy, and Robin Givens, told the tale of cocky ad executive and insatiable ladies’ man Marcus (Murphy) who meets his match in his new boss Jacqueline (Givens) — an exec who treats him the same [...]

  • Rebel Wilson and Miley Cyrus'Isn't it

    Why Liam Hemsworth Wasn't at His 'Isn't It Romantic' Premiere, but Wife Miley Cyrus Was

    Liam Hemsworth had every intention of bringing his wife, Miley Cyrus, to Monday’s premiere of his new romantic comedy “Isn’t It Romantic.” However, the Aussie actor was forced to skip the evening because of some “health things.” That didn’t stop Cyrus from attended the red carpet shindig at the Theater at the Ace Hotel in downtown [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content