With Uncle Drew now playing in theaters, I recently sat down with director Charles Stone III to talk about making the film. If you’re not familiar with Uncle Drew – played by NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving - he was originally conceived of by Pepsi for a digital episodic series, and after the monster popularity of the character, was brought to the big screen by Lionsgate. In the film, Uncle Drew and his old basketball squad (made up of Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, and Nate Robinson) are brought out of retirement by Lil Rel Howery to try and win the Rucker Classic street ball tournament over his longtime rival (Nick Kroll). Uncle Drew also stars Tiffany Haddish, Lisa Leslie, and J.B. Smoove.
During the interview, Stone III talked about how quickly the project came together, the casting process, how he thought about putting both Kevin Garnett and Snoop Dogg in the film, what he learned in the test screening process, filming the dance sequence, who came up with the Kobe Bryant joke in the film, his reaction when Lionsgate said they would release the film in the heart of summer, and a lot more. In addition, as a big fan of the band Living Colour, I asked Stone III what he remembers about directing some of their early music videos.
Check out what he had to say in the player above, and below is exactly what we talked about, along with the official synopsis and some images from the film.
Charles Stone III:
- How did the project land on his desk?
- How they put the film together in five and a half weeks. You usually get a lot more.
- Talks about the casting process and how they decided on the other basketball players that would be in the film. Did they almost cast other people?
- Why scheduling was always a big problem with the cast.
- What surprised him when he first got in the editing room?
- What did he learn from the test screening process that impacted the finished film?
- Was he more nervous for the basketball players acting or dancing?
- Talks about filming the dance sequence.
- Did he find more people wanted to visit him filming this film than ever other project?
- Who came up with the Kobe joke?
- What was his reaction when the studio said they would release the film at the end of June?
- Did he make this movie to get a great hook up on sneakers?
- Does he think basketball is more popular than ever?
- How did he land directing some early Living Colour music videos and we also discuss the band.
Here’s the official synopsis:
After draining his life savings to enter a team in the Rucker Classic street ball tournament in Harlem, Dax (Lil Rel Howery) is dealt a series of unfortunate setbacks, including losing his team to his longtime rival (Nick Kroll). Desperate to win the tournament and the cash prize, Dax stumbles upon the man, the myth, the legend UNCLE DREW (NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving) and convinces him to return to the court one more time. The two men embark on a road trip to round up Drew’s old basketball squad (Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, and Lisa Leslie) and prove that a group of seniors can still win the big one.
For more on the film hit up the social pages: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also watch my interview with Kyrie Irving on Uncle Drew here and he also reveals which sneakers he dropped serious money to own.