Former NBA player Kevin Garnett has signed on to play a key supporting role alongside Adam Sandler in A24’s crime dramedy Uncut Gems, Collider has exclusively learned.
Good Time filmmakers Josh and Ben Safdie are directing from a script they co-wrote with Ronald Bronstein. Scott Rudin and Eli Bush are producing alongside Sebastian Bear-McClard and Oscar Boyson of Elara Pictures. Martin Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff are serving as executive producers, and Netflix has international rights to the project.
Set in the Diamond district of New York City, Sandler will play a jewelry store owner with a gambling addiction who is juggling two relationships and escalating debts. Garnett will play a famous basketball player who is a new client of Sandler’s. It’s a significant role for Garnett, whose movie experience has been limited to an uncredited turn in the 1994 college basketball drama Blue Chips. He also played Wilt Chamberlain in the 1996 TV movie Rebound, which starred Don Cheadle as Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault. Lakeith Stanfield, star of Atlanta and Get Out, will play a member of Garnett’s entourage who introduces the NBA star to Sandler’s jeweler.
The script has long featured a role for an NBA star. Years ago, I recall tracking Amar’e Stoudemire for the role, and more recently, casting breakdowns for the film referred to the character as Joel Embiid. Of course, Embiid is unavailable because it’s the middle of the NBA season, so the Safdies turned to one of their favorite retired players to play the part. I began inquiring about the casting on Tuesday evening after Stanfield posted a photo (see above) on Instagram featuring himself, Sandler and Garnett, who later posted his own photo and called Sandler “one of [his] childhood idols.”
Eric Bogosian, Idina Menzel, Judd Hirsch and Pom Klementieff are set to co-star in the film, which is currently shooting in New York City. New York sports radio icon Mike Francesa recently revealed that he also shot a pair of scenes in the film — and not as himself, either. Garnett won an NBA Championship with the Boston Celtics, helping the franchise to the most NBA titles in the history of the league. He also hosts KG’s Area 21 on TNT.
A24 declined to comment, while Garnett’s reps at WME did not immediately respond to a request for comment.