Five-time NBA All-Star and Boston Celtic, Kyrie Irving, stars as the titular character Uncle Drew which opens in theaters June 29th, 2018. Uncle Drew was originally a series of Pepsi advertisement in 2012 that is now getting the big budget Hollywood treatment by Lionsgate.
Screen Rant sat down with Kyrie Irving to talk about how Uncle Drew went from commercial to feature film, the inspirations for the character, the funny improvisations made on set, LeBron James possibly joining the LA Lakers, Kyrie and his team’s hope for the NBA finals, him being sidelined, the film parodying the NBA players’ foibles, and the NBA stars’ acting abilities.
Screen Rant: This is so much fun. Uncle Drew started as a commercial campaign. How did this become a feature film?
Kyrie Irving: It started as an internet, I guess you can say sensation. Got a lot of followers, a lot of backing from it, from Pepsi. And then went to a commercial. And then Jay Longino wrote a narrative. Charles Stone III came on as director. Lionsgate. Temple Hill. Here we are.
Screen Rant: I’m a big fan of Lil’ Penny and Grandmama, how much inspiration is taken from some of that stuff?
Kyrie Irving: I would say that they’ve had an influential part in terms of the sneaker culture. As well as a storyline narrative that goes into telling a story of an alternate ego. And for me, I really can appreciate that. Because there was an alter ego aspect to it. But literally, I just took a lot of my personality and wisdom that I’ve got from a lot of the older generation, put into Uncle Drew.
Screen Rant: That’s interesting. So, Uncle Drew’s drawn from a lot of your experience as well.
Kyrie Irving: Yeah. Absolutely. No one had to help me channel in a character of Uncle Drew. Meaning like, I know exactly what I want to embody. I had my acting coaches who did a great job with me. But in terms of embodying who I felt Uncle Drew should be, was easy.
Screen Rant: I got to ask you about some of the improv. Because after the post credit stuff is all improv stuff. Was there anything that you wanted to keep in the film that you were just like, I wish that would’ve stayed in. That was great?
Kyrie Irving: No. No, man. I think that some of them were meant to be outtakes. And some of them were meant to be in the film, you know what I mean? Because we definitely pushed the envelope a few times and I thought that was pretty fun.
Screen Rant: There’s obviously a lot of rumors about LeBron (James) coming to LA. And if that were to happen, would you want to see that happen? And would that re-spark the Boston Celtics LA Laker storied rivalry?
Kyrie Irving: Well first off, that’s up to LA. I’m in Boston. Honestly, there is a rivalry regardless. But, I wish the Lakers best in their endeavors in terms of who they try to get.
Screen Rant: Yeah. You have a pretty young team. And now Boston, they’re already looking like they could probably go to the finals next year, possibly.
Kyrie Irving: That’s the hope.
Screen Rant: That’s the hope. With the talent on your team. How hard was it for you, this year, to be on the sidelines?
Kyrie Irving: It sucked man. It absolutely sucked. You want to be out there playing at the biggest stage. That’s exactly what I prepare myself for. To be on that stage, doing great things with great teammates.
Screen Rant: Now, you obviously have a ton of basketball legends in this room. And I love the fact that there’s this kind of inside thing. Where it kind of makes fun of itself. Where in terms of like there’s that Chris Webber joke. Because like, hey, we don’t have any timeouts left. Which I thought was hilarious. Where these characters made for those legends in particular?
Kyrie Irving: I think Jay Longino had an idea who he wanted to put into it. And I think he did a great job executing in terms of, kind of pushing the envelope a little bit. And being able to laugh at certain mistakes that we’ve all made within our lives or careers. Shaq with the free throws, you know what I mean? C. Webb with the time outs. And it was just awesome to see.
Screen Rant: Who surprised you the most out of your basketball peers with their acting ability?
Kyrie Irving: I think everyone did in one way or another. There was quite a few scenes where everyone individually had to deliver some type of emotion. And it had to look great on camera. And to see that come to life was pretty good.