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'Shooting Stars' Director Says He Was Intentional About Displaying Fatherhood, Black Family

Cast of Shooting Stars
Photo Credit: Oluwaseye Olusa/Universal Pictures

Many have met the legendary basketball icon and philanthropist LeBron James when he was already a star coming out of Akron, Ohio. But people really don't know how he rose to fame and how the village he was surrounded by helped catapult the legend to stardom.

Shooting Stars gives us a better look at James when he was in high school and how his squad, also known as the "Fab Five," helped him become the star he is today. It is essentially an adaptation of a memoir of the same name written by James and Buzz Bissinger but also the 2009 documentary More Than a Game.

Starring Wood Harris, Marquis "Mookie" Cook, Caleb McClaughlin and Algee Smith, Shooting Stars goes a little bit deeper than the documentary and really displays how family and friends created the foundation that James would eventually stand on. The biopic was directed by Chris Robinson, who shared in an interview with The Quintessential Gentleman that he only met LeBron James once.

Chris Robinson Shooting Stars Director
Photo Credit: Oluwaseye Olusa/Universal Pictures

Learn about what Robinson discovered about James after shooting, why he was intentional about displaying fatherhood and the Black family in the film and more.

(Transcript Edited - Interview conducted May 30,2023)

Why did you want to be a part of this film?

When you make a film it takes up a lot of time in your life. I've been on this one for three and a half years. And the longer you're in your career, you're more selective to the things you want to do. And when I read this script, it just resonated with me. Resonated about my personal experiences, my family experiences. I'm a big sports fan, and really understanding the psychology of what makes greatness.

What was your thought process around the intentionality of the family dynamic and Black fatherhood in Shooting Stars?

Absolutely, it was intentional. Representation is very important for us. You know, how we're seeing on screen. Being able to see this story, which is kind of a father-son story. It's a story of brotherhood, being on screen, and telling a story that's not about trauma, which some of those stories are necessary, and some of them are my favorite films. But when I read the script, it was the opportunity to tell the story and see Black boys on the screen this way. To know that there's a father there. To know that there's a mother there. To know that they work things out amongst themselves, that really speak to the heart in an experience that many of us had.

What was the most challenging part about directing this film?

Making a film is difficult. It's hard to make a mediocre film, right? It's just so many moving pieces, you're working with 200 people a day on set. And it's challenging, but I think for this one, it was actually the amount of authenticity that I wanted to bring to it. Representing people who are alive and well and kicking and thriving, who are going to watch this movie, who lived through the experience. It was really studying. Going beyond the X's and O's, as they say. It's not a basketball movie, per se. But simultaneously, we've got to shoot the best basketball shot. So I think it was that combination of trying to make a story that touched people emotionally and being authentic, because it's a true story, and then creating the action that made it elevated.

What did you learn about LeBron after directing the film?

I think I learned that he didn't skip any steps. Right? We see a fully formed LeBron James winning championships being a billionaire and a mogul. But it started at the Salvation Army. It started with his coach kind of telling him, 'Look, your success is connected to how well you deal with pressure.' His relationship with his mom. The projects he grew up in. The Midwest mentality of hard work. Like all these things were going on while he was 13,14, 15. It's a true story. So, I always thought he is like this phenomenal player but I learned that him and his community are a group of phenomenal human beings and family. And that foundation that was created really matters to where he is today.

Shooting Stars is now streaming on Peacock. Check out the full interview below.

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