Filmmaker Chris Robinson's new movie 'Shooting Stars,' starring Caleb McLaughlin, follows James and his childhood friends' high school basketball career
Despite making a movie based on LeBron James' life before the NBA, filmmaker Chris Robinson is still waiting to meet the basketball legend. But he's already got the Lakers star's approval, Robinson shared at a screening of the James biopic Shooting Stars.
As Robinson and the film's star Caleb McLaughlin took part in a Q&A following a screening of the movie in New York City on Wednesday, the director said that one of James' real-life friends portrayed in the movie, Willie McGee, recently told him that the NBA superstar has seen a rough cut of the film and "loved it."
"They got the rough cut on the computer and [McGee] said that all of the real Fab Five, LeBron, Anthony Davis and a couple other guys from the Lakers were all huddled around a little computer, watched the whole movie because LeBron couldn't cast it to his TV," Robinson told an audience Wednesday.
"He said that LeBron loved it. They loved it," the director added. "So when the real guys loved it, that was good enough for me."
Shooting Stars, adapted from the 2009 book of the same name written by James and journalist Buzz Bissinger, depicts James and his childhood friends' high school basketball career at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio.
21-year-old McLaughlin, best known for his role in the Netflix hit Stranger Things, portrays James' childhood friend Lil Dru Joyce III, while Avery S. Willis Jr. plays Willie McGee and Khalil Everage plays Sian Cotton. Real-life NBA prospects Scoot Henderson and Marquis "Mookie" Cook portray Romeo Travis and James, respectively, rounding out the high school basketball team's roster and the group's self-styled "Fab Four" nickname.
"Here's something interesting. I have not met LeBron. I have not met LeBron yet," Robinson said Wednesday, when asked what James thought of the film's portrayal of his high school years. "So at first I was like, 'Oh, I'm going to talk to him. I don't want to have this conversation.' "
"But the longer I didn't meet him, the more I said, 'Oh, maybe this is a gift,' " the director added. "Because I have my thought process of who he is. It's embedded in me."
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"I'm going to hopefully, eventually meet him," he added, noting that it was "great to not meet him because I didn't have anything that would make me change my thoughts on the story."
While James became one of the greatest basketball players ever after winning three state championships in four years at St. Vincent-St. Mary's, the film also centers around the all-around skill of Cotton, Joyce III, McGee and Travis, who each went on to successful careers in athletics after high school and remain close friends.
"We all know LeBron's story to some degree, but we don't know little Dru's story," Robinson said Wednesday of McLaughlin's character Joyce III. In real life, Joyce III went on to become the University of Akron's all-time assists leader and played 12 seasons of professional basketball in Europe, per Cleveland.com.
"How is it to be the best friend of somebody who even your father is paying more attention to than you?" Robinson said of the film's focus on McLaughlin's character. "I think Caleb killed the role."
Shooting Stars begins streaming on Peacock June 2.
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