August 18, 2022

From co-creators Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht, and with a pilot directed by govt producer Adam McKay, the 10-episode HBO sequence Profitable Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty follows the intertwining skilled and private lives of the Nineteen Eighties Los Angeles Lakers. What turned one in all sports activities’ most revered and dominant dynasties began with a imaginative and prescient set in movement when Dr. Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly) took over and reinvigorated the franchise, bringing collectively the flashy characters and the unsung heroes that eternally modified the NBA and what the followers grew to anticipate from basketball.

Throughout this interview with Collider, co-stars Tracy Letts (who performs Jack McKinney, the unique architect of the Lakers’ Showtime basketball), Jason Segel (who performs Paul Westhead, who got here to the Lakers as an assistant coach with McKinney) and DeVaughn Nixon (who performs Norma Nixon, the all-star level guard of the Lakers earlier than the arrival of Magic Johnson) talked about what it was like for Nixon to painting his personal father, studying the basketball fashion of the period, the nice freedom Letts had in portraying McKinney, and the non-public facet of himself that Segel wished to carry to Westhead.


Collider: I’m an L.A. native who’s fascinated by L.A. historical past, so I actually loved watching this present. DeVaughn, you’re an actor, however you’re additionally taking part in your individual father on this story. When the potential for taking part in Norm Nixon got here your means, what was response? Have been you want, “Okay, they need to simply give me the position now”? Did you ever surprise should you shouldn’t do it? What went by your head?

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DeVAUGHN NIXON: My dad is a harsh critic, however I adore it as a result of it made me the individual I’m at the moment. I like constructive criticism. I adore it when individuals critique me as a result of it makes me wanna work more durable, and that’s how my dad is. Me taking up this position, taking part in him, who’s a residing individual that’s on TV on daily basis. I used to be like, “Okay, if I don’t play this half proper, they’re gonna speak about me.” He’s a commentator, so I’m certain they’d carry it as much as him. That was one in all my worries. That was just a little little bit of a worry of mine. I used to be scared. After which, part of me was like, “Hey, you already know what? Folks don’t actually know your story.” Let’s be sincere, if I wasn’t my father’s son, I’d’ve solely heard of Magic, Kareem, and people individuals. So, it was an opportunity to offer him his due. I used to be like, “You recognize what? I’m gonna take this problem on.” And I’m glad I did as a result of I occurred to assume I did a fairly good job.

Picture by way of HBO Max

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What was probably the most surreal second for you? Did you could have a second the place you simply stopped and thought, “Okay, that is unusual”?

NIXON: Placing on the jersey for the primary time, which was form-fitted to my physique. It was a battle throwing these arms on. After which, as soon as I acquired it down and I circled, and I noticed the ten and the Nixon on my again, I despatched him an image. He was like, “Cool.” That was it. That’s all I acquired. He’s rooting for the sequence and he’s rooting for all the things to do nicely. I do know I’m speaking smack proper now, however he’s truly very happy with me, and he’s comfortable.

Tracy, we don’t know a lot about your character, personally, off the court docket, as a result of he’s somebody who’s so targeted on the work. How did that affect the best way that you considered Jack McKinney and approached taking part in him?

TRACY LETTS: It gave me nice freedom, in a way, as a result of I’m not competing with individuals’s public photos of Jack McKinney of their head. From the viewers’s perspective, he’s a clean slate. It was all on the web page. His imaginative and prescient for tips on how to run a basketball crew, tips on how to create this offense, tips on how to use his personnel, all of that stuff was on the web page. And definitely, all of that stuff is human stuff which you can determine with. When it comes to the precise teaching, I’ve been coached and I’ve had coaches in my life. There’s a tone and a fashion that I discovered fairly straightforward to entry. I additionally had sufficient individuals on the set who have been precise basketball gamers and basketball coaches, and individuals who would inform me, if I used to be doing it fallacious. I had some guideposts, but in addition had great freedom to create the character. He was actually there on the web page.

Picture by way of HBO Max

Jason, your character is fascinating since you actually get to know him by his relationship with Jack McKinney. Paul Westhead doesn’t actually exist to anybody else until he’s with Jack. How did that relationship outline him? How do you assume that additionally helped him discover his personal voice, as soon as Jack wasn’t there anymore?

JASON SEGEL: I believe that what defines Paul Westhead, once we meet him and for most likely years earlier than, is an concept that he has determined that he’s second greatest. He says very brazenly to Pat Riley in dialogue that, “In some unspecified time in the future, I spotted, primarily, that I used to be making an attempt too laborious to be my very own man. Possibly what I’m greatest at helps another person be their greatest self.” What a tragic concept for somebody to determine that what they’re greatest at helps any person else be their greatest. After which, what emerges round midway by the season, after McKinney will get injured, is a man who’s pressured to shatter that concept and step up as a result of there’s no different alternative. So yeah, I believe particularly in his position with the Lakers, the second he arrives, he’s solely there due to Jack, and with out Jack, he would, in his personal thoughts, not exist to any of those individuals.

I’m solely, simply at my age, beginning to not consider myself as lower than an underdog. It’s one thing that served me very nicely, at first of my profession. All of us from Freaks and Geeks have been like, “Oh, I hope individuals watch this.” And with all the things that we ever wrote, it was like, “God, wouldn’t it’s nice, if any person watched this.” It’s cute if you’re younger. It’s the humility it’s best to have if you’re younger. However then, after you’ve executed sufficient stuff, it turns into much less cute and it turns into just a little like an impact. You notice, “Oh, I have to step into my maturity and personal that I’m good at what I do.” That arc was one thing I used to be involved in bringing to this character.

Tracy, it doesn’t actually seem to be Jack sees Paul that means although. What do you assume Jack sees in Paul that makes him wish to have him there?

LETTS: The script tells us that what he sees in Paul is his loyalty. It’s his friendship that he values, but in addition his loyalty. Jack is stepping right into a head teaching job for the primary time in his life, and he not solely needs to carry his buddy alongside, however he needs to carry alongside any person who’s gonna have his again, which is what makes the occasions of the season all of the more difficult and even heartbreaking. The reality is that these two guys shepherded this crew to a championship. It’s not straightforward to win an NBA championship, and but they did. Granted, they’d Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson on the crew, in order that definitely gave them a leg up, however what they have been doing, labored.

Picture by way of HBO Max

DeVaughn, what was it prefer to shoot the scenes on the court docket and to determine tips on how to play a mode that wouldn’t essentially be your individual fashion in basketball?

NIXON: I grew up principally with the Iversons, so the fashion of play was loopy completely different with the crossovers. It was simply extra streetball. That’s what it developed into. With the basketball gamers again then, it was fundamental dribbles, get to the basket, no showboating. When Magic Johnson got here by, that’s when the flash acquired in. He broke the seal of that. Principally, it was Kareem taking pictures sky hooks. Wilt Chamberlain was passing the ball proper over the rim, making straightforward lay-ups. It wasn’t flashy. I grew up with a mode of play that was just a little bit flashy, like [Michael] Jordan together with his tongue out, or Larry Johnson, who’s an underrated basketball participant. So, it was about going again to taking pictures correctly and actually operating the performs, and never simply move it and shoot from half-court, like Steph Curry does. It was just a little bit difficult as a result of I wished to get into my very own fashion of play, however we had an important basketball coach, Idan Ravin, and he would actually be like, “DeVaughn, no, you’re turning over the ball if you’re dribbling like that.” That’s how everyone dribbles now. It was extra fundamental. It was difficult, however I positively assume we hit it on the pinnacle.

Profitable Time airs on Sunday nights on HBO and is out there to stream at HBO Max.


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