Arts and Entertainment
|'Ballers' aim: Stay true to the game, and real life|
|Cast in Charlotte to dish on HBO series|
|Published Saturday, July 15, 2017 9:57 pm|
|The cast of the HBO series "Ballers" was in Charlotte Thursday for a preview party at the Fillmore.|
You don’t have to be into sports to enjoy “Ballers.”
Season 3 of the HBO show staring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson premieres July 23 on at 10 p.m. (followed by the season premiere of “Insecure” at 10:30 p.m.). Johnson portrays Spencer Strasmore, a retired professional football player who found a way to stay in the game off the field. Cast members gathered for a preview party last week at The Fillmore.
“People should know that if they don’t like sports, it’s OK,” said Jazmyn Simon, who plays Julie Greane. “There’s something for everybody on ‘Ballers.’ There’s relationship stories. There’s family dynamics. There is a lot of sports, but it’s just a human story that everybody can understand. So don’t be intimidated if you’re not a sports fan, but if you are a sports fan, you’re in luck.”
Said Donovan Carter, who plays Vernon Littlefield: “It’s a show about football, but it’s not necessarily about the game. It’s more about the lifestyle outside of the field and the locker room. It’s not about plays or anything. It just shows these players, what they do when they don’t ball. They’re just regular people. [It shows] how they live their lives, their distractions. They’ve got life problems just like everybody else.”
While football comes with a great deal of privilege, “Ballers” emphasizes more than the cars, houses, clothes and other perks that come with being part of the best players on the planet. But don’t worry, it include those elements, too.
“The really great part about ‘Ballers’ is that we don’t just focus on the glamorous side,” Simon said. “Actually our show is during the offseason when they’re not playing football. They’re just living their normal lives. We start with the show when the season ends, and we end with the show right before the season begins. It’s really the real side—the family side, the financial problems that they have, the relationship problems, the health problems and scares. At the end of last season, Dwayne hobbled in to get hip replacement from playing football for so long. I think we do a really good job of doing actual life to something that you guys don’t normally get to see.”
Said Carter: “We all go through life. It’s the same with these players, but for some reason it’s in the light, and it’s heightened because of what they do. We all go through problems, but you’re not going to read it the next day on Twitter. It’s not going to blow up as fast as it does for athletes.”
Each episode includes a different face that you’ll recognize from the court, the field or even the rink—episode 1 includes an appearance from Charlottean Steph Curry during the offseason.
“We have professional athletes on literally every single episode of ‘Ballers’,” Simon said. “If there’s 10 episodes in a season, there will probably be 20 professional football players, basketball players, hockey players. We had Sports Illustrated models last season. We always have something or someone that’s a professional athlete on the show. We have two writers – Terrell Suggs [a Baltimore Ravens linebacker] and Rashard Mendenhall [a former Pittsburgh Steelers running back], [who] is actually a staff writer. He wrote an episode this season and one last [season]. They kind of go through all of the real scripts with our writers to make sure that it’s true. They give real anecdotal stories that have happened to them. I think my fun house episode in Season 1 was an actual story that happened to an actual player. We try to keep it as real as possible.”
That’s part of the appeal of “Ballers” – to stay as true to real life as possible.
“There’s always professional athletes on the show,” Simon said. “I think this season is one of our best. This is Season 3, so we keep getting better and better. We just got nominated for an Emmy [this week] for cinematography, because it looks like a movie—every half hour episode that we have. The only complaint that I’ve ever gotten about ‘Ballers’ is that it needs to be an hour instead of 30 minutes.”
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