White Men Can’t Jump (2023) Cast and Director Interview
White Men Can’t Jump has been modernized for the present in the new Hulu film but with the same name. While the plot is similar, there are still some changes and updates. During the global press conference for the film, the cast talks about paying homage to the original, but being sure not to replace it with this version. They also discuss the importance of bringing authentic basketball to the screen, and showcasing Los Angeles.
- Jack Harlow – Jeremy
- Sinqua Walls – Kamal
- Teyana Taylor – Imani
- Laura Harrier – Tatiana
- Calmatic – Director
Updated, Not Replaced
White Men Can’t Jump is a classic and iconic film, so there was no need to remake it. This 2023 version has a similar plot, but at the same time is quite different. Sinqua Walls reflects updating the 1992 version versus completely remaking it.
SINQUA: I think the best part is the way that we shot L.A.. The intricacies of that. Because ’92 did something really great with Venice and streetball and telling that authentic story. But one of the special things, genuinely, is the fact that Calmatic can shoot L.A. better than anybody else. And he knew spaces for us to unpack. So, that’s what really updates it for now. You see parts of L.A. that you didn’t see in the original. But you see the people and the culture and the color and the vibrance. The essence of, if you grew up in L.A., you know somebody from Watts and how they really move. Compton and how they really move, Gardena and how they really move. Crenshaw. All those places. And I think that really is different is because this time around, the city is its own character that lives in the story.
Of course, there are lots of references to the 1992 version of White Men Can’t Jump, and Easter Eggs weaved into the film. Director Calmatic talks about including those.
CALMATIC: I don’t like to say we re-made a movie. I feel like we sampled a movie. We took a couple of elements. We chopped it up. We changed the pitch. We reversed it a little bit. And then we put a whole new bassline, a whole new set of drums on it to make it feel current. I feel like that’s what this is. This is a dope flip. They say things that are classic are things that are new that feel familiar. I think we had a bunch of new elements, new characters, new storyline. But we had to have some of those elements, some of those locations that are familiar to everyone, and that associates with the original film. We had to keep Venice Beach in there. We had to have the guy skating down the boardwalk. We had to do this in Watts. That court is iconic. That bridge, the Watts Towers – we had to keep that. Obviously the flamethrower scene. To be honest, it just so happens that these locations look really good on camera, too. There’s a reason why they chose that court. It’s fun to pay homage. That was a dream come true.
Rosie Perez played the equivalent of Laura Harrier’s character in the 1992 version. Laura details what it was like crafting a different version of that character?
LAURA: It was definitely very big shoes to walk into. Rosie Perez is an actress I’ve always looked up to. Her in the original film is such an iconic role and character. So, I wanted to not try and reference any of that because I didn’t wanna try and do a recreation of what she was doing. I wanted to give Tatiana her own character and her own person and my own interpretation of who she was. For the entire film, we’re looking at the original and drawing bits and pieces. But it’s definitely its own thing and its own retelling.
Keeping The Basketball Authentic
Basketball is; obviously, a big part of White Men Can’t Jump. Here, the cast reflects on the importance of keeping it authentic for the screen.
SINQUA: I think the most important part was to make sure that this was authentic with basketball. I think that’s something that truly was cared about, and Cal was critical about every time. I always talk about how a lot of the movie moved at a pace where we had to do single takes. And those movements don’t work unless someone can authentically play basketball to a level that makes the most sense. So, that’s why the basketball in it is so good. I mean, we’re all gonna be critical of it. I know Teyana’s gonna be critical of it. It was important to make sure that was infused naturally. It was fun to step in and use things that I’d already done for years. I had been playing ball since I was six years old. It was something that can actually happen naturally and just move in that space.
Teyana Taylor’s husband is professional basketball player Iman Shumpert, so she has sat courtside and watched her husband play for her. She understands the importance of keeping it authentic as well.
SINQUA: She said, don’t be trash. She literally said, don’t be trash.
TEYANA: Don’t be trash, Iman is coming to set today. We gotta make sure we on point. But to be able to sit back and watch it and bask in it, it was so amazing. Sinqua is great. Jack is great. I’m impressed. The expert is impressed.
Jack Harlow’s First Movie Role
This is Jack Harlow’s first movie role, which you would never know by watching the film. He shares what his experience was like.
JACK: It was cool. A learning experience. I’m thankful that I joined a group of people that were so humble and willing to let me learn and be patient with me and be willing to teach. I feel like I arrived into a egoless environment. I was the least experienced person, and everyone just let me shine and try things and gave me the room to give my opinion. I gotta give a big shoutout to Cal for that. If I felt strongly about something, it didn’t mean that it was gonna go that way, but Cal would hear me out and vice versa. I was all for the lead vision, but I just appreciated that I could come into my first one, and people actually cared what I thought. I just wanna give a big shoutout to everybody I’m sitting with here and everyone that was involved in the film, for making my first one such a seamless experience.
“White Men Can’t Jump” starts streaming on Hulu, Star+ in Latin America and on Disney+ around the world on May 19th.