dogfather is still there underdogs star.
The sports comedy, premiering Friday on Prime Video, takes inspiration from Snoop Dogg’s admirable work as a coach and founder of the Snoop Youth Football League, which has served as a starting point for many future NFL players. Directed by sports film veteran Charles Stone III (drumline, mr 3000, uncle Drew, underdogs Snoop plays Jason “Too JS” Jennings, a washed-up former star who is ordered into community service, forcing him to coach a pee-wee football team in his hometown of Long Beach.
Stone is no stranger to making movies with heroes who aren’t traditional actors, whether it’s the late standup legend Bernie Mac (mr 3000) or NBA champion Kyrie Irving (uncle Drew), and he saw something in Snoop that he could “work with”.
“He’s very intelligent, and what I mean by that is he really understands how people behave, how people are,” Stone told The Messenger about the iconic rapper. “And so it became easier for me to communicate with him or give notes. He understood it, and thank God he was so open. He would always say, ‘Whatever you need, man, go on!’ He really wanted this role. He wanted this experience – and it shows. I think he did a great job.
Ahead of The UnderdogIn Friday’s premiere on Prime Video, we talked to Stone about being drawn to sports movies, working with Snoop, and abusing children.
What were the chances of teaming up with Snoop? underdogs Did you like it?
Charles Stone III: The creator of this project, Jonathan Glickman, and I did mr 3000 together 20 years ago, and he called me up and told me about this idea because he worked with Snoop addams family, And so they developed a relationship, and then they developed the story with Snoop’s producer, Constance Schwartz-Morini, and they thought I would make a great role in it. I read the script and fell in love with it. And I have made this kind of film before, but this angle about these kids was unique. Yes, cursing at kids was really fun. And I’m a big fan too bad news bear, which, in the 70s, was pretty revolutionary about kids abusing kids. And I loved the story because, for me, it was a different take on the value of winning: what it means to win, and not just winning a trophy, but other ways we can be victorious.
mr 3000 And underdogs You’ve only done a few sports films, so which genre do you like working in the most?
I’m a big comic book, sci-fi, fantasy head and games are a way for me to do superhero movies or hero stories. If you really think about a sports movie, it always involves a hero and a villain, and, in some form or another, it always involves the hero having to work his way through personal demons or fears. Have to get out of. To fully realize your superpower. And then that conflict has a physical expression. Whereas in a superhero movie, they go to battle, in sports movies, they do so on a football field or basketball court. So, I think I’ve been able to fulfill my love for the hero’s journey in the realm of sports. And I’ve played sports my whole life, so I’ve experienced that level of competition firsthand and had to fight my ego in terms of how to overcome adversity and not lose.
Snoop has appeared in a number of shows or movies over the years, but I’m having a hard time remembering the last time he was front and center in a movie like this. Come on, what were your previous impressions of Snoop as an actor, and now after working with him on this, what impressed you about him as an actor?
Knowing that it was inspired by his Snoop Youth Football League and his 20-plus years of coaching and creating the Peewee Football League, I could see in other pieces he had done, small roles in movies, that there was a foundation, Acting-wise, which I can work on. And absolutely love working with Bernie Mac mr 3000, Bernie was actually best known as a standup comedian. But, in experiencing his standup, there was a certain sensitivity and understanding of the life lessons and everything he had learned and experienced in his life that I felt he could bring to that role. And here, Snoop, it’s perfect because he’s been a superstar. I’m sure he is aware of his ego and those moments where one feels bigger than one’s britches. And he likes sports. So he understood all the different dimensions of the story and the character that I felt, okay, because of this, I’ll be able to really tap into his life experiences and work with him to create the To JS character for us. ,
And then the experience of it was amazing; It was truly an honor to work with him. He was very present, very open to really being there, even when there were uncomfortable moments. We all have our own comfort zones, and we may be able to step out of them if asked by a character, and there are moments where Too Jay really wants to let kid Trey (Jonigan Booth) know his As he sees while acting. The moment where Trey says, “F— everyone, f— you, f— my coaches, f— my teammates. I’m self-made.” That’s what To J said at the beginning of the movie, and so it needed to hit really hard, and for Snoop to convey embarrassment and feeling like, “I’ve been living this way for so long ” He’s extremely intelligent, and by that I just mean understanding how people behave, how people are. And so that made it easier for me to communicate with him or give notes. He would understand it, and thank God he was so open. He’d always say, “Whatever you want, man, let’s go!” He really wanted this role. He wanted this experience to happen – and it shows. I think he did a very poor job.
I have to imagine that choreographing actual games in sports movies is already hard enough – and then you add kids. So, were there any new or unexpected challenges here in that regard?
Yes of course. Kids were worried, “Will they be able to play football well?” But one thing we all agreed on was that we also had to allow kids to play football, not have kids suddenly become pro football players and do crazy things like the professionals. However, there are kids at that age who can do some pretty impressive things, and we do some of that. But it also helped accept and celebrate the quirks and awkwardness without trying to force it to be something it’s not. This helped us mentally.
But I had a team that I worked with all the time called Game Changers; they did mr 3000 And uncle Drew, They are the ones who create various football scenes, hold auditions, set up training and boot camps and do everything else to prepare them. All the actors had doubles, but the actors also did bootcamp. I found the kids to be very nice and didn’t cause any problems. I mean, attention span, sometimes. Kids want to be scrappy and stuff, but this was at a minimal level. What’s tough is the kids’ hours. Child labor laws are really good and very strict, as they should be, to protect these children from being overworked. But we had such an ambitious shoot that it became very challenging for us to get everything done due to the limited number of hours per day, so we really had to focus on our Ps and Qs.
I appreciated how referential the film was, no matter what Harold and Kumar The line directed at Kal Penn or, in my favorite scene, when Mike Epps delivers a hilarious monologue mighty Ducks, How fun was it to give an artist like Mike Epps free rein to do his thing with this kind of material?
Whenever I can get a moment to be referential or wink a lot or make fun of tropes and be self-destructive, I just love doing that. I used to do this when I directed music videos in the 90s. I made a music video for Roots a long time ago called “What they do,” And it draws attention to all the different visual tropes and techniques that music videos have used repeatedly. So it was fun to do that here, and sometimes it happened on the page, or I’d say to the writers, “Let’s have a moment that makes fun of this.”
In terms of improvisation, I love working with standup comedians because it brings an extra dimension to the film. Like the carjacking moment, there were very specific lines that are important, but that was also really important for Mike and Snoop. My big note to Mike was, “Kareem is an OG and a 12-year-old mixed kid,” and he understood it and it really makes it seem like he’s a big kid. And George Lopez, interestingly, he’s a straight man. He’s the Yoda of the story, and in the end, with the big game, he goes free. We had to let him do some fun improvisation from the stand.
My logical final question is, what sport would you play in your next sports movie? You’re starting to fall out of mainstream sports!
If I do another sports movie, and I think I will at some point, I’d really want to explore the world of track and field because that’s what I did as a kid and a teen. And then a story I want to do is a biography of the Harlem Globetrotters. There’s a script for this that’s pretty impressive, and it’s not all fun and games; It’s actually quite heavy.
underdogs Will premiere on Friday on Prime Video.