‘Shooting Stars’ Producer Details 13-Year Journey to Bring LeBron James Story to the Screen | How She Did It

Rachel Winter tells TheWrap how they cast a young James in the story of his high school basketball career

Producer Rachel Winter’s journey with the film “Shooting Stars” began in Las Vegas. She was eloping with her soon-to-be husband when she read a Vanity Fair article containing excerpts from the book “Shooting Stars,” about how LeBron James and his childhood friends became high school basketball champions.

“He laid out the most perfect story, the ups and downs, the hurdles, and it was basically ‘Stand by Me.’ It’s just a story about a group of friends,” Winter told TheWrap during a new installment of How She Did It, presented by Peacock.

The producer immediately began tracking down the rights to the book, which kicked off a 13-year journey to bringing it to the screen.

“It was a very, very long process but eventually we set the movie up with Universal and the rest is, 13 years later, history,” she continued, revealing that once they hired Chris Robinson as the film’s director, they set about casting the young players by going to AAU basketball tournaments – which is where they found Mookie Cook, who plays LeBron James in the film.

“It was about really figuring out who could play basketball to this level. Not one guy, not two guys, but five guys,” she said. “Mookie Cook walked into our lives and it was one of those things where I sort of had to run behind the building and jump up and down. He’s exactly 6’7”, which is what LeBron was in high school. He had never acted before and brought so much life and he’s adorable and the nicest person.”

The production felt it was important to shoot in Akron, Ohio, where James grew up, so they scored a tax credit to film where the story actually took place, hiring locals to be part of the crew.

When all was said and done, Winter said she was relieved to witness James’ reaction to seeing the film for the first time.

“I was sitting two rows behind him and I was kind of watching him. He was like yelling at the screen at one point and the oohing and the aahs, it was one of my favorite moments of working in this business.”

“Shooting Stars” is now streaming on Peacock.


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