"His pettiness just makes me giggle" - Salli Richardson-Whitfield praises Jason Segel in Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (Exclusive)
HBO is in the midst of airing the second season of Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, with episodes streaming on Max. Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Executive Producer of the series and director of three crucial episodes, joined SK POP to discuss the show's cast members, who are not only tasked with the gigantic responsibility of portraying beloved larger-than-life characters, but also recreating an era that is iconic.
Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty does not shy away from the highs and lows of the Los Angeles Lakers. The issues between head coach Paul Westhead and the rest of the Lakers, for instance, are given their due place in the story.
As a sports fan herself, Salli Richardson-Whitfield reveled in being a part of Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty. She spoke about the cast in great detail in this exclusive interview.
Two major comedic actors were able to unleash their dramatic sides in Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, feels Salli Richardson-Whitfield
Salli Richardson-Whitfield played basketball in high school and was thus delighted to be a part of the show. She believes that characters take center-stage in Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty:
"Of course, we're showing these big, iconic sports scenes. But any show that people want to come back to has to be about the characters. And this one is a huge family dynasty. So what are the relationships between those people. And you want to care for those people."
The benefit of working for a sports site is the ability to call upon colleagues, current and former, who are well-versed with this particular era of the NBA, prior to an interview. But even viewers who relish drama without prior knowledge of the Showtime Lakers will not be disappointed. She elaborated:
"So anyone who wants to go to a show to see drama, intrigue and care about characters, this is the show for them. And if you're also a sports fan, now you can do both."
In the series, Jason Segel sheds his comedic chops from How I Met Your Mother and Forgetting Sarah Marshall to take on the role of 'The Professor' Paul Westhead, with his "system," that did not gel with The Lakers' more flamboyant style of playing.
Salli Richardson-Whitfield elaborated on Segel donning a new persona in Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty:
"Jason Segel... He's like one of my favorites playing Westhead. I just think he's brilliant. He's so petty. His pettiness just makes me giggle all the time."
She spoke about how comedians like Jim Carrey and Robin Williams all have a darker side. Segel too was able to channel into his:
"All of these people are some of the best dramatic actors. So, I think that Jason Segel was given great material. The writers wrote him some fantastic stuff and he was able to show who he really is as an actor. "
John C.Reilly as Jerry Buss is another actor whose performance she made special note of:
"Although it was almost like he was born to play this role, you pair that perfect type with the work ethic of how hard he works to bring Jerry Buss to life. And the amount of talent he has. Because again, John C. Reilly is a great comedian too!"
Catch Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty at 9 pm ET/PT on HBO with episodes streaming on Max. Gear up for the highly-anticipated season finale on September 17!