Thursday, May 26, 2022

Lakers’ Russell Westbrook set to star in Showtime sports documentary ‘Passion Play’

Nine-time All-NBA guard Russell Westbrook’s mercurial persona has long been evident to fans, and in October they can watch how it developed. Showtime Sports documentary films will release “Passion Play: Russell Westbrook” — a film about the former MVP’s  journey from high school to the NBA — on Friday, Oct. 15 on its network, on-demand and streaming platforms. 

While Westbrook has been notoriously short with the media throughout his career, he showed investment in Passion Play by working as an executive producer on the project. Westbrook’s younger brother, Raynard Westbrook, co-produced. 

Passion Play will feature interviews with Westbrook’s former UCLA teammate Kevin Love and his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Nick Collison, among others. It’ll also feature never-before-seen interviews with Westbrook’s family and the man himself. 

“I’m proud to share this documentary and give audiences an inside look into who I really am on and off the court,” Westrbook said in a statement. “There are a lot of misconceptions about me, but I’m ready to share my story and my journey with my fans.”

Emmy-winning filmmakers Gotham Chopra and Erik LeDrew co-directed Passion Play. Chopra has documented some of the world’s most prominent athletes in her previous films, from Kobe Bryant in Kobe Bryant’s Muse to Tom Brady in Tom vs. Time and LeBron James in Shut Up and Dribble. 

Passion Play gives Chopra her best chance yet to shift the perception of an athlete in the polarizing Westbrook. 

“When we started this project with Russell Westbrook in the fall of 2019 and attended his first game with the Houston Rockets, we were all literally living in a different world,” Chopra said. “Two years later – three teams later for Russell – I can say there’s no one I’d rather have ridden this roller coaster with than Russ. Contrary to the persona that’s been painted about him, he’s one of the sharpest, most dynamic, caring, creative and driven people I’ve ever met and collaborated with, and I am excited to share that true version of him with the world through this film.”

Westbrook, 32, is entering his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers after being traded from the Washington Wizards in July. The UCLA alum and two-time scoring champ spent his first 11 seasons in Oklahoma City before making one-year stops with the Houston Rockets and Wizards the past two seasons. In 2020-21, Westbrook notched a career-high 11.7 assists and averaged a triple-double en route to a rare Washington playoff appearance. 

Showtime Sports Documentary Films removed the veneer of some world-class athletes in their previous films, and PASSION PLAY intends to do the exact same thing with Westbrook. 

“The ascribed persona of Russell Westbrook, and that which viewers will come to know from this film, are quite different,” said Stephen Espinoza, President, Sport and Event Programming, Showtime Networks Inc. “PASSION PLAY unravels the yarn that has been spun and reveals the motivation and drive behind a ferocious competitor. We are proud to add Russell’s story to a series of titles spotlighting culturally relevant, contemporary superstars telling their stories – in their words – in the SHOWTIME Sports Documentary Films library.”

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