LeBron James Has Always Shown an Interest in Cinema

LeBron James has never been a normal athlete. Getting the eyes of the world on him when he was barely old enough to drive made it impossible for him to lead a normal life. Even when he grew into one of the greatest NBA players ever, he always seemed bigger than basketball. Recently, he has focused on a career in entertainment — producing and starring in several projects across all mediums. For those who have paid attention, however, James‘ transition into Hollywood power player should come as no surprise. 

LeBron James smiling in a gray sweatshirt
LeBron James | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

LeBron’s early days

To see LeBron’s interest in the film industry, one can look at his early commercial work as proof. According to the Bleacher Report, James wasn’t the first athlete to ever appear in commercials for shoes, beverages, and several other products, his commercials seemed different. From animated journeys on the basketball hoops to comedic commercials parodying his hype, there was a cinematic quality to James’ commercials that was hard to miss.

One of his most successful ad campaigns had James spreading his acting wings in the way that few had as athletes. He didn’t just play himself alongside a famous actor or comedian, he played multiple versions of himself. On top of the regular version of himself, there was the child version hell-bent on getting into trouble, a business-like version who was always on his phone, and an opinionated older version. The mix of the three looked more like a scene out of an Eddie Murphy movie than it did a shoe commercial.

On top of that, James began appearing on other mediums in ways that showed off his personality. Like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley before him, James hosted Saturday Night Live. He also hosted the ESPYs alongside Jimmy Kimmel. James has the charisma of a seasoned entertainer, and before he was old enough to rent a car, he showed this in many ways. 

LeBron James as a film buff

James’ love of movies also sets him apart from other players, as reported by Variety. He doesn’t just enjoy watching them and move on, he takes them in as a part of himself. His connection to the Space Jam franchise predates the upcoming film, and its meaning to him has been public knowledge since he came into the NBA. Surprisingly, this is not his favorite movie, however. 

James has an obsession with The Godfather. Several times throughout his career, he has cited his love for both the movie and the book. He loves the themes of family and loyalty. He has been known to quote the film and claimed to have watched it nightly before entering big games as a way to get hyped up. His love got so big that many questioned whether it was just a cry for attention. 

With this kind of love for cinema, it should come as no surprise that James is entering the Hollywood scene as his career presumably begins to wind down. He’s got several projects coming up in front and behind the scenes. 

The next big thing in Hollywood?

James’ connection to the film industry predates his decision to join the Lakers. According to the New Yorker, he was a major part of Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck, in which he played a comedic version of himself. He has also tried his hand in voice acting, playing a small voice role in the animated children’s film Smallfoot. He enjoys working in front of the camera or behind the microphone in Hollywood, but James’ true passion might be in behind the scenes work. 

Through SpringHill Entertainment, the production company that James owns with Maverick Carter, he has begun putting his name on several productions, according to IMDb. The company is co-producing Space Jam 2 with Warner Brothers, and they helped make the MyCareer story in NBA 2K20. Television shows, documentaries, movies, SpringHill has given James a place in Hollywood few can boast. He’s just getting started, too. 

SpringHill currently owns the rights to Friday the 13th. The wildly successful horror franchise is looking for a reboot, and James might have a hand in bringing it back. James clearly wants to be a serious power player in Hollywood, not just an athlete putting his name on projects. Whenever his career ends, you can bet he is going to dip his toes even further into the entertainment industry. It was clear from the very beginning.