Jason Clarke to Star in HBO's Lakers Drama 'Showtime'

The actor will play NBA legend Jerry West in the drama about the team in the 1980s.
Francois G. Durand/WireImage; Ken Levine/ALLSPORT
Jason Clarke (left), Jerry West

Adam McKay's HBO pilot about the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers has found its first castmember.

Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, HBO's upcoming Catherine the Great) will play NBA legend Jerry West in Showtime, which McKay (Succession, Vice) is directing and executive producing.

The pilot is based on Jeff Pearlman's book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. HBO describes the pilot as "a fast-break series chronicling the professional and personal lives of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, one of sports’ most revered and dominant dynasties — a team that defined its era, both on and off the court."

West was a 14-time NBA All-Star during his playing career with the Lakers and coached the team for three seasons in the late 1970s before becoming its general manager in 1982. Clarke will play him as the cantankerous tortured genius of basketball, who ought to be the perfect man to build the Lakers into a dynasty — if only he can get past his own worst enemy: Jerry West.

Showtime is the first project for McKay after he and longtime producing partner Will Ferrell went their separate ways. The project comes from McKay's currently unnamed new company; he executive produces with partner Kevin Messick, writer Max Borenstein (AMC's The Terror, Godzilla: King of the Monsters), Jim Hecht (who will co-write the story) and Jason Shuman.

The show will not lack for outsized characters, as the 1980s Lakers had personalities to spare in the form of players like Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and Kurt Rambis; coach Pat Riley; and team owner Jerry Buss, along with West.

"Jeff Pearlman's book and Max Borenstein's script of the story of the Showtime Lakers really knocked me over," McKay said when the pilot was greenlit in April. "Sexism, racism, tragedy, redemption, no-look passes and a giant cultural shift in America ... I can’t wait to start filming."

Clarke's recent credits include First Man, Chappaquiddick and Mudbound, for which he earned a SAG Award nomination as part of the film's ensemble. He is repped by WME, Robert Stein Management and attorney Carlos Goodman.

Showtime is part of an HBO development slate that also includes a Game of Thrones prequel, which is fully expected to go to series. Corporate parent WarnerMedia has given HBO a mandate to increase originals, both for the on-air network and as the linchpin of the forthcoming streaming platform HBO Max.

Among the HBO series set to debut in the near future are adaptations of Watchmen (from Damon Lindelof) and His Dark Materials (a co-production with the BBC); Armando Iannucci's space comedy Avenue 5; J.J. Abrams' sci-fi drama Demimonde; and Industry, from Lena Dunham.