Secrets From the 'Trainwreck' Set: LeBron James Says No to Acting Lessons, Still Delivers
James appears alongside Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in the Judd Apatow-directed production.
If LeBron James has an Achilles heel, it’s the heat.
Even the basketball god, who boasts two world championships, has famously struggled in the past when the mercury rises, namely Game 1 of the 2014 NBA finals when the air conditioning malfunctioned inside the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
But on the set of Trainwreck last summer — James hit turnaround jump shots with ease in a climate-controlled building in Basketball City, overlooking the East River on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Outside, the thermometer read 83 degrees, but felt more oppressive on the humid afternoon. Barely recognizable at the time thanks to a new Paleo-sculpted physique, James was filming scenes from the Judd Apatow-helmed comedy. The four-time NBA MVP plays himself, a character who happens to be the best friend of Bill Hader’s character. It was one of the final three days of shooting and also one of the most complicated. The scene called for some 500 extras, including an elaborate number with the Knicks City Dancers, and James held his own with actress Amy Schumer.
"Don't hurt my boy," James admonished Schumer. "He won't hurt you. He's a hero." Apatow did another take. "Cut the crap Amy," said James, slightly wooden, but light years ahead of the typical athlete trying to tackle comedy — a stark juxtaposition to the pageant of groan-worthy cameo performances turned in by superstars on the old HBO series Arli$$. "Seriously, don't hurt him. He won't hurt you. He's a hero." Again, "I know women. My guy’s been hurt before."
What may come as a surprise is that James eschewed acting lessons before taking on the Trainwreck role, which required five days on set. "He’s been in front of the cameras since he was 18," explained James’ business manager and childhood friend Maverick Carter. "He’s very comfortable in front of the camera. He didn’t need an acting coach."
With each take, the lines changed slightly, but that’s Apatow’s improvisational style. Schumer, too, seemed to be deviating from a set script. But it’s clear that the sports icon was prepared and hit his lines and shots (the script called for him to rev up the crowd with some basketball theatrics) with nuclear-clock precision. Wearing a blue cardigan and white sneakers, James was there to deliver. On the Trainwreck set, the heat can’t touch him.
Universal's Trainwreck opened Thursday night, which is eyed for a mid-$30 million debut.