Tiffany Haddish Didn't Know Who NBA Star Kyrie Irving Was on 'Uncle Drew' Set

In the comedy (out June  29), the five-time All-Star, who plays for the Boston Celtics, is aged up to take on the title role of a retired legend persuaded by Lil Rel Howery to compete in a tournament.
Quantrell Colbert
Tiffany Haddish in 'Uncle Drew'

In the comedy Uncle Drew (out June 29), five-time NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics is aged up to play the title role of a retired legend who’s persuaded by Lil Rel Howery to compete in a street tournament. Co-star Tiffany Haddish thought Irving was just some old guy.

“When I came to work the first day, they all took pictures with me and stuff,” says Haddish, referring to such hoops stars in the movie as Chris Webber and Reggie Miller. (The film also features Shaquille O’Neal, Lisa Leslie and Nick Kroll.) “I’m like, ‘Who are these motherfuckers?’ (Laughs.) I didn’t realize [Kyrie] was in costume. I was like, ‘Rel, Rel, what the fuck is goin’ on with his neck?’ He was like, ‘Tiffany, that’s Kyrie.’ I was like, ‘Who?’ ”

To her credit, Haddish explains that she stopped following basketball closely when she got married. “I stopped paying attention since 2008. 'Cause I was like, oh I gotta man. Then I got divorced, then I got really busy. So I don't pay attention to it, it ain't really my thing.”

What is her thing, though, is a good script, which is why she signed on for Uncle Drew. “I read the script and — this is kinda corny — but something about it makes me feel really good. It’s like Space Jam or something.” 

A version of this story first appeared in the June 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.