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Thunderstruck: Actor Taylor Gray, others talk about being on the job with Thunder star Kevin Durant

John Rohde catches up with actor Taylor Gray, director John Whitesell and producer Mike Karz to find out what working with Kevin Durant on “Thunderstruck” was like.
BY JOHN ROHDE Modified: August 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm •  Published: August 19, 2012


Plays 14-year-old Brian Newall, a clumsy kid trying to make his school's basketball team who idolizes Kevin Durant. A chance meeting mysteriously results in an exchange of their basketball talents. Gray previously starred in Nickelodeon's Bucket & Skinner's Epic Adventures.

What was it like working with Kevin Durant?

"He's the nicest, nicest guy there is. I can't stress that enough, and a great actor. I don't think everybody expected that, but he did a fantastic job."

Durant loses his shooting touch in the movie. Did he ever have trouble deliberately missing shots?

"He did. I remember the first day he actually had to miss. They had it set to make all these shots, and then he was supposed to start missing for a while. We had multiple days in a row where he was supposed to miss shots, but it was like impossible for him to miss. I'm like, 'Dude, I'll show you how to miss.' "

Your thoughts on the premiere being in Oklahoma City, just a couple blocks away from Chesapeake Energy Arena?

"I went to a couple of their games when we were shooting the movie and I feel like the whole state of Oklahoma comes to these games. … Everyone has their Kevin Durant jerseys on here (at the premiere). This is the best place to be right now."

They told Durant to just be himself in the movie. Is that easier said than done?

"They say the hardest character to act is yourself. If someone says, 'Just go be yourself,' that's a little weird. When you're being a character, you make very specific choices. When you're playing yourself, it's kind of confusing."

Did you help Kevin out with acting? Did he help you out with basketball?

"Both ways. When he'd come ask me about acting, I was just baffled because I'm like, 'You're Kevin Durant' That's kind of crazy."

You played high school basketball. How excited were you when you learned the part was yours?

"Oh, ecstatic. He's the biggest superstar in basketball, really. He's had so much success. It's amazing."


Had directed and produced more than 200 episodes of prime-time television, including "A Different World," "Coach," "Law & Order," "Roseanne," "Cosby," "Blossom," "The John Laroquette Show," "Damon," "Providence," "Jack & Jill" and "Grounded For Life." Movie credits include "Malibu's Most Wanted," "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son," "Big Mommas House 2," "Deck the Halls," and "Calendar Girl."

How do you turn a basketball star into an actor?

"The first thing you do if you're the director is you don't play him one-on-one, because then he's an advantage over you and he knows he can beat you. You've got to keep that a mystery. The second thing you do is you try to make him say, 'OK, I know what I'm doing. You know what you're doing. Let's see if we can help each other.' "

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