August 21, 2012

On screen, star's role a natural for Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant isn't thunderstruck by a new adventure.

DALLAS -- Practically everything Kevin Durant has touched this year has turned into gold.

In February, the Oklahoma City Thunder forward was named a starter in the NBA All-Star Game. In April, he finished the month by winning his third consecutive NBA scoring title.

By June, Durant had led the Thunder to the NBA Finals for the first time. And just last week the former University of Texas All-American was the leading scorer for the U.S. Olympic team that earned the gold medal in London.

So what has Durant done for an encore?

The five-year NBA veteran has one of the leading roles in a Warner Brothers movie, Thunderstruck, that will be released to the public Friday. To hear the actors in the movie tell it, the silky-smooth Durant saunters around the set as though he's been acting for years.

"In the scenes themselves I've got to say it was like working with a professional who's been working for 15 years," actor Jim Belushi said Tuesday during a press junket at the Ritz Carlton. "He just slid right into it like it was second nature to him.

"I usually change the dialogue in every take -- not creatively, but it's just because I can't remember my lines. And Kevin just rolled with it."

Durant stepped right into the middle of the movie as if he was flying on the right wing of a three-on-one fast break.

"He impressed me with how well he knew his lines," actor Brandon T. Jackson said. "He knew every line back and forth like it was easy for him, like it was second nature.

"It was really cool to actually work with somebody that's cool on screen and off screen."

This is Durant's first time dabbling in the movie industry. And it's not anything he had on his bucket list.

"The funny thing about it is drama was one of my classes when I was a senior in high school, and I hated my drama class and my drama teacher, for some reason," Durant said. "She'd be really proud of me today if she saw the movie.

"I haven't been back [home to Washington, D.C.] in a while. I'm sure if I go, I'm going to run into her and I'll probably give her a DVD of the movie."

In the movie, Durant plays himself and stars as a basketball player who switches talents with a 16-year-old fan.

In essence, Durant is consistently having the kind of awful shooting nights opponents wish he had when they play the Thunder.

And how did one of the NBA's more prolific shooters prepare to repeatedly turn in one awful game after another?

"I've missed so many shots in my lifetime, I've played so bad so many times I know what it looks like," Durant said, laughing. "I just tried to make it look natural on camera, made it look real.

"But I've been missing shots before in my life so it wasn't anything different. I just recalled some of those bad games I had and tried to re-enact it."

John Whitesell, director of Thunderstruck, said casting Durant in one of the lead roles was easy.

"He had great rapport with everybody immediately," Whitesell said. "I think all the actors you'll ask will say that he was really incredibly easy to work with and very flexible and really good at improvising."

Even Durant's mother, Wanda Pratt, had a small role in the movie as a cheerleader.

But she was more appreciative of the work performed on the screen by her son.

"When I watched him I was surprised at how well he had done on the set," Pratt said. "And when I saw the movie, it just was so surreal to me that this is my son in a major motion picture starring himself.

"I feel like I want to cry now, but I won't. I cried at the Olympics, too. I've been crying all year."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @dwainprice

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