Jack Harlow is the latest rap star to try his hand at acting, making his debut in Hulu’s White Men Can’t Jump remake — and director Calmatic thinks Harlow has a bright future on screen.
“No matter what he does, it doesn’t feel fake or forced,” the director told at the film’s Los Angeles premiere on May 11 of what won Harlow the part. “I think once he started acting and things got real on that end it was like, yo man, he’s doing his thing, this is special. I was telling him, ‘I think 10 years from now, you’re going to be Jack Harlow the actor who knows how to rap well,’ so hopefully that’s what it is.”
Harlow takes on Woody Harrelson’s role from the 1992 basketball classic, while Sinqua Walls plays the part originated by Wesley Snipes. To prepare, the actors were put through an extensive basketball boot camp, as Calmatic teased, “We definitely put Jack Harlow through the wringer. We were like, ‘Hey, man, you got to go train real quick.’ So he was training in between his tour dates and that all ended up being amazing. He came to the court ready to go, man. He killed it.”
Walls had similar praise for Harlow, noting that since it was the rapper’s first time acting, “if he needed me, I was there. We talked extensively but one of the things about him is he’s so naturally talented, he already has a lot of the things you can’t teach. And it was just amplifying that in those moments, and he did that.”
Though Walls was a basketball player growing up, he still went through the basketball training to work on his and Harlow’s on-the-court chemistry, explaining, “Jack knew when I was going to go to the basket or I knew when he was going to pull up for a jump shot. That was our frequency.”
Of the daunting task of reimagining the iconic film, Calmatic — who chose not to consult with any of the creative team from the original — said he was drawn to the focus on Los Angeles.
“I think a lot of people don’t consider L.A. a basketball place but me growing up here, I think L.A. has a lot to offer when it comes to basketball,” the director said. “It was just my opportunity to tell that real story in an authentic way that people can relate to. It was a dream come true.”
White Men Can’t Jump starts streaming on Hulu on Friday.