She has faced off hordes of rabid zombies in The Walking Dead, and fought for mankind’s future across space and time in Star Trek: Discovery, but nothing has quite prepared actress Sonequa Martin-Green for her upcoming confrontation with… iconic cartoon characters in yet another famous notch on her already impressive resume – Space Jam: A New Legacy.
“I just can’t believe it still to this day,” said Martin-Green in an exclusive video interview with Geek Culture, of her role as the wife of basketball legend, LeBron James in the sequel to the 1996 cult favourite, Space Jam, which starred legendary basketball Hall of Famer, Michael Jordan.
“What I’ve done before, it’s usually gritty and intense and raw. And now here, I am doing this melding of sci-fi and family and I’ve just never done it before. It was kind of like having to find this brand new pair of shoes that I’ve never put on before and having to put them on and get comfortable. But once I did, it was so much fun,” noted the 36-year-old star.
After two decades, the Space Jam franchise finally adds a standalone sequel that sees Martin-Green play the role of Kamiyah James, the matriarch and wife to NBA superstar LeBron James.
Wait, isn’t that Savannah Brinson?
It’s a movie silly, where characters meet classic Warner Bros cartoon characters including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Yogi Bear, Fred Flintstone, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, and more, so while Lebron James plays himself, Martin-Green’s character, Kamiyah, is not directly based on James’ real-life wife Savannah, though Kamiyah does play a rather significant role in the movie.
She leads the James family and is the glue that holds the family unit together, which is especially important to the actress that Kamiyah isn’t treated as an athlete’s wife on the sidelines. Whilst Space Jam: A New Legacy sticks to its courts and remains a basketball-focused movie, it places a new emphasis on family.
“The James family takes up a lot of space in the story in the best way. It’s a cornerstone of the story and their dynamic and how they operate and how they navigate in this world. And of course, it’s a successful family. You have these two leaders, co-helming this family,” shared Martin-Green.
“I love the character of Kamiyah for that. I love that you see just how integral she is, and how this family wouldn’t be what it is without her. That is an element that is explored in a way that we don’t see in the original.”
Like many folks growing up in the 90s, the original Space Jam has earned a special place in the actress’ heart. The first outing was revolutionary as it melded 2D animated characters and live-action on screen – a rarity during that time period, joining the likes of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) in its effort to blend real and reel life.
The original saw Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan and the beloved LooneyTunes characters play a game of classic basketball against a group of aliens, who called themselves Nerdlucks, and later on Monstars.
In Space Jam: A New Legacy, however, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James takes lead and teams up with the same beloved characters against villainous artificial intelligence Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle), and his young son Dom (Cedric Joe) in a video-game match of basketball. Martin-Green finds that the standalone sequel is fitting for the new generation of viewers whilst still retaining childhood nostalgia for 90s kids.
“The original is a classic now and it was such a big deal in my home. I loved that movie and grew up on that movie so being able to be a part of the sequel, and especially the sequel that is really doing it justice, in my opinion, I think it was modernized to perfection,” shared the actress.
“I think it has all those things that you want that bring you back to your childhood but it also has all these things that you can latch on to in this present day in 2021. That’s what makes me so excited and proud to bring it to this new generation because I know that people today, youth and adults will be able to latch on to it.”
Space Jam: A New Legacy releases in cinemas on 15 July 2021.