A basketball player's father must try to convince him to go to a college so he can get a shorter sentence.
Spiel des Lebens (1998) Online
Tells the story of Jesus Shuttlesworth, the most sought after high school basketball prospect in the nation. Jesus and his dream to make it to the big ranks in professional basketball are overshadowed by his father, Jake, who is spending his life in prison for killing Jesus' mother.
|Cast overview, first billed only:|
|Denzel Washington||-||Jake Shuttlesworth|
|Ray Allen||-||Jesus Shuttlesworth|
|Milla Jovovich||-||Dakota Burns|
|Rosario Dawson||-||Lala Bonilla|
|Hill Harper||-||Coleman 'Booger' Sykes|
|Zelda Harris||-||Mary Shuttlesworth|
|Ned Beatty||-||Warden Wyatt|
|Joseph Lyle Taylor||-||Crudup|
|Bill Nunn||-||Uncle Bubba|
|Michele Shay||-||Aunt Sally|
|Thomas Jefferson Byrd||-||Sweetness|
|Roger Guenveur Smith||-||Big Time Willie|
|John Turturro||-||Coach Billy Sunday|
|Lonette McKee||-||Martha Shuttlesworth|
Ray Allen and Spike Lee have had conversations about having a de facto sequel to this film, with Allen saying he would envision Jesus Shuttlesworth nearing the end of a successful pro career (much like Allen himself). As part of his expression of interest in such a project, when Miami Heat players were allowed to wear special jerseys with nicknames or initials as part of an NBA promotion, Allen's jersey said "J. Shuttlesworth" on the back--an image Spike Lee immediately and happily posted to Instagram.
Spike Lee originally wanted Kobe Bryant to play the part of Jesus Shuttlesworth. While Kobe liked the script, and the idea of working with Spike, he had just finished his rookie year in the NBA (the 1996-97), and had shot several airballs in a brutal playoff loss by the Lakers to the Utah Jazz, and planned a workout program that would help him maintain his strength through the longer NBA seasons (a major adjustment, as Kobe went straight from high school to the pros). So he told Spike the summer of 1997 was too important to spend time making the film, and Spike promptly sought out Ray Allen, who quickly accepted the lead role.
Filmed in 23 days.
Spike Lee's first film to open at number one at the U.S. box-office.
Hill Harper portrays a teenager in high school in the film. At the time, Harper was 31 years old.
The shoes that Jake purchases at the store, are the Air Jordan 13s.
In addition to the multiple coaches and players appearing as themselves, three of Jesus' teammates were played by NBA players at the time of the movie's release, Travis Best, Walter McCarty, and John Wallace. Another NBA player, Rick Fox, played Chick, who shows Jesus around Tech University. As of 2014, Fox has quite a bit of acting roles, but this movie is the only screen roles for Best and McCarty, while Wallace only has one other acting role, in another Spike Lee movie Bamboozled (2000).
The first major motion picture written-and-directed by Spike Lee not to have a performance from him in it.
For the scene where Jesus and Jake play for the letter of intent, the original script called for Jesus to win 15-0. However, Spike Lee encouraged the actors to play for real. When the contest between Ray Allen and Denzel Washington began, Denzel scored four straight points as the crew whooped and applauded from the sidelines. Allen was furious, and proceeded to score ten points in a row, at which point, Spike Lee declared Allen had won, and the scene (and game) was finished.
The two girls Jesus has a threesome with in the Tech University dorm room are played by real-life porn stars Chasey Lain and Jill Kelly.
Both of the schools Jesus narrows his choices down to, Big State and Tech University, are fictional.