Fancy dunks come pretty easy to Alfred “Boogie” Chin. But navigating life’s challenges, especially when faced with big decisions, isn’t as natural for him. In the basketball drama BOOGIE, Chin, played by Taylor Takahashi, is a high school student with hopes of beating all the odds to make it to the NBA. But first, he must figure out the game of life, which includes feuding parents, a girlfriend, rivals on the court, and his own internal struggles.
We spoke to Takahashi about the movie, and he explained his approach to the character. “For me with Boogie it was just like seeing how much home life can affect your out-of-home life and what you take with you — and how you need to be open and willing with people that are there to try to help,” Takahashi said.
We also spoke to Taylour Paige, who plays Eleanor, who starts dating Boogie as he tries to sort out his future. Paige is a force of nature, and her strong presence can be felt right away. “I just loved how self-possessed and assured Eleanor was, especially at that age," Paige told us. "That was definitely not my story, not my journey."
“I'm still figuring it out now and I’m well older than [Eleanor]. I just appreciated her self-assurance and her values and also how clear she was with what she saw in Boogie and in herself.”
BOOGIE also features the only acting performance from Bashar Jackson, aka the late rapper Pop Smoke. He plays Monk, Boogie's basketball rival. Pop Smoke died in February 2020 after being shot during a home invasion. His castmates reflect on what it was like working with him.
“I just think like, he was so alive, he still feels very much alive. He was just like, we would play music, he’d start dancing, he’s just a bright light,” Paige said.
"He has a natural lure and attraction," Takashi added. "He was just a star. Literally a star. And you wouldn’t know it because he wouldn’t tell you he’s a star. He was just kind of like any other 20-year-old kid. But he grinded, he worked, he was just fun to be around and to have him attached to this movie and part of this movie I think is really really special.”
The film’s director Eddie Huang also had nothing but loving words for Jackson. “It’s a blessing. It really is. You know like, I never met anyone like Pop, I never will meet anyone like Pop. He’s the most talented person I’ve been able to work with and that’s no disrespect to anyone. I think the other actors feel the same way. We all miss him.”
Huang is the real star of the team. He not only directed the film, but also wrote the script and played a role. He talked about the importance of BOOGIE dropping in 2021. “I think Asians are a huge part of this larger movement that Black people are leading," he said, "and I think that there is a little bit of a gap between our communities that we can bridge, we can bridge and it’s honestly, it should not be that difficult. We have a lot in common. We have a lot of similar problems and a lot of similar interests, and I think BOOGIE doesn’t talk about those things in a political way or a hashtag way. The approach BOOGIE takes is to invite you into our homes.”
Check out our full interview with the stars and director of BOOGIE:
BOOGIE opens on March 5!
All images courtesy of Focus Features.