On Monday night, NBA star Stephen Curry found himself facing a different kind of full-court press — in the form of a mass of reporters lined up on the red carpet at Sundance Film Festival for the world premiere of the new documentary “Underrated,” which chronicles his life and career.
In a lucky bit of scheduling, Curry had the night off from NBA play — it’s mid-season for the reigning NBA Finals MVP and his team, the Golden State Warriors — so he flew into Park City, Utah to join the filmmakers behind the doc, including director Peter Nicks and producers Ryan Coogler, Erick Peyton and Sean Havey, at its premiere.
The highly anticipated documentary played for a packed house at the Eccles and, before the screening, Curry recalled the first time he watched the finished film, pressing play on a screener in the wee hours of the morning following a game.
“I’d seen an earlier version of it,” Curry told Variety on the red carpet. “But to see everything that we’ve poured into this film — the memories and experiences I’ve had in my life but also at Davidson and my journey there — sitting in my house watching it on a big screen, by myself with a bowl of popcorn and a nice little drink on the side, it was an emotional roller coaster.”
He continued: “Going down memory lane, hearing the stories, and just the way the film comes together through everybody’s vantage points, it touches every emotion. It’s more than just sports fans, basketball fans, it goes beyond that. I’m very proud of it.”
Curry and Peyton, who serves as chief creative officer of the NBA star’s production company Unanimous Media, approached Coogler, Nicks and the Proximity team with the idea for a documentary. “Underrated” chronicles Curry’s rise to prominence when Davidson went on an unprecedented run during March Madness in 2008, which the filmmakers juxtapose with the Warriors’ unlikely road to the NBA championship during the 2021-2022 season. The film kicks off the company’s first-look deal with A24 and is set to debut on Apple TV+.
When Curry appeared on Variety’s cover in 2018, he teased that proper acting roles might be in his future. “If that opportunity ever came along, I’d definitely jump for it,” Curry said at the time.
Now, four years later, Curry confirmed that he’s still angling for the right opportunity.
“Hopefully I get to not only inspire through a film like ‘Underrated,’ but an opportunity to be in front of the camera in some way, shape or form and expand that skill set,” Curry said when asked to name his dream role. “I feel like I could hopefully check that box off and do something really cool — maybe it’s got a comedic angle, I feel like the world is my oyster there. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we see that.”
Now that he’s professionally partnered with Coogler’s Proximity, could a role in the next “Black Panther” movie be in the works?
“You said it, not me,” Curry laughed when Variety made the suggestion. (We made the pitch to Coogler too, who replied jovially, “Oh wow, I think it’s ‘No comment’ there.”)
The question came up again during the Q&A following the screening, when audience member Kolby Mac (host of the “Minorities Report” podcast) asked if the team-up might be possible.
“If we can shoot it in the summer and find a nice role for me in that universe — absolutely,” Curry replied as the crowd laughed along. “You put the pressure on, and we’ll see what he says.”
It seems like the ball’s firmly in Coogler’s court.
Curry was also joined at the premiere event by his wife Ayesha Curry, his mother Sonya Curry, former Davidson basketball coach Bob McKillop and Curry’s close friend and former teammate Jason Richards, all of whom appear in the documentary. Unlike him, though, they were walking into the theater blind.
“I’m very nervous,” Sonya Curry admitted. “They came and interviewed us in so many different situations, so I’m worried about that, because I can say stuff and I don’t know what they captured. But I’m actually very excited that the world will get to really, really see Stephen. Like, there’s been so many other interviews, but you’re going to get to see Stephen, see Davidson, people who weren’t really seen.”
McKillop also shared his excitement about seeing the finished film, crediting Nicks for the “genuine sense of care” he exhibited while making the film and for being “extraordinary with the way he elicited answers from us.”
The news of the documentary came by surprise, with Curry calling his mother and coach once the deal was done. But McKillop wasn’t really shocked that his former star player kept the news under wraps.
“Steph’s not somebody that gets on a loudspeaker, and says, ‘Hey, look at me.’ Steph’s not a ‘Look at me’ guy; That’s why he’s such a great leader,” McKillop said of Curry. “He says ‘Don’t look at me, follow me.’”
Sonya Curry also reflected on the film’s title, ”Underrated,” explaining that, to her, that word — which has often been applied to her son’s career — simply means “undervalued.”
“People just see the outside, they just see what they see in that moment,” she shared. “They have no clue what’s inside and the value that what’s in here carries. What’s inside us — our souls — is the most important thing about who we are and what we’re going to do.”
Before the premiere, Nicks and the producers of “Underrated” sat down at the Variety Studio, presented by Audible, to detail the making of the documentary and explain how they captured the highs and lows of Curry’s career, culminating in the Warriors’ comeback season. Watch the full interview in the video above.