90th Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

SPEECH BY: Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant


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Q. Kobe, hello.  Look at the number.  81.  Congratulations.  Congratulations. 
A. (Kobe Bryant)  Thank you. 

Q. After winning five NBA championships, now holding an Oscar, how do you feel? 
A. (Kobe Bryant)  It's a ‑‑ it's ‑‑ I feel better than winning the championship, to be honest with you.  I swear I do.  It's ‑‑ it's, you know, growing up as a kid, I dreamt of winning championships, you know, and working really hard to make that dream come true, but then like to have something like this seemingly come out of left field, you know, and like ‑‑ I heard a lot of people telling me when I started writing and they would ask me, "What are you going to do when you retire?"  And I'd say, "Well, I want to be a writer; I want to be a storyteller," and I got a lot of, "That's cute.  That's cute.  You'll be depressed when your career is over, and you'll come back to playing," you know.  And I got that a lot.  And so, to be here right now and to have like a ‑‑ like a sense of validation is, dude, this is ‑‑ this is crazy, man.  It's crazy. 
A. (Glen Keane)  Not only that, after ‑‑ after the win, you don't have to sit in a tub of ice, right? 
A. (Kobe Bryant)  I know.  Yeah, that's true.  That's true. 

Q. We actually met at the White House, at the opening of the African American Museum. 
A. Yes.

Q. You were telling me about this career.  Talk to us about how different a skill it is, what's harder about it, what's easier about it, and what have you learned, and what's next. 
A. (Kobe Bryant)  Well, I think the hardest part about it is, you know, in playing basketball, the hardest thing to do is to get out of the way of yourself.  Right?  Try to disassociate, you know, any sense of ego that you have to be able to perform.  In writing, it feels like you have to get in a deeper connection with yourself and better understand the fears and insecurities and things that may be going on below the surface, so that, in turn, you can better communicate those.  And so, those are really the two major distinctions between playing and writing or creating. 

Q. What's next? 
A. (Kobe Bryant)  More.  More.  John Williams, it just sounds crazy to even say that, but after he scored the film, he ‑‑ he looked at me and Glen goes, "Okay.  That was way too short.  You got to give me something longer."  And I was like, "Oh, oh, oh, okay.  We're working on it.  We're trying." 

Q. Obviously you've won championships, Olympic gold medals and now this.  I want to know, you talked about this meaning more to you, but at the same time can you talk about the struggles that you may understand now about someone who's achieved fame trying to find a new outlet for their talents?  And, obviously, you feel you found something here.  Would you like to make a feature film one day? 
A. (Kobe Bryant)  Yeah.  We've ‑‑ we've actually been hard at work over the last two years focusing on novels, and we've been able to create five novels, each novel going out in a series of five books.  And we look forward to bringing that to the market within the next couple years.  But, you know, the hardest thing for athletes to do is when you start over, you really have to quiet the ego and you have to ‑‑ you have to begin again.  You have to be a learner all over again.  You have to learn the basics of things.  And, you know, that's really the hardest part.  So my advice to athletes is to first and foremost find the thing that you love to do.  You know, I wake up in the morning, I can't wait to write.  I can't wait to get to the studio, you know.  So when you find the thing that you love to do, then everything else tends to make sense. 

Q. I want to ask you about how much this project puts you out of your comfort zone, and what was it like working with John Williams?
A. (Kobe Bryant)  All of it put me out of my comfort zone.  My daughter gave me the best piece of advice.  I was a little worried about turning this into a film.  I'd never done that ‑‑ something like that before.  And we're in a house and we're talking about it as a family, and my little 11‑year‑old, Gianna, goes, "Well, Dad, you always tell us to go after our dreams, so man up."  She's 11.  "Man up."  So I had to man up and go for it. 
And then working with John was incredible.  You know, John speaks about music as if there ‑‑ they ‑‑ each key has its own soul.  And it was amazing to sit with John and to sit with Glen throughout this entire process and hear the same attention to detail that we each have for our craft.  It's just ‑‑ it's just an amazing experience to be able to work with John.  I can't even ‑‑ the guy's like ‑‑ he's a real life Obi‑Wan Kenobi to me, you know.
A. (Glen Keane)  John had written the score.  He's, what, 85 years old?  And wrote the whole thing out by hand, in pencil.  Just like the film itself is in pencil.  He's an old‑school craftsman, and with 80 instruments, he wrote that.  And the day that we were recording it, he was like this little kid, just so energized.
A. (Kobe Bryant)  Super charged.
A. (Glen Keane)  What is going on with John? 
A. (Kobe Bryant)  He gave me a hug, almost knocked me over.  I was like, "Damn, I know I've been retired, but I haven't been retired that long, man."  He almost knocked me over. 
A. (Glen Keane)  And he stood up in front of the orchestra, and Kobe and I sat there and I suddenly realized he's never heard the music.  He's just been hearing it in his head and he wrote it with 80 instruments and recording it, and he lifted his arms and it was this beautiful score, the score that you hear.  And Kobe ‑‑ Kobe wanted to shout, and I was like, "The red light." And when it was done, John turns to us and says, "I promise you it's going to get better." 
A. (Kobe Bryant)  Man, I thought we were done.  I thought we were done.  And John was incredible, man. 

Q. I saw this at the Tribeca Film Festival under EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg shorts.  It was impressive and amazing. 
A. (Kobe Bryant)  Thank you. 

Q. You're very welcome.  Now, a lot of people talk about their heroes, but I have a question for you:  Can you share the heroes in your life?
A. (Kobe Bryant)  Oh, yeah.  That's ‑‑ you know, when I had the idea of starting a studio ‑‑ I like cold calling people.  And so, the first person I called was Oprah.  And I didn't understand the business at all, as you can imagine, but I ‑‑ like I loved writing, so I wanted to build a studio.  So I called Oprah, and she was very gracious enough to spend about an hour and some change on the phone with me walking me through every step of the way of how she built Harpo from day one.  And I cannot thank her enough for that.  She's a mentor then, a mentor now.  Shonda Rhimes is absolutely amazing and I was ‑‑ she opened up the door for me to go down to Shondaland and sit in the creative room, writers' room, and be on set.  And so when you have mentors like that in your life, you know, it's ‑‑ everything tends to work itself out.  You just continue to learn from the best of the best of the best.  So those are my ‑‑ those are two. 

Q. Big win for me. 
A. (Kobe Bryant)  That's awesome.

Q. You referenced the "shut up and dribble" comments in your acceptance speech.  Why did you do that?  And what do you think LeBron's approach to handling politics and discussing them, which is so different from your hero, Michael Jordan's, approach? 
A. (Kobe Bryant)  Well, man I think everybody must approach things as if, you know, from their position of whatever is comfortable to ‑‑ you know, for them.  I think for us, not just as athletes, but as just people in general, we have the ability to speak up for what it is that we believe in.  Whether you're a professional athlete or not, whether you're an actor or not, you still have the ability to speak up for what it is that you believe in.  And ‑‑ and as well as people have the right to criticize it.  I mean, this is ‑‑ this is a democracy that we live in.  That's what makes America beautiful.  So...



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