(June 10, 2022) NEW YORK, NY – On Friday evening, the SHOWTIME Sports “McENROE” made its World Premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.
The 103 minute film is an intimate portrait of both his tennis career and his personal life.
Tennis Panorama News caught up with both the subject John McEnroe and the film’s director and screen writer Barney Douglas on the red carpet of the SVA Theatre in Chelsea.
Tennis Panorama News: How did it feel to be the subject of a film and how did they approach you and what type of input did or didn’t you have.
John McEnroe: A lot of people were not born during my glory years so to speak. Maybe from that standpoint, they sort of contrast what’s happening now to what was happening then. It was a great time in tennis.
I want it (film) to be about my journey in tennis to where I am now and how it can be tough, family and things that go on with that. So it can relate to a lot of people. Once I convinced myself that hey are actually doing this, one of the directors got sick and then there was the pandemic and what’s going to happen. something that could take a year takes four years. sometimes you are going to wonder if it’s going to happen, but once it does, I’m a believer in making it the best it could possible be, so that’s what I have been trying to do.
I don’t have the ultimate say in what’s in there but I certainly have a say in what’s in there but I certainly can express my feelings.
Tennis Panorama News: What would you saw to people who are not tennis fans about the film and why they should see it?
John McEnroe: Obviously I would hope it would expand the way people think about tennis players, in that there’s issues and problems, is this the way they are, they are just like machines. So I think that that part of it would obviously be something that is important to show to people. Like there’s more to it then meets the eye. But there are a lot of things that aren’t even in it. they want to make something that’s 90 minutes or it could be two hours. It’s that same as like a book – you could have a book that’s 500 pages, then ends up being 350. You are alike maybe that’s better, maybe that isn’t. That’s beyond my pay grade a little bit.
Hopefully this is the best because it’s what happened.
Tennis Panorama News also talked to the director and screenwriter of the film Barney Douglas about how he became involved in the project and what was it like to deal with McEnroe.
Barney Douglas: the producer Victoria Barrel had secured the rights to John’s story and she approached me and said would you be interested in directing it.
I was not a big tennis aficionado. I knew the sport and understood it, but I think that gave me an advantage because I came at it looking at McEnroe the man and not the tennis player. so I tried to come at it at a different angle, really. He said yes and few years later here we are.
Tennis Panorama News: Some people call McEnroe challenging, what was the challenging part of working on this film and with him.
Barney Douglas: when I think of John I think of his authenticity and honesty – if didn’t like something or if wasn’t too happy about something, he would tell me and if he didn’t say that then I just carried on. It would be up to him to stop me basically. But also John is in that time of life that I think he’s mellowed. He wants to be the best in everything he does. He wants something that is challenging and it (film) is emotional. I actually found the process really good for me as a filmmaker. I learned a lot. I couldn’t be a doormat and he’s an iconic guy. If you go ego to ego that’s silly. I just tried to honest with him and stand my ground where it was necessary for the rest of the film.
Tennis Panorama News: What would you tell people who are not tennis fans about seeing the movie?
Barney Douglass: Well it starts with the tennis and ends with the man. I think that what you go in with, you get a sense of the world but you don’t need to know the points system, you need to know any of that to get a sense of the characters in that era, and then it develops into much more – second chance and how he learned to understand love. How he reckoned with relationships and things like that so much more a universal human story than just a sports story. and that’s what we really aimed for.
The documentary takes viewers inside the mind of one of the most controversial tennis players in the history of the sport as he traverses the streets of New York City over the course of a single night, retracing his life in previously unseen archival footage.
Here is a preview:
The documentary will be available on Friday, September 2nd on all streaming and on demand platforms for Showtime subscribers, before making its on-air debut on Sunday, September 4th at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The film will be released theatrically in the U.K. on Friday, July 15th.