Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller says NBA superstar Michael Jordan was "like a vampire" during the making of Space Jam, the 1996 feature film blending live-action with animation to team Jordan with Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes stars, because of his exhaustive filming and training schedule. Episode eight of ESPN documentary The Last Dance, aired Sunday, touched on Jordan's time making Space Jam, revealing rare behind-the-scenes footage from the production of what would become a cultural phenomenon and the highest-grossing basketball film of all time.
Jordan prepared for Space Jam by training in a domed and fully-equipped basketball court on set stipulated by Jordan's contract with Warner Brothers, nicknamed the "Jordan Dome" by director Joe Pytka. Jordan recalled, "I said look, I need to practice, I need a facility where I can work out. [They said], 'Oh don't worry about that. We can build you that.' And sure enough, when we got out there, it was all set up."
Filming on the movie, which also starred Bill Murray and Wayne Knight, ran Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with Jordan taking a two-hour workout in the middle of the day. Jordan and other NBA players would then spend another three hours in the Jordan Dome — leaving Jordan just precious few hours before he was due back on set early in the morning.
Those games were "some of the best games," Miller says in The Last Dance. "There were no officials, so you were calling your own fouls. So it was a little more rugged and raw. I don't know how he did it. I don't know how he had the energy to film all day and then still play three hours. I mean, we would play until like 9 or 10 at night, and he still had to get weightlifting in, and his call time was like at 6 or 7 in the morning."
"So I don't know how [he was doing it]," Miller added. "This dude was like a vampire, for real."
A 25-years-later sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy, will team Bugs, Daffy, Tweety and other Looney Tunes characters with NBA superstar LeBron James. The film, directed by Malcolm D. Lee (Girls Trip, Night School) and produced by James and Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, also stars Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek: Discovery) and Don Cheadle (Avengers: Endgame).
Space Jam: A New Legacy takes to the court July 16, 2021.