ESPN Films

Christian Laettner, Rob Lowe talk about working with ESPN on new 30 for 30 film

Former Duke basketball star Christian Laettner (l) spoke with SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm about his new 30 for 30 film I Hate Christian Laettner. (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)
Former Duke basketball star Christian Laettner (l) spoke with SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm about his new 30 for 30 film I Hate Christian Laettner. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

The new 30 for 30 film I Hate Christian Laettner (Sunday, 9 p.m. ET after Bracketology, ESPN) goes beyond the polarizing persona of one of the most controversial players in college basketball history to reveal his complete story.

When the top sports network calls and tells you they want to make a film about you, you say yes.
– Christian Laettner

Laettner made perhaps the most dramatic shot in the history of the NCAA basketball tournament. He’s the only player to start in four consecutive Final Fours and was instrumental in Duke winning two national championships. So why has Laettner been disliked so intensely by so many for so long?

Front Row asked Laettner – who visited ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. campus this week – his thoughts on the film, directed by Rory Karpf and executive produced and narrated by actor Rob Lowe.

What was it like to work with ESPN on telling your story?
When the top sports network calls and tells you they want to make a film about you, you say yes. Nothing in the film was really surprising to me because I lived it, but it was interesting sitting down for the interviews and reliving those years.

What aspect of the film did you like the most and why?
Hard to answer that in a brief way because I am not a movie critic. But I liked many things about the movie. There were parts where I got choked up and parts where I was cracking up and laughing. It is a movie about me – so I loved every second of it – except for the parts where people were saying they hate me.

What do you think about the title? How much does that bother you?
No, it doesn’t bother me because I understand how Rory was trying to tell the story and why it made for a clever and catchy way to draw people in. I had to explain the title to my family as they were initially concerned about it, but they came to understand why it was a hook.

Rob Lowe on what drew him to I Hate Christian Laettner

Actor Rob Lowe narrates I Hate Christian Laettner, a film he also executive produced. Lowe has worked with ESPN on offbeat projects previously but was particularly drawn to this film.

How did you come to be involved with the film?
I have always been a fan of both Laettner and Duke. I remember where I was when Christian hit “the shot.” My character from “The West Wing,” Sam Seaborn, went to Duke Law and today my son Matthew attends Duke.

I have always been fascinated with why we as sports fans need players and franchises to hate. My involvement with the film came from a discussion with the film’s director, Rory Karpf, about why people hate certain teams and players like the Yankees or Duke basketball.

Aside from this one, what is your favorite 30 for 30?
Very good question. Maybe The Band That Wouldn’t Die or Muhammad and Larry.

If you were to anchor SportsCenter, who would you co-anchor with and why?
Anyone who has less hair than I do!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw4isFCQJ-c

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