Giannis Antetokounmpo stated, “Disney approached us around 2018 giving us the opportunity to share our story with the world. And, we came together as a family. We decided that it was something that we wanted to do. I think our story is very inspiring. A lot of people gonna learn things about us that they’ve never heard before. And we really enjoyed the process. So when we came together, we decided that this was the right time to do it because we knew that eventually, we were going to have to do it. Our story is such an amazing story about where we started from and where we at right now. And everybody talks about us, about me, Thanasis, Kostas and Alex and Francis, but they always leave out our parents you know, my dad and my mom. So, we knew that one day we gonna tell the world who the real heroes of this story are and our journey. So, when we came together in 2018 and we sat down as a family and said, we told ourselves that this is the right time to share to the world why we are here, and who gave us the opportunity to sit in these chairs that we sit in today, which is my parents.
The family talks about their favorite moments in the film
“We were very excited to watch the movie, but at the same time, you know you’re gonna get emotional. You know your history and your journey. But, once you see it on the screen, now it’s a whole different case. I knew what I had been through in my life and what my brothers had been through in their life. I’m 27 right now with two kids. And then, I’m not gonna share the whole scene but they overcome the difficulty in that scene. But and then seeing them walking together in the sunset. For me that was amazing. Obviously, because our dad’s not here no more. But just seeing that there was a story, there was a journey before we were even here, that they were just two of them trying to figure out things. Trying to figure out where they’re gonna go, what the next move is going to be. It was tough for me. But after that, they had us and the rest was history.” – Kostas Antetokounmpo
“There’s a scene in the movie where we’re all outside and we’re basically selling stuff. The police show up and all the stuff and run and Thanasis grabs Alex. We had to pack him up and they run and my mom grabs me or something like that. And that, like, I remember that happening a couple of times. We had to dash really quick out of there. It touched me because it shows that we will do anything for each other. Like, I literally remember, Thanasis picking me up to run away from something or something like that. So, that scene really touched me.” – Francis Antetokounmpo
“I would say that just seeing the whole thing being acted out. Obviously, we knew a lot of the story behind it. I knew what my brother Kostas went through, what Giannis and Thanasis went through. And a lot of the times I was there, but just seeing the stuff that my mom and my dad went through, just seeing it acted out, rather than just hearing it and hearing the stories about it, I think was very touching for us. And it was a new thing, so I think that’s what probably touched me the most.” – Alex Antetokounmpo
“When I watched the movie, I was so excited. At the same time, I was emotional. And I remember where our family came together to pray. I remember that moment. It brought me to tears, the part where my husband is not here anymore. Then I cried. But it was emotional. And I remember when we all got up together and prayed to God.” – Veronica Antetokounmpo
“I think they covered everything but I’ll say that, for me, you know how you tell your kids, like, “We came from nothing and you have to understand how we grew up,” and now you actually get to see it on the screen. It is something unbelievable. And I know it’s my story and everything, but then you see so many things and I wish, like, everybody has this feeling after the movie, you just feel blessed for what you have. You feel motivated for what you could become and what you can achieve in life. It’s powerful” – Thanasis Antetokounmpo
On keeping the film’s focus on family first and a sports movie second
“For me, the movie is a story of family first and a sports movie second. And actually, part of the challenge was how to maintain that family story, and not allow the sports aspect to overwhelm it. I think often it is the easiest way to have a classical structure of a sports movie. But when I write something, it has to be extremely personal. And the story of family was what spoke to me right at the beginning when I first came to it. I’m an Iranian, who was born in Wales, lived in Iran, grew up in England, and then made America my home. My parents were immigrants in the ‘80s, to England from Iran, and that sense of family, kept us together, against all odds, against everything. And that sense of being displaced and being far away from your roots, but yet building your roots. And also, that intergenerational, the relationship between Charles and Vera, but also the relationship of the four brothers towards their parents, but also towards the new identity they were forging and a new tomorrow that they were coming towards. That for me was the movie. And the sports was really the tool. It was the opportunity. It was the method by which, you know, pardon the pun, you can rise up. And so it was always a family movie, first and a sports movie second for me.” – Arash Amel
On being able to make this movie
“I’ve always followed this family. And by chance, I picked up a magazine, and the magazine said Disney was making a movie about their life. And I said to my agent, whatever you do, you got to get me in that room so that I tell Disney how I would make this film. Because I’ve dreamt about this film for six years as Arash has mentioned, in terms of immigration, and just in terms of inspiration. And to talk about the inspiration, I kept that magazine by my bedside. So every morning I wake up, I look at that magazine. Before I went to sleep I would look at that magazine. And I said I’m not taking this magazine away until I know they have another director. And I’m just so thankful not only to the family but to Arash for writing a beautiful script, the folks from Disney, Sean, Vanessa, Chaz, Bernie Goldmann, and this wonderful cast. The story is amazing. And what a privilege to be one of the people chosen to tell this story.” – Akin Omotoso
What made you want to sign up and be a part of this film?
“The thing for me that resonated immediately was the idea of the ability of the dream. To shine a light in really dark times. And you asked where I was in my career, in getting to read for this was right in the middle of the pandemic. It had been a while since I had been on a set. I wasn’t sure if I would get on a set again. And the thing about that time was that everything had to be incredibly intentional. You literally, not even [hyperbole?], literally, when you walk out the door, you’re making a decision on whether it’s worth your life. And I remember reading this script and it was one of those where the agency sent it. And you always, you know, do that quick, read a couple of pages, and then we’ll, you know, when we have time, we’ll get to the rest of it. And I couldn’t put it down. And it was one of those scripts that I think it was two, three a.m. when I was done, sobbing. And I read it all in one day. I had to. I couldn’t put it down, Arash. Thanks for that. I got no sleep that night. [LAUGH] But I immediately sent that email to my agents and I said I need to make this. And, you know, we’re sitting here in what some would call a city of dreams, you know? With a company that unabashedly celebrates dreams. With a group of people, I mean, I’m gonna cut this short because we need to hear the story from Ral and Uche. But dreamers. And we get to make this piece of filmmaking that is an inspiring hour for the family by an inspired family. And that drew me from the very beginning.” – Yetide Badaki
Rise is now streaming exclusively on Disney+