‘Winning Time’ actress Hadley Robinson talks playing Jeanie Buss

Hadley Robinson had a lot of studying to do when she landed the role of “legend” Jeanie Buss, the daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss, on the hit HBO series “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.”

“I didn’t know anything about basketball, which actually made it a lot more interesting because I like to learn new things,” Robinson told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published Wednesday.

“So it was kind of an adventure for me to learn about basketball, business and the ’70s. There was a lot to delve into.”

To emulate the current Lakers owner, Robinson, 27, said he read Buss’ “great” book, “Laker Girl,” which was published in 2010.

“It’s filled with a lot of diary entries, and she talks about her childhood, her relationship with her family members, and basketball, so that was really helpful. There are also so many podcasts where she loosens up a little bit and she opens up about her childhood and also owning the Lakers and her experience as a part of this team. So that was also a big help. And of course the [Jeff Pearlman] book, ‘Showtime’, is very well written”, he explained.

To look good, Robinson wore a prosthetic nose, colored (brown) contact lenses, a dark wig, and false nails, which she said was a “challenge” at first before getting used to her new manicure.

“We were filming for seven months, and I would come in once a week to put this nose on my face, so you get used to it,” he said. “It takes a long time in the saddle, but I got used to it pretty quickly. I couldn’t even feel the nose on my face at one point, but eye contact became difficult for me because in some scenes my eyes just stopped working. Everything around me became blurry and I couldn’t see. And especially when I had an emotional scene where I’m crying and wearing brown contacts and everything is tinted, it became difficult. But the nose was much easier.”

“Winning Time” shows Buss in her youth, going through the trials and tribulations of being the boss’s daughter, with John C. Reilly in the driver’s seat as the older Buss, who passed away in 2013. Early in the first season of the program. she, she often gets shunned by her teammates and the Lakers bosses.

Asked about Buss’ real-life success after dealing with critics from a young age, Robinson said, “Well, I think she recognizes her own privilege, being bequeathed to the team and being exposed to so much when she was young. Her father practically groomed her for this position. But she could also examine the obstacles she’s faced and the stigmas and sexism and tumultuous family relationships. And it wasn’t just the fact that she was the boss’s daughter; she was also very young. She was 19 years old. She was just a girl, and being a woman at that time had different implications. And her father, her being who she was, added even more pressure.

Hadley Robinson as Jeanie Buss in “Time to Win”
Hadley Robinson at the March 2, 2022 premiere of "winning time" In Los Angeles
Hadley Robinson at the premiere of “Winning Time” on March 2, 2022 in Los Angeles
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“There’s more of an inferiority complex because he wasn’t just a real estate mogul who owned the Lakers, but he was also a mathematical genius who built himself out of nothing. So having a father of that stature, who is so accomplished, I can’t imagine the pressure he would feel trying to fill those shoes.”

HBO recently renewed “Winning Time” for a second season, and Robinson said he would “absolutely” love the chance to play an older Buss.

“I think it would be very doable, and it’s all juicy. So I hope I can hit those things until [age] 35. That’s definitely the hope,” he said.

“Simply speaking from the perspective of the actor who plays Jeanie, I know where it’s going and there’s so much more to discover. We’ve seen a version of Jeanie, but his transformation is the most interesting part for me. And we haven’t even touched that yet. There is a physical transformation, but it is also who she is as a person, both in the workplace and in her life. So she’s got a long way to go, and I wasn’t too surprised because all the characters have big arcs to complete.”

Hadley Robinson with her "winning time" co-stars, John C. Reilly and Sally Field
Hadley Robinson with her “Winning Time” co-stars John C. Reilly and Sally Field
FilmMagic for HBO

Robinson had only been acting professionally for a few years before landing the role of Buss in “Winning Time,” opposite two-time Academy Award winner Sally Field, who plays Jessie Buss, Jerry’s mother.

“But I learned a lot from her. She’s so well prepared, but she’s also completely in the moment,” Robinson said of working with Fields. “So you can’t help but get carried away with her in the moment… I admired her a lot before we started shooting, so it was a real treat and a master class.”

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