John McEnroe thought he had just signed up for another little cameo. But as he continued to read the script, he became more and more puzzled.
“How the hell did this happen?” he told himself.
The 62-year-old seven-time Grand Slam singles winner had casually agreed to narrate Mindy Kaling’s Netflix series: I have never, in a passing conversation with the executive producer at a Vanity Fair Oscar party. However, when McEnroe immersed himself in the script, he realized that his assignment had nothing to do with the sport that earned him fame. The tennis legend and commentator, who is currently calling the US Open on ESPN, would portray himself as the voiceover of a young high school student named Devi desperately trying to climb the social ladder and lose his virginity.
McEnroe was surprised by Kaling’s interest, but the show’s first-generation Indian-American protagonist, played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, and the now much calmer narrator have eerily similar personality types.
McEnroe and Devi share wild tempers. McEnroe, once nicknamed “Superbrat,” was known for his outbursts on the court, most famously when he yelled, “You can’t be serious,” at a Wimbledon referee for missing a line call in 1981. Devi has a similar outburst. , hitting a beaker on the ground after discovering that her classmate received a better grade on the test.
Throughout the series, McEnroe goes smoothly from a wise summary of Devi’s adventures to personal jokes that poke fun at himself and his tennis career. His role as storyteller is made even more poignant in a flashback scene from the first season in which Devi’s late father, Mohan, watches an old tennis match with his daughter and tells him that McEnroe is his all-time favorite. . (The game they watched together is from the 1984 Swedish Open, where McEnroe yells, “Answer my question. The question, you idiot!” To the chair umpire.)
I have never has aired 20 episodes since its premiere in April 2020. During the production of the second season, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, McEnroe worked alone, recording his scenes, which were released on July 15, only in a batch of Universal Studios.
The voice of the former world No. 1, of course, is recognizable to almost any tennis fan. Since retiring in 1994, McEnroe has scheduled television games for CBS, NBC, Tennis Channel, and ESPN. He has also periodically returned to the limelight with various cameos in Hollywood, including but not limited to, Check your enthusiasm, multiple appearances in 30 Rock and even a short stint as a game show host, The chair, on CNBC in 2004.
“The storytelling process is most appreciated, at least from my point of view, when you see the final product,” McEnroe said. “It’s not like while you’re doing it (you’re saying), ‘Oh my God! This is incredible!’ Or that you know it’s going to work, you really don’t know. That depends on Mindy and her team, what will end up happening. “
Now, leveraging the critical success momentum of I have never, which was renewed for a third season, McEnroe recently partnered with Netflix and Squarespace to create his own website promoting his storytelling work. The site contains a humorous reel of McEnroe’s best lines from the Kaling series, a fake audition in which he bravely tries to read Lady Whisteldown’s role on the Netflix show with a British accent. Bridgertonand even a work-to-order service to record your voicemail greeting. The website also contains a mockumentary that comically chronicles his rise as a broadcaster.
“I like to do things that have that kind of sense of fun and you can say (like), ‘Is he serious or is he not serious?’” McEnroe said. “So all of this came out of this, and I felt that hopefully it was a win-win for everyone, for Squarespace, as well as for Netflix and I have never, and finally, myself. It’s nice when you feel like you’re on the same page with people. “
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.