Rolling Out

How Stephen Bishop’s life connected with his role in the film ‘Finding Tony’

Stephen Bishop has lived through some of the same experiences as his character

Everyone loves a redemption story, and Stephen Bishop is spearheading that role in the film Finding Tony, as he is cast as Tony, a former NBA player who is suffering from the loss of his wife and unborn child, and is looking to coach a women’s college basketball team to a championship.

Bishop spoke with rolling out about his role and the rise of women’s basketball.

How were you able to tap into the role that you played?

As far as losing his wife, I don’t think anybody can really relate to that unless you’ve gone through that and I have not gone through that, thank God. But a lot of what Tony goes through in the film, I have lived through. I’ve lived through retiring from the professional sport when I didn’t want to retire. I’m a current coach of young men, high school seniors, juniors, and some freshmen in college. That’s kind of in the wheelhouse, but coaching a group of athletes is something that I think that the women have a few things that are different, obviously, but they’re athletes to the core, so you treat them with the same amount of love and push as you do with male athletes; you just have to navigate some different things as you’ll see in the film. A lot of it was very similar to what I already do, so I was able to plug my real-life experience into Tony and allow him to come to life.

The more challenging parts – the mental health, the alcoholism, the loss of my wife and unborn child – I was just trying to be empathetic, trying to feel what that loss might feel like, and go to the depths of that depression. I’ve had traumatic experiences in my life. I was going through a tough time in my life while we were filming Finding Tony. I had some raw emotions on the surface, and I was just fortunate enough to be able to let them live there just long enough to be able to capture Tony when he needed them to be there. It was challenging, but at the same time, a lot of it was in my comfort zone.

With the rise of women’s basketball today, how big was it to lean into that storyline in this film?

My daughter is only six years old but she’s playing soccer and I’m there watching her and going to her practices, so to see the rise of women’s sports just in time for this movie it’s obviously God’s timing but it’s perfect timing. It’s special because once I get this out and I can let my daughter see it she can see an example of a women’s team winning championships, she can see the hard work that they have to put in and she can see me in a coaching role with them, and I’m sure that’ll make her proud.

She asked me to coach her soccer team all the time. And I’m just like, “No, baby, I just want to watch. I don’t know that much about soccer to coach your team.” Plus, I had her brother in baseball, and I coached his entire Little League career, so this time I just want to watch. But I think it’s great timing, obviously. Even when we shot it, it wasn’t as hyped as the NCAA Women’s championships. They were so highly watched right before we’re coming out. I think that’s going to be a blessing for us. Like I said, God’s timing is impeccable.

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