James Bingham: A Certain Swagger

January 25, 2022
The young West Australian actor was plucked out of nowhere for a crucial role in Apple TV+’s series Swagger, based on the high school experiences of basketball superstar Kevin Durant.

You have to tell us about your self-tape, what did you do in it? Did you show off any basketball skills? Did you use an American accent? Did someone help you with the self-tape?

“The audition was a monologue. I prepared for the audition with my acting coach Ali Roberts and we thoroughly analysed the script and played around with how I could do it. We broke it down and from that, it really helped me resonate with my character. I had to send through basketball footage of me playing in a game. The process took about 6 weeks and I had to use an American accent. I was lucky enough to receive a lot of help with preparation.”

Did you need extra help with the American accent once you landed the role? What about your basketball skills?

“There was an accent teacher on set for about a week before we started rehearsing, we just broke the script down and went through how I should say my lines. I would speak ‘American’ every day during filming and when we wrapped some people didn’t even know I was Australian!

“I trained [basketball] for about 5 weeks, 2 hours a day before leaving to the US. Once there, I also trained about 6-7 times a week during filming. I had some great basketball coaches such as Reggie Wallace, Lochlan Cummings, Mike Sheldon, and his team.”

Did you get any grounding in what an American high school is like before you started acting in the role?

“I think that was the hardest part of the role, trying to play an American and what it was like doing American things just like going to school. Obviously, I had watched a lot of movies based in schools but in my eyes, that was just for the movies, and it wasn’t like that in real life. However, throughout the course of the shoot, I realised that it’s depicted very well in movies and my castmates on set made a great effort to teach me the ways of an American prep student.”

Do you hang out with the other young men that play your teammates on the show, off-set as well?

“We would hang out all the time, we were family on and off the court. I had never been on a set that was so close before. Every weekend we would see each other, we would help each other with auditions, running lines, watching movies, and anything that normal mates do. Reggie Rock Bythewood [showrunner] really made sure that it was a comfortable environment to be yourself on set and I think that’s what really shaped it into a family.”

Did your parent/s come with you to the US when you landed the role?

“My Mum and Dad were very supportive throughout the 2-year journey and both of them would swap when I would go. My mum came with me for the pilot and then my dad came with me the second time, then they swapped back. It was a family effort that’s for sure. I’m very lucky to have a family that does their best to support my opportunities and make sacrifices of their own.”

Does Kevin Durant make an appearance on set, and are you/the other boys starstruck when that happens?

“He never came on set throughout the shoot, but we had multiple zoom calls with him, and he really made time to talk to all of us and he was very supportive. When I first met him in real life I couldn’t move, I was super starstruck! The other boys and I were so hyped and excited to meet him for real and he was super down to earth, and super tall!”

Did you have to give up on school once you landed the role?

“I moved from my normal school All Saints’ College to SIDE which is School of Isolated and Distance Education. This meant I could carry on with the West Australian curriculum online whilst in the US.

“We had to do so many hours per day in “school” whilst on set with the help of onset teachers. Having everything on my computer was very easy to manage.”

Is it a bit frustrating that Apple TV+ isn’t on everyone’s radar, even though the show is so great, and you are so great in it?

“That’s very kind of you thank you! Apple TV+ has some fantastic shows, it’s relatively new but it’s getting more original content regularly. I’m confident that when people see the content It will become more popular. It does get a bit frustrating when I get comments like “I’ll wait for it to come on Netflix”. I guess there are so many streaming platforms people can choose from now.”

Have you been on the audition trail whilst you’re in the US and is there anything in the pipeline apart from Swagger?

“I did a few auditions whilst in the US, it’s always good practice auditioning. Whilst Swagger is my priority if there is a season 2, I’m hoping to dive into whatever comes my way. I’m looking forward to any acting challenge and will continue to audition. I love acting and will do whatever it takes!”

Swagger is currently streaming on Apple TV+

Photos by Mark Flower

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