LeBron James in Space Jam: A New Legacy and Will Smith in Bad Boys, pictured side by side.

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Becoming a movie star brings unique challenges, as it tests even the most skilled performers. Will Smith learned that lesson for himself while making Bad Boys with Michael Bay back in the ‘90s. And as history has shown us, Smith more than conquered the hurdles to stardom, and still remains a box office draw to this day. Which makes him more than qualified to prepare LeBron James for movie stardom, prompting Bay himself to throw in his own two cents on the subject.

While LeBron James may only have a handful of acting credits so far, but the NBA superstar’s film career might get its largest boost with this summer’s Space Jam: A New Legacy. During a past episode of his show The Shop, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence were guests, and they told some fun Bad Boys set stories throughout the show, including when Michael Bay insisted Will Smith was shirtless. Bay himself re-shared a clip from one particular story on his Instagram, while making LeBron James a pretty big promise:

Similar to a story he once told during a late night guest spot, the story that Will Smith had to share involved that time Michael Bay wanted him to go shirtless in Bad Boys. Smith, obviously not feeling it, pushed back against that notion, to which Bay retorted that his abs would make him a movie star. With a compromise dictating Will Smith walk in with an opened shirt, Michael Bay celebrated victory, and now he’d like to repeat that feat with LeBron James.

Well, there you have it folks. Michael Bay is ready to take LeBron James to the next level, and he’s acknowledged that Will Smith’s pointers to compromise with his direction is sage advice. Strangely enough, the story of Smith’s shyness to do a shirtless scene in Bad Boys feels like the origin story for moments in films like I Am Legend where that coyness was totally absent. Looks like Bay’s advice pays off over time, as well as in the moment, as you’ll see in this classic moment of pure Bayhem:

LeBron James made his most lasting impression with his role in the Judd Apatow/Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck, where his slightly fictionalized version of himself proved that he was a comedic secret weapon. With Space Jam: A New Legacy looking to prove that James can translate that success into blockbuster tentpole magic, a Michael Bay movie would pretty much be the next step in conquering an acting career. And when a legendary action director wants to make you a star, you can pretty much count on him trying his best; especially when that director is known to push the envelope in order to get the shot.

How Michael Bay will make LeBron James a movie star remains to be seen. But you’ll be able to see James himself take his next big step in Space Jam: A New Legacy, which debuts in theaters and on HBO Max on July 16th. If you’re not a subscriber yet, check out the six month prepaid subscription offer that’s currently available, ready to put you in the middle of the action.

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