CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Joey Logano isn’t a movie star, but he clearly got a kick out of some facetious preening at Tuesday night’s screening of Logan Lucky. The new Steven Soderbergh film starring Channing Tatum was unveiled in Charlotte to a small NASCAR industry audience in advance of its nationwide release on Aug. 18.
“I’m a movie star now … it’s goes to your head — I can see that happening,” joked Logano, who first joined the Screen Actors Guild for a brief appearance in the 2015 movie Sharknado 3.
“I’m feeling good about this ‘Logan Lucky.’ I kind of want to change the name — just add an ‘O.’ Maybe someday it could be Logano Lucky. I would like that.”
Logano and Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski play a pair of security guards in the film, directed by Academy Award-winner Steven Soderbergh. NASCAR racing provides the backdrop for the plot, whose premise is a heist of Charlotte Motor Speedway on the day of the Coca-Cola 600.
The film bears an intentional resemblance to the “Oceans” trilogy, which Soderbergh also directed, but the robbers in Logan Lucky are far less sophisticated than their Oceans 11 counterparts.
Channing Tatum and Adam Driver play the Logan brothers, who hatch the plot to rob CMS, and Daniel Craig as safecracker Joe Bang is about as far-removed from his James Bond roles as one could possibly imagine.
NASCAR fans will have several opportunities to spot drivers in fleeting roles throughout the film. Logano, Keselowski and Ryan Blaney flew to Atlanta Motor Speedway to shoot their scenes this past winter.
“Joey and I play security guards that may think they’re cops — you know what I mean?” said Keselowski, who also appeared in Sharknado 3. “We’ve all kind of run into those guys, and I’m kind of the bad cop.”
Did he train for the role?
“Nah,” Keselowski said. “I’m a natural bad cop.”
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According to Keselowski, Blaney was type-cast perfectly as a delivery boy.
“If there’s ever an easier role for anyone to fill, it’s a pizza boy for Ryan Blaney,” Keselowski said. “He’s got the long hair and the hat and the stroll. He’s got the pizza-boy stroll. I just can’t wait to see his part.”
Blaney, who like his fellow drivers had not viewed the film before the screening, came to the theater dressed in character with a T-shirt and vintage Bill Elliott Motorcraft hat.
“I had a ton of fun doing it,” Blaney said. “Logano, Brad and myself all did our parts on the same day. They did theirs before mine. I got to watch them do theirs, watch them do all their lines. And then, when I had to go and do mine, it’s a lot easier to watch them do it than to actually do it.
“But it was pretty fun. I had a blast doing it. I’m anxious to see how it turns out, even though I had a really small part. I think it could be a hilarious movie.”
Drivers Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards appear in the film as highway patrol officers. And, if you look closely, you’ll catch a glimpse of Kyle Larson as a chauffeur.
Though NASCAR racing provides the tapestry against which the film’s action takes place, Soderbergh considered the Coca-Cola 600 integral to the fabric of the film.
“I wanted to make it clear from the standpoint of the filmmaking that we wanted to do for the Coca-Cola 600 and NASCAR what we did on the first Oceans movie for the Bellagio,” Soderbergh said before the screening. “We wanted to make it seem like an event you would want to attend, and it was fun and exciting, and I hope we accomplished that.
“So far, based on the reactions we’ve gotten to the film, everybody’s taken it in the right way — like I did after making the movie, wanting to be a NASCAR follower. … We came away happy with both the movie and our experience with NASCAR and with CMS, who gave us unfettered access to everything we needed, and I tried to take advantage of it.”