Director Jason Kohn on Love Means Zero


On this episode of ZUCKER, host Andrew Zucker is joined by Jason Kohn, the director of Showtime’s Love Means Zero. Kohn talks about the documentary, how he convinced to sit down with him, and the status of the relationship between the famous tennis coach and Andre Agassi.

On Bollettieri’s experience in the military before teaching tennis: He was in the army as a paratrooper. And then when he went to Florida to go to law school, early on that didn’t work out and he ended up as a tennis pro. But one of the things that is interesting is that he did take a certain kind of military-style training from his army experience and was one of the first tennis pros to implement military-style calisthenics into a sports regimen. So that was the pre-tennis life experience of his that really did set him apart as an early trainer and then as a coach to some of the biggest pros in the world.

On the movie’s focus on the relationship between Agassi and Bollettieri: I never wanted it to be a straight sports documentary. But I didn't understand that it was going to be so explicitly about the broken relationship with Andre Agassi. That didn't become truly apparent until we reached out to Andre Agassi and we were going back and forth with his manager and his people for almost a year until he finally said that he wasn't going to do it, it was too painful for him to open this wound. And when Andre said no to participating in a documentary about his coach — the person that really built him as a child into a superstar — it became kind of clear that there was still a wound that had not yet been healed....The fact that he hadn’t yet come to peace with that fact and that relationship and the fallout led to I think the realization that that’s kind of where the movie has to go.

On whether or not Bollietari viewed the film as an olive branch to Agassi: No I don’t think he saw it like that. What I felt from Nick is that still he has such love for this guy. I think Nick’s ego gets in his own way. I’m not saying anything that I don’t think Nick would say. You know, he’s got a big ego, but I still saw something so reverential for Andre in Nick. I mean he still truly loved him and you know it’s hard to say if Nick really saw this as an opportunity to mend the relationship. I think he would've liked that to have been an outcome, but I don't think that that was his priority in participating in the movie.