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Brian Helgeland Has Found His Jackie Robinson For Biopic Titled "42"

by Tambay A. Obenson
December 9, 2011 6:33 PM
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Chadwick boseman

Announced a few months ago, Brian Helgeland and Legendary Pictures are developing a new film based on history’s most celebrated baseball figure, Jackie Robinson, in collaboration with Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson.

The big question has, of course, been, who should be cast to play Jackie Robinson? As I've said before, when it comes to biopics, I'd prefer that they cast unknowns; but, given the expected size of this project, I initially guessed that they'd go with someone who's somewhat known - although not necessarily an A-lister.

Well... not-so-fast my friends...

It's just been announced that relative newcomer Chadwick Boseman (who's worked primarily in television on shows like Fringe, Justified and Castle) is in final negotiations to play Jackie Robinson in the biopic titled 42 (after his jersey number which was retired by all major league baseball teams in 1997).

Brian Helgeland will direct from a script he also wrote, which will tell Robinson's story, as the first African-American to play in the major leagues. I'm guessing this won't be a birth-to-death biopic, and will instead focus on highlights from Robinson's life.

Earlier this week, Harrison Ford was reportedly offered the role of Branch Rickey in the filmthe Brooklyn Dodgers' manager who made history by signing Robinson as the first black player in the history of the Major League Baseball organization. No word on whether he's accepted.

Regardless, congrats to the young Chadwick Boseman on what should be his highest profile yet!

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  • Kim Agnew - Dickey | December 16, 2011 10:55 AMReply

    Chad, I'm so proud of you. You have proven that dedication and hard work pays off. Congrats and blessings to you. Can't wait to see the film.

  • Bobby Green | December 13, 2011 11:10 AMReply

    Chad...I can't come up with the right words right now to tell you how proud I am of you cousin. I believe you held out to take and roles that were meaningful....well, this one ranks right up there at the top....Congratulations young man.....God answers prays!
    Much Love, Bobby Green

  • Jug | December 12, 2011 1:18 PMReply

    Well Blaqbird, the fact of the matter is, "training" is good. Period. Tho some people are naturally gifted at a sport, should we except everyone off the street who says "I can play"? Show us what you've done, where you're from, what you've learned. The film world, in particular filmmakers, seems to value the opposite. There is an idea that training means "non-natural", which sometimes it can be. There are instances where a person plucked right off the street had a brilliant performance-why? Mainly because they're hired to just be them. The kids in KIDS were great, well, because they were the kids from the neighborhood. They are in the minority of great performances because most people shit their pants when asked to stand in front of someone & "perform" aka be normal. And then it's even worse when asked to do it again, but this time it's 1952, or 2394 or the French Revolution. Get my meaning? Training means skill, it means discipline, it means respect for what amounts to, for many, "gettin' paid", "fucking around" & "playing". And yes, I don't like "store-fronts on Ventura Blvd" because they're bullshit. I say Ventura Blvd as a short hand, but I could have said "Casting Director Workshops" if that makes you feel any better. I've spoken to many casting directors, I could rattle of many a name, and they ALL same the same thing, knowing how to audition is different than knowing how to act. And sorry, but many actors today know how to cold read, book a gig and then do that one or two movies, that show for however long it lasts & then they seem to faaaade away. If you don't believe me, look at some of the "favorites" of today. And of course, the fact that you didn't read my entire response lets me know that what I said got your ire up & you didn't actually HEAR what I said. Training, can come from anywhere as long as it's reputable and they teach you how to really be an Actor-a theatre group, a university, a comedy troupe, a class with voice & breathing lessons, courses on how to work for the camera, digging into text (script analysis). All of these sorts of things start to change your very perception of performance, not just "I learned my lines & can walk talk & chew bubble gum at the same. MANY places where people are getting their "training" from don't do that. They literally give you a scene, tell you HOW to do it, and then tell you you're great afterwards. You may get jobs (which often has more to do with how you LOOK then anything else), you might even be lucky enough to book a long standing gig on a show, but you best believe that studying & training are what's kept most of the good ones in the game-even if it's just a baseline knowledge of how to work a camera. Yes, I have a bias towards theatre training, bcuz that's where I'm from-but I don't down training from the LA/NY Film School, or personal instruction from Larry Moss (who is super duper theatre stocked mind you), or if you're lucky enough to get a personal master class from Alfred Molina or Jeffrey Tambor-it still teaches you real acting fundamentals & not just how to "pose" & "emote". THAT is what I'm talking about, and for so many of OUR "stars" that seems to be what's in-hence the rappers & singers. It's not about when you got into it either, R Lee Emery of FULL METAL JACKET fame-as with many older stars who were in WWII, Korea, etc-didn't get into it until they were nice & old. So what? The point is they went & LEARNED. Not went & "got a shortcut". And for every rule, there are a million exceptions, (like I said, Tommy Lee Jones never took an acting class in his life) but you best believe they STUDY and they are the exception. I do believe that doing it, is the greatest teacher, but I'm not for just anywhere "doing it", that shit can get you caught up. And for the record, I didn't go to any of those fancy-schmancy schools either, but I know that I wanted to be like the people I respected & they got some schoolin', so I didn't take a shortcut to get there. They're still around because they built a foundation of craft & excellence on expert tutelage. I suspect we're of the same mind, but it may not have seemed that way. Wanted to clear that up.

  • Mr. & Mrs. J. T. Boseman | December 12, 2011 9:25 AMReply

    Congrats to you Chad. We knew you before you came into the world and watched you grow into the wonderful young man you are today. We're very proud of you!!!! It's great to have an actor in the family.
    LOVE YA!!!!!

  • blaqbird | December 12, 2011 12:13 AMReply

    Meant to say, " A lot of actors were NOT theatrically trained..." Didn't proofread hard enough :)

  • sra | December 11, 2011 1:24 AMReply

    Kudos! Much success with the movie.

  • urbanauteur | December 10, 2011 4:04 PMReply

    THE TAKING OF pELHAM 1 2 3 (god forbid) meet's A Knight's Tale ...see how that turned out, Man on Fire...:-[

  • misha | December 10, 2011 11:38 AMReply

    I'm not familiar with Mr. Boseman's work but congrats to him! Looking forward to it.

  • CareyCarey | December 10, 2011 11:00 AMReply

    Hey, if Jug and The Black Church are up in here giving praise... I'm all in. Seriously, yawl know I love me some black church and all that it stands for. And, we all know Jug ain't off the mark too often. However, I do have a few concerns. Well, as Neziah implied, I hope the focus does not lean heavily toward Branch Rickey, in this case Harrison Ford. But how could it not? Lets spin the bottle and see where it stops. **bottle spinning. It stops on Brian Helgeland, a white man ** Now Brian wrote the script and it's safe to assume he got white money when others could not. So the story - in my thinking - must be pleasing to the white culture (do I smell another white savior film?). I don't know but lets spin the bottle again. **bottle spinning, and this time it stops on the safest negro, the first negro allowed in major league baseball, Jackie Robinson**. Although it can be argued that Jackie Robinson was not the best negro player of that time, yet, his bass(less) voice and his nonthreatening demeanor were perfect for the insecure and racists Americans of that time period. So now, as we continue, the bottle stops abruptly on Harrison Ford, it screams out "STAR POWER!". I know bottles can't scream but I'm just sayin'... and if Paul Harvey was still alive he would say "And now, the rest of the story". Well, just like the movies The Help and Blindside, white folks gotta have something to cheer about, or as history has told us, they are not going to spend their money on a black face and a "black" story unless they are holding the "whip" and the good light is shinning back on them.

  • Jug | December 12, 2011 4:25 PM

    Damn, got him on a serious "WTF?!" moment. Not even a whole lifestyle, but one moment that determined the rest of your life. Crazy, And you're right Carey, I was a little harsh up top, but I wanted to clear things up a bit. It's all Love Baby!

  • CareyCarey | December 12, 2011 4:00 PM

    "a person who paid $12.50 for a ticket doesn't give a shit-Entertainment Me Damnit! LOL And that is the bottom line. It was..*sigh*...a moment LOL :-D" LMAO! Yep, there it is. And as you know, I have many *BIG SIGH* moments :-D. But I read your reply to Blaqbird. It was fair (imo)and it made sense. And yelp, Micheal Nunn got caught-up in a drug bust. His defense was "entrapment". On the real, Micheal had always been "around" the game but only a few knew his exact involvement.You know how it goes, money attracts money seekers, co*ksuckers, mfers, hoes and thieves, so Micheal was a prime target, although many of the aforementioned thrill seekers were from his old neighborhood. Anyway, one day "allegedly" a deal was scheduled to take place in a hotel. Now I don't know the exact nature of said deal, however, Micheal was given upwards of a Key (kilogram) of cocaine for less than $200.00. You read that right. Two Hundred Dollars for 2.2 lbs of cocaine ($24,000 worth)! He stuck it down his pants (on camera), but he didn't make it out of the Hotel lobby. He was sentenced to over 24 years in federal prison. During his sentencing hearing the prosecution put witnesses on the stand who attested to Michael's "street" involvements. Many of them were serving time at the time of their testimony. One such scoundrels once broke my arm in a street fight :-(. We were participants in a crap game that turned sour.
    Btw, I like Blaqbird so don't be so mean. :-D

  • Jug | December 12, 2011 1:29 PM

    Damn Carey, I actually remember Micheal Nunn. He's locked up?!? Damn, it's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

  • Jug | December 12, 2011 1:26 PM

    LOL I know Carey. Really, I too could care less about America vs British or Julliard vs Brown as far as being an audience goer-until you suck that is LMBAO Then I'm like "What the fuck are y'all learnin'?!?" LOL For real tho, the other stuff is pretty much inside the community, uppity, my clique vs your clique bullshit. And I freely admit it :-D Nobody cares if so & so went to Fordham or not, I was just on a jag this weekend about it because I had just seen the trailer for THINK LIKE A MAN & then saw that Chad booked this & I thought about all the actors I went to school with, or who I know out here-Black, White & the otherwise-who are literally starving & moving into other areas or careers simply because they didn't have the good fortune (or smarts) to do something else & parlay that into acting. They had the misfortune of falling in love with performing first & foremost & the industry-the audience goer-could really care less. Whether you're Ryan Seacrest, the cast of REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA, Kim Kardashian, Common or Anthony Mackie-a person who paid $12.50 for a ticket doesn't give a shit-Entertainment Me Damnit! LOL And that is the bottom line. It was..*sigh*...a moment LOL :-D

  • CareyCarey | December 12, 2011 1:20 AM

    Jug, over the year we've discussed the British actor vs the American actor and the theatrically trained vs the "on the job" trained actor, and to tell you the truth, I can't really speak on the issue. I mean, I believe I know good acting when I see it, but since most actors don't run around with degrees hanging out of their pockets or strips on their sleeves or wearing letter sweaters like a high school jock, how would I, or anyone know where and how they were trained? And, I really don't care. The issue only comes up when someone is touting one actor over another. You know, you've heard the arguments... So n So should get the part because she went to Julliard". Hell, if that was the defining factor in why one actor is better than another, it would be sooooo simply. The best college, the most noted theatrical training institution and BAM, the job is yours. Who cares if the fool can act? I guess I am saying until someone brings me facts, a list of names of those who are excelling in the industry ( and their Alma Mater) vs. the struggling actors who are not finding steady work (and their training history), I will view this issue with a grain of salt. On another note, big ups to your boy, what kind of guy is he? I know that makes you feel good when you see one of yours doing the damn thang. Man, I have a partner who I used to spar with that went on to become the WBA World Boxing Middleweight Champion. You may have heard of him, his name is Micheal Nunn. Well, when I thought about his success I would break out in a smile. Unfortunately the smiles have turned upside down because he's now doing time in the Fed joint. But I still love telling the stories of days gone by :-)

  • Jug | December 10, 2011 9:22 PM

    Oh, and on a semi-related note Carey, as for Chad, good for him! Went to school with him & HOPEFULLY, it will show folks that there are Black actors out here who are trained-and I mean theatrically trained, classics & all-who are worthy of being hired for big shit. Not just models, rappers & folks who get their "training" at a store front on Ventura Blvd teaching them how to "cold read"-but not how to "Act". How to want to be an Actor, not just someone who gets in front of the camera. If anything Carey, I'd say that is where Brits may have it over Americans, they have a tradition of training that we in Hollywood don't value anymore, but it IS still here in America. Most assuredly. Does that make "trained" actors better? Not necessarily, but the odds are it'll make for a more varied & lengthy career. Like I said, Howard University baby!

  • Jug | December 10, 2011 9:16 PM

    LOL Leave it to Carey to be the contrarian LOL. But that's good, keeps folks on their toes. The script is good, not great. It does veer a tad into predictable biopic territory, but it solely focuses on Jackie, his anger, passion & his need to be like a damn Ghandi to make it in the majors. They chose him not because he was the best, but because he had all the components to make the change stick-young, attractive, military history, played with white athletes at UCLA. Branch is in it & you can't escape the fact that he masterminded it, but the movie isn't about him nor is he absolved from his doing it for selfish reasons. But anything can happen from page to screen & it could become the Ford show LOL

  • Uncredited Rewrite | December 9, 2011 11:08 PMReply

    I watch Fringe and saw the episode he guest starred in. Def has talent and yes they really need to do this more often with any film roles remember how awesome United 93 was? How many careers got started with those new comers

  • Myrtice Collier | December 9, 2011 10:40 PMReply

    Congratulations Chad! To God Be The Glory! We are praying for your continuous success!
    God Bless You!
    We Love You!
    The Collier Family

  • Flora Cooper (Crockett) | December 9, 2011 10:17 PMReply

    Excellent choice! Congratulations Chad. You've earned it. I've kept up with your varied roles via e-mails from Dionne. I am a family friend of Tony and Blondell from way back when you guys were toddlers.

  • Shuarica W. | December 9, 2011 10:12 PMReply

    Congratulations Chad. Dawn keeps everyone posted on your success. So make her prouder than she already is. Congrats again.

  • Neziah | December 9, 2011 9:38 PMReply

    Hopefully they don't focus more on the white protagonist like "Cry Freedom".

  • Hi Hater | December 9, 2011 9:24 PMReply

    Hilarious how everyone is claiming the newbie, Harrison Ford did sign on to the film as well.

  • Pastor Sam B. Neely | December 9, 2011 9:15 PMReply

    The entire Welfare Baptist Church community sends our blessing to a young man who has proven that he has a special gift. To God be the Glory!

  • Misha | December 9, 2011 8:02 PMReply

    Goooooo Chad!!! Do-or-Die Bed Stuy!!!!!!

  • Dax | December 9, 2011 7:32 PMReply

    It's about time! shame though Spike has been trying to get one made for years but can't get funding and this cat Helgeland get's it. I'd rather see a newcomer make the character than an A-lister as well congrats to the kid! Royce Clayton and another player once tried as well to put funding together but couldn't get Mrs.Robinson's blessing along with other roadblocks. Just wondering why now and how difficult was it for this guy to get green light?

  • FANOFAFAN | December 9, 2011 7:23 PMReply

    YAY!!! Congrats to this young man!! Refreshing to see a new face!!

  • Jug | December 9, 2011 6:42 PMReply

    H.U. BABBYY!!!!

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