Chadwick Boseman Will Play James Brown In Tate Taylor's Biopic

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by Tambay A. Obenson
August 26, 2013 9:05 PM
22 Comments
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Wow!

Earlier today, I published an entry on Tate Taylor's announced plans to begin shooting his James Brown biopic this fall, wondering whether he and producer Brian Grazer had settled on an actor to play the lead, given that fall is just around the corner.

News just hit the web announcing that Chadwick Boseman has been selected for the job, which is housed at Universal Pictures.

This would make it the second real-life public personality Boseman will play on screen. Earlier this year, he starred as Jackie Robinson in Brian Helgeland's biopic on the history-making baseball legend, 42.

This is a film that Spike Lee was previously long-attached to direct, but was replaced by Tate Taylor (director of The Help) earlier this year, with super producer Brian Grazer producing, and Mick Jagger joining Grazer as producer.

Taylor plans to shoot the film this fall in Mississippi, including filming at the Mississippi Coliseum on the state fairgrounds, where Brown performed a concert in February 1969. 

And as for whether James Brown (whom Grazer said he met several times while he was alive, and even discussed the project) was at all concerned about a warts and all telling of his life story on film, Grazer said he seemed OK with that.

The screenplay has been penned by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth (they wrote the script for Fair Game, the Naomi Watts and Sean Penn film).

So, essentially, James Brown, The Godfather Of Soul's story will be told on screen by a pair of white writers, white producers and a white director.

That's progress for ya...

The story will begin in Brown's youth, as he rose from extreme poverty to become The Godfather Of Soul.

The star of Mischa Webley's indie PTSD drama/thriller The Kill Hole, and also a director in his own right, Boseman impressed critics with his star-turn as Robinson, and will next be seen in Lionsgate’s sports drama Draft Day, in which he plays Vontae Mack, a linebacker with NFL dreams, co-starring alongside Kevin Costner.

Boseman has also been rumored to be at the top of Marvel's short list of actors to cast in their Black Panther movie - a project that fanboys and girls have been wishing for, for quite some time. 

Now start imagining him with a perm...

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22 Comments

  • Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima | September 6, 2013 6:08 AMReply

    if you say Chadwick Boseman is a wrong choice, then name a better African American actor to play James Brown, and not just dismissing the choice of professional filmmakers who should know better.

  • Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima | September 6, 2013 5:58 AMReply

    Well, the guy has an impressive resume and should be able to make it as good as Jamie Foxx's Oscar winning portrayal of Ray Charles.

  • Donella | August 27, 2013 6:57 PMReply

    Tate Taylor's cultural insight is about as short as his directorial filmography. An unfortunate turn of events.

  • Nadell | August 27, 2013 3:47 PMReply

    Boseman is a great actor and did Jackie Robinson well but James Brown....no.

  • 90056 | August 27, 2013 1:23 PMReply

    wow. remind me not to announce anything on this site. my, my.

  • CareyCarey | August 27, 2013 12:19 PMReply

    What'sup Savannah, its been a minute. But yeah, I'm with you, I've said this many times, I've yet to see a movie on one of our icons -- directed by a white person -- that I felt good about. Well, there is one exception, RAY directed by Taylor Hackford. Having said that, I believe the screenplay was written by a black man, James L White. And, one has to give credit to an outstanding cast and a decent budget (40 million).

    But I had to laugh at Miles' suggestion because it's true, Chadwick could be the "black" bait in this biopic (just like he was in The Jackie Robinson Story "42"), opening the door for another Harrison Ford... if you know what I mean. So yeah, we need to be close to the action before our stories hit the screen.

    p.s. Heck, pissing on myself was the least of my problems, I had to face the wrath of my mother. Dad was cool, he understood or at least he wasn't the yelling type, but mom, she was the deciplanarian. She told my father to whoop me right there on the porch. That's right, piss soaked shoe and snot running from my nose, oblivious to the world around me, my mother still wanted my father to bring the law down on me. Well, he said "Now Haz (my mother's name), I can't do that, besides, the boy wouldn't feel it anyway, so what lesson would he learn". Of course mom had to get the last word... "well, he's not coming in my house, leave him right here on the porch". Now mind you, this was the dead of winter, it was 10 degrees below zero outside... and this porch was NOT heated. Long story short, dad won that battle, he carried me up to my bedroom. But wait, that's not the end of this James Brown night out.

    My older brother, who was suppose to be my chaperon, came home after I did. By then mom was breathing fire. Anyway, after reading him the riot act, followed by a few kicks in his ass, he was told to go upstairs and go straight to bed. Well, there was one problem, we slept in the same bed and my "condition" had worsened. That's right, even though my bowels had completely released themselves, along with me throwing up green puck (must have been that Schnapps on top of that Seagrams) when my brother complained, my mother said "I don't care if his head starts spinning around like that girl's from the "Exorcist", you went with him... so get in there, you two drinking buddies can finish your party together".

  • CareyCarey | August 27, 2013 1:20 PM

    OUCH! Come on AV, that's the first time I've ever heard someone say RAY sucked. Surely you received some pleasure from the acting, the music... or sumtin"?

    In reference to the acting, aside from Jamie Foxx's Oscar winning performance, there was multiple black actors who I would champion.

    Anyway, I don't quite understand your disdain for "cradle-to-the-grave biopics? To that point, do you have an example of one that fits your groove zone?

    Side note: My jury is still out on Michael B. Jordan.

  • AccidentalVisitor | August 27, 2013 12:29 PM

    "Ray" sucked too. Just another simplified cradle-to-the-grave biopic.

  • Dankwa Brooks | August 27, 2013 12:00 PMReply

    SHEBABABY | AUGUST 27, 2013
    "This is what Spike should have been doing a Kickstarter for."

    LOL. I hear ya SHEBABABY, but I can pretty much guarantee that THIS film will cost about $40 Million to produce. At least. I doubt if Spike could have raised that on Kickstarter.

  • AccidentalVisitor | August 27, 2013 11:55 AMReply

    About as excited for this as I am of the rumored Rocky sequel "Creed" with Michabel B Jordan.....which means not at all.

    Never follow a biopic with another biopic (even if Boseman does have a supporting role in another film in between apparently). especially when the biopics are about such well-known, iconic figures. Boseman was talking about wanting to do a Jimi Hendrix film and I thought that was a terrible idea. This is even worse.


    Even worse than Affleck as Batman :)

  • Dankwa Brooks | August 27, 2013 11:53 AMReply

    1. Criticism of the picture's historical accuracy aside, 'The Help' was a really good directed picture.

    2. Boseman did a really great job in '42'. Looking forward to seeing what he can do with this role.

    ADAM SCOTT THOMPSON | AUGUST 26, 2013
    "I'd always hoped that a James Brown biopic would be a little... balls-out. Almost like a Terry Gilliam film. Just as crazy as his performance outfits. And with Brown himself as a kind of unreliable narrator." James Brown is a cultural icon. I wouldn't dismiss any future interpretations like you stated.

  • SAVANNAH MORGAN | August 27, 2013 10:33 AMReply

    CAREYCAREY that just might be the best story I've heard all year!! LOL

    On another note and no shade to Tate just would have been nice to see one of "US" directing, producing even writing this bio.

  • Onyx | August 27, 2013 10:06 AMReply

    Kudos to Chadwick for landing the role. My real fear is the director, Tate Taylor. I'm hoping he's learned a lesson after some of his questionable and insulting comments during the PR blitz for The Help, and also while directing The Help.
    Emma Stone revealed Taylor requested (and got) the menstrual cycles of the females playing major roles in the film. Taylor and Spencer tried laughing it off in one interview, but that is beyond insulting.

    In addition, The Grio.com reported Taylor saying “The scene where Viola Davis is sitting on a toilet in a garage in 108 degrees, and then a white woman comes out and tells her to hurry up was visually brutal. To me that’s worse than seeing a lynching. It just is.”

    Taylor said a number of other statements that made me smh. Here's hoping this film will give him a bit more sensitivity. If anyone's interested in the other verbal gaffes, please check out issue twelve on this list: http://acriticalreviewofthehelp.wordpress.com/ten-issues-that-tarnish-the-help/

  • Darkan | August 27, 2013 4:42 AMReply

    Wow... That's another film that I won't be supporting. I met James Brown back in Augusta several times. Chadwick should be smart and turn it down. He is not right for this role. This is just as bad as Tyrese wanting to play Teddy Pendergrass. Give it to an unknown. Wow... Just wow...

  • Darkan | August 27, 2013 10:50 PM

    So did Aretha Franklin to Halle Berry about her life story. Doesn't mean that it was a smart move. Halle was smart and turned it down. Some actors know what lane to stay in.

  • ALM | August 27, 2013 9:06 PM

    @ Darkan: Teddy Pendergrass himself gave Tyrese his blessing to do his biopic.

  • ShebaBaby | August 27, 2013 1:47 AMReply

    This is what Spike should have been doing a Kickstarter for.

  • CareyCarey | August 26, 2013 10:20 PMReply

    NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    All props to the kid for landing the Jackie Robinson role, but please, JAMES BROWN?!

    Listen, truth be told, as Jackie Robinson his acting was... well... alright but nothing special. But maybe he'll surprise me? Maybe he can capture The Godfather of Soul's unique vernacular. You know, James was known for having his own foreign language :-). But again, who knows, maybe Chadwick can take me down memory lane. I mean, one time I had the opportunity to be on stage with the Godfather. Well, he was performing at a small venue in my home town. It was hot as hell, no air condition but the music was pumpin'. His dancers were bringing it while the Famous Flames killed the background. James hit a step, did his squeal and tore the house town. Well, Mr. Brown, the music and the whole atmosphere ( and that fifth of Seagrams) got the best of me and my party, we rushed the stage. There we were, me, my friends and Mr. James Brown, doing the thang, the boogaloo, the jerk and the splits. Yep, life was grand, but I wonder if Chadwick Boseman can take me there?

    p.s. At the end of the night I was pissy drunk. Okay, most have been drunk but I still lived in my parent's home. That's right, I think I was in my early teens. Anyway, an uncle of mine took me home, threw me on my parents porch, rang the doorbell and left (at least that's what I was told. I don't remember when I pissed on myself or how I got home).

  • Adam Scott Thompson | August 26, 2013 9:32 PMReply

    I'd always hoped that a James Brown biopic would be a little... balls-out. Almost like a Terry Gilliam film. Just as crazy as his performance outfits. And with Brown himself as a kind of unreliable narrator.

  • Miles Ellison | August 26, 2013 9:32 PMReply

    At least Leonardo DiCaprio isn't playing James Brown. I'm waiting for the announcement that the film is actually about the fascinating journey of one of the white cameramen who filmed the T.A.M.I. show.

  • turner | August 26, 2013 11:39 PM

    No need to invent or go too far for a white character... how about his wife?

  • Nadia | August 26, 2013 10:26 PM

    Lol! Don't even put that out there. Although, yeah, I'm waiting to see what white character they are going to put in this to play opposite Boseman. Maybe some fictitious white journalist who becomes friends with James Brown and through whose eyes and fictitious relationship with Brown the story will be told.

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