Dwight Henry ('Beasts of the Southern Wild') Will Play Marvin Gaye's Father In Biopic

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by Tambay A. Obenson
April 26, 2013 2:22 PM
5 Comments
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One of these years I'll attend the Marché du Film (the Cannes Film Market) in person. I browse the extensive catalog of films each year, which is usually quite long, but it would be nice to be there to witness the "marketing" happening, as projects are bought and sold, or packaged and launched. It must all be very exciting for those involved.

To give you some idea of how big it is, 11,500 participants from 110 different countries, attended last year's Marché du Film, with almost 5000 films presented.

One of the films that will be on the table this year is the Jesse L. Martin Julien Temple Marvin Gaye project, Sexual Healing, which Martin will star in as Gaye, and his Law & Order co-star S. Epatha Merkerson, will play Marvin’s Gaye’s mother, Alberta Cooper Gay.

Focus Features International has announced that it will be present at the market, where the company intends to sell worldwide rights to the project.

But even more interesting, also revealed in that same announcement, is that Dwight Henry (Beasts of the Southern Wild) has been cast as Marvin Gaye’s father, Marvin Gay, Sr., who fatally shot his son, killing him on April 1, 1984, following an argument at their Los Angeles home.

A strict father and minister, he eventually died in 1998 at 84 years old.

Interesting pick for the role, and one I didn't even consider; but I can dig it. Depending on how much the character is incorporated into the film, this could be a challenging showcase kind of role for Henry.

The film will be set in the early 1980s, and will focus on the making of the Midnight Love album, while Gaye was living in Belgium - a drug addict, considered something of a has-been at the time.

The first single from the album (Sexual Healing) was eventually released in the fall of 1982. Marvin Sr would shoot Marvin Jr less than 2 years later, in April 1984.

Also Brendan Gleeson and Vicky Krieps have joined the cast; Gleeson will play Freddy Cousaert, who helped Marvin get back into the swing of things. No word on what role Krieps is playing. 

Grammy Award-winning producer Vassal Benford will executive produce and also compose the score. 

Principal photography has begun in Luxemburg and Belgium.

I'm glad that this is finally moving forward, after so many years of starts and stops. Look for a likely film festival debut in the first half of 2013. In fact, it'll probably be on my 2014 Sundance or Cannes predictions lists.

Below you'll find a very rare video-taped conversation between father and son; It's actually quite sad watching it, observing the way they related to one another at the time, knowing what was to come.

But check it out to see what might be in Dwight Henry's future.

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5 Comments

  • Sarishah | August 14, 2013 12:52 AMReply

    I was so disappointed to learn that 'Beasts' was Dwight Henry's first role, if only because his performance was so excellent that I wanted to watch every other film he's been in. His delivery and mannerisms were wonderfully raw and genuine.

  • Skye | August 7, 2013 9:03 PMReply

    BOTSW was the BEST film of the year, and should have won the Oscar, as the actors, writers, everyone involved in producing the movie, should have as well. It was powerful, primal, unique and so fantastic that it was an independent film, so much more impressive than movies backed by the big corporate dollars. Looking forward to seeing Dwight Henry in his new role. He is such a raw emotional natural performer.

  • ALM | April 29, 2013 9:33 PMReply

    It's a major good look for Mr. Henry!

  • Donella | April 26, 2013 2:46 PMReply

    Play on player! I also think the casting is good based upon Henry's work with Beasts of the Southern Wild. With the role in 12 Years a Slave, I'm sure he's getting good training in front of the camera. He's got that something.

  • Reelblack | April 26, 2013 2:39 PMReply

    This one I could actually see working. (of course Jesse and Dwight are only about 5 years apart in real life ). Good luck Jesse. I know this has been your dream.

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