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Eddie Murphy Talks Starring In Spike Lee's James Brown Biopic; Calls It "The Most Incredible Script"

by Tambay A. Obenson
March 6, 2012 4:14 PM
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James Brown in Alex Gibney's "Mr. Dynamite."
James Brown in Alex Gibney's "Mr. Dynamite."

A film based on the life of the singer has long been in the works, with Spike Lee attached to direct it, and uber-producer Brian Grazer overseeing the project; though it's in limbo right now, with no certainty whatsoever that it'll ever be made.

At one point, Wesley Snipes was Spike's man for the starring job, but my guess is that Wesley's tax problems meant a change in plans.

In fact, as recently as 2009, it seemed like the project was as close to a surething as any can get, with Spike saying in an interview with MTV News, "We're doing it together – it's going to happen... He’s my man."

He was referring to Wesley Snipes in that quote back in January 2009 (S&A hadn't been born yet).

Spike added that he intended to use James Brown's "authentic voice" during for any musical sequences in the film; essentially, Wesley would lip-synch.

Years later since the project first came together, little seems to have further developed on this project, and it looks like if it does happen anytime soon, it won't be Wesley Snipes in the starring role.

Last we heard about the film (last year), James Brown's daughter, Dr. Yamma Brown said that the family was considering Eddie Murphy, Chris Brown & Usher to star in the Godfather of Soul’s biopic, an announcement which, as I recall, took a lot of you by surprise.

And based on the interview with Eddie below, he's apparently the man for the part, and is ready and willing to do it; although as I’ve said before, I’d rather cast an unknown.

Also, when it comes to biopics, I’d much rather that they focus on some period of the man’s life, as opposed to trying to squeeze his entire life into 2 hours.

James Brown's is just one of several film projects based on the lives of deceased black entertainers currently in limbo (films on the lives of Marvin GayeNina Simone and Tupac are 3 I can immediately think of).

Watch the interview clip below with BlackTree TV in which Eddie (doing press for A Thousand Words) talks about Spike's James Brown project, stating, "there's the most incredble script that Spike Lee worked on that has everything in it, but you have to get the rights from the people who have the rights to James' story... and getting them all together... which makes it hard to come together... but I hope it comes together... it's a great, great piece...":

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  • Donella | March 10, 2012 3:19 PMReply

    I wonder if Spike would look at Wayne Brady as James Brown?

  • onyx | March 7, 2012 4:48 PMReply

    I love Eddie. But at times during Dreamgirls I would hear Eddie doing Donkey from Shrek. I'd like to see an up and comer, like Derek Luke. But no matter who gets cast, this could be a great part.

  • Donella | March 7, 2012 3:36 PMReply

    I'd definitely watch this project. Eddie Murphy as James Brown on SNL was a blast. He has the character down. I believe Eddie and Spike, two veterans of Hollyweird, have a pretty good idea of the magic that can happen when they combine their talents as performer and director. Spike is brilliant at documentaries and biopics.

  • Donella | March 8, 2012 1:18 PM

    I guess we'll have to see what Spike can do with his lead actor.

  • CareyCarey | March 7, 2012 4:23 PM

    Well Donella, I have to lean toward HELLUVA on this one. If we are talking about a James Brown Biopic, I don't think they (the director) should go for "hammy" and certainly not James Brown in the hot tub. Don't get me wrong, I loved Dreamgirls and Eddie Murphy's SNL skits (CLASSICS!) but Eddie also killed Buckwheat and Gumbie. And again, I agree with HELLUVA in the sense that Eddie's character in Dreamgirls was entertaining but for me, he was a caricature. And, while watching Dreamgirls I always saw "Eddie" not the character he was playing. Btw, his character (the real person) was from IOWA. GO HAWKEYES! Anyway, Eddie is a great comedian but the jury is still out on his ability to carry a dramatic role... imo. But check this, Jamie Fox should get first consideration. That boy KILLED did the damn thang in Dreamgirls. He was the best thang smokin' outside of Jennifer Hudson's singing. AND, he WAS Ray Charles... looks, body & soul! So James Brown would be a drop in the bucket. Come on now, Jamie can even sing. The man is probably the best multitalented performer on the scene, bar none.

  • Helluva | March 7, 2012 1:41 PMReply

    Would love to see Eddie & Spike work together for both of their benefit. I think Spike could bring out the best in him, but I disagree Betty Chambers, his acting in "Dreamgirls" was hella hammy. But I blame that on the inexperienced director more than him. Had ol' boy who did "Chicago" directed "Dreamgirls" I think it'd been a better film all-around.

    Spike would do well to suppress that ego and start working with more brothers wit' money: Eddie, Will Smith, Tyler P. Stop telling them how they should handle theirs and SHOW THEM. I mean, you are a filmmaker, right?

  • Betty Chambers | March 6, 2012 10:39 PMReply

    Eddie was impressive in Dreamgirls. So much so, I forgot that it was him. His acting was superb.

  • B | March 6, 2012 6:43 PMReply

    I hope they bring this together. Eddie and Spike would be cinematic gold, imo.

  • befree | March 6, 2012 5:41 PMReply

    Eddie is naturally funny.

  • defv | March 6, 2012 5:37 PMReply

    i would luv to see eddie play this role, fingers crossed

  • o | March 6, 2012 5:15 PMReply

    sex, drugs, rock & roll .... shooting out tires! Eddie is still the best in the game.

  • HarveyDent322 | March 6, 2012 4:36 PMReply

    Spike and Eddie working together? I'll believe it when it happens.

  • Akimbo | March 6, 2012 5:17 PM

    Yeah, I can't even imagine what kind of set that would be; the egos on those two!

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