Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Egypt & Morocco Ban Ridley Scott's 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' for Historical Inaccuracies Egypt & Morocco Ban Ridley Scott's 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' for Historical Inaccuracies Denzel Washington Is One of Hollywood's Most Overpaid Stars, According to Forbes Denzel Washington Is One of Hollywood's Most Overpaid Stars, According to Forbes Bill Duke's 'Dark Girls' Follow-up, 'Light Girls,' Gets a First Trailer & Release date (Heading to OWN) Bill Duke's 'Dark Girls' Follow-up, 'Light Girls,' Gets a First Trailer & Release date (Heading to OWN) Watch Trailer for Romcom 'With This Ring' (Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve Star - Coming January 2015) Watch Trailer for Romcom 'With This Ring' (Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve Star - Coming January 2015) Here Are the Top 10 Grossing "Black Films" of 2014... How Many of Them Did You See? Here Are the Top 10 Grossing "Black Films" of 2014... How Many of Them Did You See? Debbie Allen & Phylicia Rashad Sign Up for 'Arsenic and Old Lace' Playing the Brewster Sisters Debbie Allen & Phylicia Rashad Sign Up for 'Arsenic and Old Lace' Playing the Brewster Sisters Weekend B.O. Dec. 19-21 (Sony's Grateful for Small Blessings, while Paramount Blew it) Weekend B.O. Dec. 19-21 (Sony's Grateful for Small Blessings, while Paramount Blew it) Ava DuVernay Has Multi-Episode TV Series on "Black Experience in America" in the Works Ava DuVernay Has Multi-Episode TV Series on "Black Experience in America" in the Works Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood Preview: Jessica Williams of 'The Daily Show' Makes Leading Lady Debut in 'Tap Shoes & Violins' Preview: Jessica Williams of 'The Daily Show' Makes Leading Lady Debut in 'Tap Shoes & Violins' '106 & PARK' Says Goodbye Today, Dec 19 at 6pm, w/ Live, 2-hour, Star-Studded Finale! '106 & PARK' Says Goodbye Today, Dec 19 at 6pm, w/ Live, 2-hour, Star-Studded Finale! First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) 7 More Slave-Themed Films For You To Look Forward To This Year, 2013 7 More Slave-Themed Films For You To Look Forward To This Year, 2013 Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

In Consideration Of Other Films On Black Athletes With '42' Opening This Weekend...

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 12, 2013 at 4:04PM

With the Jackie Robinson biopic, 42, opening in USA theaters this weekend, I thought it would be worthwhile to open up a conversation about other biopics on the lives of black/Diaspora athletes.
3
42-Brooklyn

With the Jackie Robinson biopic, 42, opening in USA theaters this weekend, I thought it would be worthwhile to open up a conversation about other biopics on the lives of black/Diaspora athletes. 

There aren't as many as you'd think, even though black athletes have long dominated most popular sports. 

I'm not referring to documentaries; there are tons of those on black athletes. I'm interested in historical fiction scripted narratives (I suppose we could call them) based on the lives of real-life athletes.

How many have you seen? How many can you name?

There are recent titles like Ali (which starred Will Smith as Muhammad Ali), The Hurricane (Denzel Washington as middleweight boxer Rubin Carter), The Express (on the life of college football hero Ernie Davis, the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy, played by Rob Brown), The Athlete, or Atletu in Amharic (the Ethiopian film on legendary marathoner Abebe Bikila, who, in 1960, competed in the Rome Olympic Games, barefoot, as a complete unknown, and won the gold medal, repeating his feat 4 years later at the Tokyo Olympic Games, becoming the first man to win the Olympic marathon twice in a row), and even The Tiger Woods Story (which starred Khalil Kain).

What else can you think of?

Of course, there've been countless announced biopics over the years that haven't been realized, and it's anyone's guess whether they will eventually become realities.

For example, director Barry Levinson is developing a project on Hank Aaron, which was first announced last spring; Anthony Mackie has long been trying to make a film on Jesse Owens, calling it his dream project; Wil Haygood's acclaimed biography Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson was optioned in 2010 to be adapted for David Oyelowo to star; Spike Lee has been trying to get his Save Us, Joe Louis project produced forever; Earlier last year, producer Hal Lieberman (Terminator 3: Rise of the MachinesVacancyacquired rights to football legend/actor Jim Brown's life story for a feature film to be written by Bob Eisele (The Great Debaters) and directed by Jonathan Hock; In 2010, actor Dermot Mulroney was said to be working on a biopic on the life of Liberian soccer star-turned-politician, George Weah; a biopic on black British soccer star Laurie Cunningham, was announced in 2010. Anthony Mackie and Ashley Walters have been mentioned as possible candidates to star; Brazilian soccer legend Pelé - born Edison Arantes do Nascimento - will be the subject of a scripted feature film backed by Ron Howard's and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment...

And there are others; this is just a sample of what may or may not be to come.

I've previously said on this blog that I'm not a fan of conventional birth-to-death biopics. With the Internet making it relatively easy for anyone to quickly pull up a basic biography of any public personality, I'm not sure I need a reconstruction of someone’s life from their childhood to the day they died (usually). I also don't know if I watch biopics to necessarily learn anything about the person at the center of each film, so I'm all for turning the idea of the biopic on its head, and creating something fresh, inventive and exciting, that still manages to capture the essence of the person whose story the film is inspired by - think of a film like Todd Haynes' I'm Not There as an example.

I'm especially looking forward to Don Cheadle's Miles Davis project, which, from all I've heard and read from those familiar enough with the film, is quite an unconventional ride. Cheadle himself has said that he's taking more of an avant-garde approach to the project, and that he isn't concerned with what he called "wall-to-wall truths."

That'll probably turn some people off, but I feel like the basic template of biopics of the past, through about the end of the 20th century, is dull and maybe even antiquated.

But back to biopics on athletes of the African diaspora... 

Of those that already exist, which are your favorites (feel free to add to my above list)? And of those that have been announced but haven't been produced yet, which are you most looking forward to?


Shadow & ActNewsletter