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Michael Jai White Working On Paul Robeson Biopic + Was Offered 'Expendables' But Had Conflicts

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by Courtney
October 29, 2012 8:52 PM
6 Comments
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Michael J White And 'Generation Iron' Director Vlad Yudin

In the below interview, Leslie Carvery caught up with Michael Jai White in Las Vegas, where he was on-hand for a documentary film project he's a part of. 

During the interview, White revealed a few things that I thought were worth sharing.

First, regarding the documentary mentioned, it's titled Generation Iron, and is something of a sequel to Pumping Iron, the 1977 film about the world of bodybuilding, focusing on the 1975 Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions, which was maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger's introduction to the world, or at least, the USA.

A quick search revealed that Generation Iron is being directed by Vlad Yudin, and will be produced by the same folks who brought us Pumping Iron. 

According to its website, Generation Iron will...

... examine the professional sport of bodybuilding today and gives the audience front row access to the lives of the top 7 bodybuilders in the sport as they train to compete in the world's most premiere bodybuilding stage - Mr. Olympia.

Some of the names who'll appear in front of the camera include Phil Heath, Kai Greene, Branch Warren, Dennis Wolf, Ben Pakulski, Hidetada Yamigishi, Roelly Winklaar, and Victor Martinez, amongst others.

This is not a world that I'm familiar with, but I'm sure those who are in-the-know will recognize some, if not all of those names. 

I did learn, with a search, that Phil Heath (who's black) is a current 2x Mr. Olympia champion, as you'll see in the trailer below.

The film is still in production, and, according to its Facebook page, won't be complete until sometime in 2013.

Jerome Gary, Edwin Mejia, Vlad Yudin, Robin Chang, Eric Weider, and Jim Manion are all listed as producers.

Secondly, White revealed that he was asked to be a part of the first Expendables movie, to play the part that went to Stone Cold Steve Austin (and not the Terry Crews role as you might expect), but he was busy with another project, and so there was a scheduling conflict. Although he seemed like he was interested. 

Finally, third, and what I thought was the most interesting revelation, is that he intends to bring the life story of Paul Robeson to the big screen, with him playing the Robeson. He laments the fact that Robeson's legacy seems to have been forgotten, and suggests that he hasn't been given the proper recognition he deserves, given what he accomplished, calling him a personal as well as a national hero.

When asked whether he'd be involved in front of, or behind the camera, White insists that he IS the person to play Robeson, adding that it's a part that he can definitely do justice to.

He further goes on to say that the project is in the works, that he's attached to it, and it's a personal quest for him to see that it gets done. 

Following below, first watch the trailer for Generation Iron, and then after that, watch the full interview with White:

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6 Comments

  • John | November 3, 2012 8:51 AMReply

    Bodybuilding's window of mass appeal passed decades ago. In the internet age, most know now that it is a sport filled with politics, run by supplement companies, rife with ridiculous amounts of drugs and the most unhealthiest of athletes. A male testosterone beauty pagent that's popularity is on the decline, the young generation are not that much interested in injecting huge amounts of GHG, IFG1 and the rest to win a plastic Joe Weider trophy and contract to help make supplement companies rich selling snake oils. Why don't you tell the real story rather than a cheesy 80's styled glory piece and expose the industry right open, now that's something that the population at large in this decade will be interested in.

  • Stacie | October 30, 2012 6:11 PMReply

    I love Paul Robeson and he definitely deserves a biopic. My issue with White is that Robeson was huge, he towered over everyone. We would lose that element. Also, he had a deep speaking and singing voice.

  • Donella | October 30, 2012 3:32 PMReply

    White is a good leader.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | October 29, 2012 9:12 PMReply

    I'll pretend I didn't read anything about a Paul Robeson biopic. I'm the participating BB's are hoping that this sequel of sorts will do for them what "Pumping Iron" did for Arnold. It punched his ticket to fame, but all the other BB's failed to benefit from it (except maybe Ferrigno). Heath's got it made 'cause he's in control of the game right now; the others live hand to mouth or a couple shades better, including Kai Greene who's a perennial challenger (dude lives quite gully). Bodybuilding -- it's a lot like filmmaking. lol

  • Adam Scott Thompson | October 29, 2012 9:13 PM

    *sure

  • Monique a. Williams | October 29, 2012 9:09 PMReply

    Yessssss! Looking forward to the Paul Robeson flick! Good stuff and I am confident that Michael Jai White can handle it!

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