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Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer Will Play James Brown's Mother And Aunt In Biopic

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by Tambay A. Obenson
September 30, 2013 3:30 PM
6 Comments
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Universal has set the theatrical release date for its James Brown biopic, titled Get On Up, for FridayOctober 172014.

Chadwick Boseman is set to play Brown in the Tate Taylor directed film.

Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer were previously rumored to be in talks to reunite with their The Help director, to take supporting roles in the film.

It's been officially announced today that both actresses are indeed going to appear in the film, with Viola Davis playing Susie Brown, James Brown's mother; and Octavia Spencer will play his aunt, Anne Tunney

True Blood star, Nelsan Ellis, was also rumored to be in director Taylor's sights for a supporting role, but no confirmation of that yet.

Shooting begins this fall, with Brian Grazer producing alongside Mick Jagger, for Universal Pictures.

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

This is a film that Spike Lee was previously long-attached to direct, but was replaced by Tate Taylor earlier this year.

Promising a warts and all telling of Brown's life story on film, 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).

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6 Comments

  • CareyCarey | September 30, 2013 9:01 PMReply

    Nope, I'm not gonna do it! I mean, I think I've shared enough of my disdain for this project, so it's time I give it a break.

    But wait, I've been wondering what white folks think about this project. Well, I ventured over to IndieWires "other" blogs to take a look.

    WARNING! White folks cus too *lol*

    The first is from The Playlist. "With the director of The Help, it'll be another fu*kin' sanitized movie about a black icon. These people make me sick. Tate Taylor fu*k off. Go make movies about white people stop trying to make black history "safe" to a mainstream white audience. Have you no shame??" ~ Frankie

    Hey, I hear ya Frankie. And then there was Jay... "So many filmmakers to choose from; in addition to Spike Lee, Bill Condon, Eastwood, Burnett, heck even Taylor Hackford. Tate Taylor? Epic fail" ~ Jay

    Yep, I concur on Hackford. In reference to Octavia & Viola, over at Thompson On Hollywood, TIM C. had this to say... "Considering both their Oscar clout, I would think that Davis and Spencer would share the lead status with Boseman."

    Now listen, when I heard Davis and Spencer were attached I thought "Oh Shit! There goes the neighborhood." I'm serious, listen, the movie went from James Brown's vision of "I'm Black And I'm Proud" to "Papa's Gotta Brand New Bag Full Of Maids". I mean, although I'm being a bit facetious, the begging question is , does James Brown's mother and aunt warrant Oscar Nominated Actresses? Okay, I guess the devil's in the details but this whole project leaves a foul taste in my mouth.

    Speaking of the stinky boo-boo in my mouth, I think I've said enough about my lack of enthusiasm for Chadwick Boseman. Yep, I have to rest my case on that one........... .... ...................... but before I go, I do have one more thing on my mind. 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 Gumby. Sure, his character in Dreamgirls was entertaining, but for me, he was a caricature. And, while watching Dreamgirls I always saw "Eddie Murphy", not the character he was playing. Btw, his character 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 or Wesley Snipes should be down in Mississippi right now. Jamie KILLED the damn thang in Dreamgirls and Ray. In he Dreamgirls was the best thang smokin' outside of Jennifer Hudson's singing. And, he WAS Ray Charles... looks, body & soul!

    Anyway, I read an interesting article this morning. The title read "Grave Robbers Suspected". It appears there's been reports of strange voices in Hollywood's cemeteries. Well, come to find out, Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone and 2Pac jumped up from their cooling boards and ran out the back gate when they heard a white man say "who's next?"

  • SAVANNAH MORGAN | September 30, 2013 7:35 PMReply

    @hmmm... you gotta copy of the script?? You trying to share, I need a good read!!

  • carolyn | July 24, 2014 12:18 PM

    I don't think this Movie is going to be a open night sellout. Just from the sneak preview I would not waste my money to go and see it. One reason the guy that's playing James Brown did not get into the full effect of James Brown like Jamie Foxx did in the movie Ray.

  • Hmmmm... | September 30, 2013 6:18 PMReply

    The script is not what I thought it would be..........

  • Um | September 30, 2013 5:46 PMReply

    Snooze. This on Tate Taylor's Hell loving hands is suspect.

  • ojie | September 30, 2013 4:44 PMReply

    Fantastic news!

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