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Zoe Saldana Is Reportedly In Talks To Play Eartha Kitt In A Biopic On The Performer's Life

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by Tambay A. Obenson
March 15, 2014 12:49 PM
36 Comments
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I don't know how we missed this, but we did! Better late than never... 

She's already played one pioneering black entertainer on film (specifically, Nina Simone), although the future of that film remains unknown; and now Zoe Saldana is reportedly in talks to play Eartha Kitt in a biopic on the life of the singer, actress, dancer and activist, perhaps best known for her highly distinctive voice, who the late, great Orson Welles (who gave Kitt her first starring role, as Helen of Troy in his staging of Dr. Faustus) once called the "most exciting woman in the world."

Indeed.

A star of stage and screen, with a career that spanned about 60 years, fans will remember when she took over for Julie Newmar and played Catwoman decades before Halle Berry did in that horrendous 2004 movie that many of us would like to forget ever happened.

The multiple award-winning performer died from colon cancer on Christmas Day, December 25, 2008, at her home in Weston, Connecticut.

6 years later, Zoe Saldana is apparently set to portray the lead role in a biopic about the Kitt, according various sources, including Huffington Post, Hollywood.com, Broadway WorldMSN Entertainment and others.

The movie is expected to focus on Kitt's rise to fame through the late 1960s, considered her "peak years," including her very vocal opposition to the war in Vietnam, which, some say, derailed her career.

Unfortunately none of the above sources seems to know who's behind the project (director, producer, production company, etc), so we'll just have to file this one away as an unconfirmed rumor. Although, I recall when we first reported on the news about Saldana starring as Nina Simone, that was also an "unconfirmed rumor."

Zoe Saldana has certainly been in demand, since co-starring in the biggest box-office hit of all time, Avatar. From 2009’s Star Trek reboot, to her starring role as action hero in Colombiana, appearing in the Christian Bale drama Out of the Furnace, and with Bradley Cooper in The Words, with upcoming projects including Marvel’s Guardians of the GalaxyBlood Ties and of course starring as Nina Simone in the upcoming biopic. She's also co-starring in Don Cheadle's long-in-development Miles Davis project (although no word on what character she's signed up to play), and, last year, with her sister Cisely Saldana, inked a first-look deal (via their production company Saldana Productions) with Lionsgate studios. Most recently, she was cast as the lead in NBC’s four-hour miniseries adaptation of Ira Levin's 1967 best-selling suspense novel Rosemary’s Baby - a novel that was also the basis for Roman Polanski's 1968 film of the same name, which starred Mia Farrow as the title character.

Stay tuned...

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36 Comments

  • Eric | June 26, 2014 4:38 AMReply

    I'd love to see a new actress get this part or maybe one that is somewhat known but hasn't been classified as being a superstar yet. This isn't a slight against Saldana but Hollywood in general likes latching on to certain stars and casting them in picture after picture. A picture like this could potentially launch the careers of several new stars or give rising actors the chance to show depth to their abilities. I don't think i'd see anything new about Saldana's acting skills playing Kitt, that I haven't already seen. I don't think she'd blow the role out of the water. She could prove me wrong. I mean Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, Joaquinn Phoenix as Johnny Cash, or Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf did fantastic and while watching them I didn't think, oh that's an actress playing Piaf but rather, that's piaf herself. I like seeing new talents in these biopics. Chadwick Boseman was able to breakout in the film 42 and is in the upcoming James Brown film. Ben Whishaw, while the new Q in the Bond franchise, isn't as huge in the states but him staring as Freddy Mercury (which is happening) would give fans the chance to see something different from him. If Zaldana is going to take it up a notch playing Eartha Kitt, i'm all in, but if she's just going to be in the role because she is who she is, i'd rather see someone else in it.

  • DeeDee | May 26, 2014 1:18 PMReply

    This is not about race or color. Can she do the part? um HELL NO! this is going to be a clown show. Who in the world has a voice like Ms Eartha Kitt? NOBODY but Ms Eartha! Who can role their rrrr's like Ms Kitt without sounding like a FOOL? NOBODY! Sorry bad bad train wreck

  • @IvoryJeff | March 16, 2014 6:22 PMReply

    I'm a longtime Saldana fan, but in THIS role I'd cast Naomie Harris. Or maybe Anika Noni Rose. What say y'all?

  • Akimbo | March 19, 2014 2:24 AM

    Kristen Chenoweth. She's one Darque Tan session away.

  • mia | March 17, 2014 6:00 AM

    First is british, both aren't super great actresses and they don't look Eartha at all. Saldana looks like her, she's a better actress and she's a dancer even.
    The pictures posted here don't give justice to the comparison, especially Zoe one that is photoshoped, look at other pictures of them especially young Eartha

  • lewis payton | March 16, 2014 5:29 PMReply

    I don't get this actress. She is a much better candidate for Eartha than Nina. Clearly white producers with no eye sight!

  • Donella | March 16, 2014 2:31 PMReply

    I definitely feel Zoe Saldana is a good choice for Eartha Kitt.

    As someone mentioned, Saldana's dance training will assist with portraying Kitt's smooth, controlled body movements and sheer grace. Better resemblance, and less of a need for the audience to strain to accept the portrayal.

  • beemooree | March 16, 2014 2:35 AMReply

    Nadia girl and DanyD watch this. http://youtu.be/uFmmL8xrsCg

  • BluTopaz | March 16, 2014 1:07 PM

    "She isn't even as dark as Nina and can't act but apparently no one had a problem with her casting at the time."

    Bull. Simone fans felt that Blige was a wrong choice for various reasons-the main one that she does not have the acting chops. She isn't dark either, but her comments that she was taking acting/diction classes, etc. brought up an old argument: seasoned Black actors are often overlooked for Black singers/rappers purely for superficial reasons.

  • doreangirl | March 16, 2014 6:02 AM

    Nothing so outrageous there. Are we trying to paint all actresses as bad now? because I'm sure you'd have to hate them all since they all say something stupid at one point but few seems to care when you are an American woc it seems. Take Mary J. Blige who was originally cast as Nina Simone and she insulted her by stating that they are alike b/c they are both crazy and drug addicts. She isn't even as dark as Nina and can't act but apparently no one had a problem with her casting at the time.

  • beemooree | March 16, 2014 2:26 AMReply

    DanyD go look on youtube. im not making anything up. Do your research before you try to make a comeback.

  • doreangirl | March 16, 2014 5:53 AM

    Yes, you are. I see nothing wrong in what she says there. Stop projecting.

  • Nadell | March 16, 2014 2:11 AMReply

    First - Nina Simone
    Second - Francis Davis
    Now - Eartha Kitt
    Honestly, who will she portray next???

  • tim.pitt | March 16, 2014 6:09 AM

    So?I see nothing weird about the last 2 she looks the part. She's an actress doing her job should she stop accepting roles? How can poc build a career for themselves? Do have a problem with say Will Smith too? He gets all the roles!

  • Bforreal | March 16, 2014 12:34 AMReply

    Now, this is a good fit and makes sense (unlike the Nina Simone choice). She even resembles Eartha in her attitude and demeanor.

  • CareyCarey | March 15, 2014 11:31 PMReply

    I see somebody is scratching at the wrong door. That be the house in which Nadia lives.

    I quote "Ugh! Please let's not start this whole silly debate all over again. Please. It comes up every time there's a post about Zoe Saldana. Y'all don't get tired?" ~ Nadia

    Hello! And as Miles Ellison said "Here we go [again]." But apparently some folks just don't know when they're walking in quicksand.

    @ Nadia, handle yo business girl, school the younguns!

  • chris-leo | March 15, 2014 9:30 PMReply

    the more i look, the more the resemblance is obvious. both also have dance training and that kind of body language. and zoe's got real chops. it's a no-brainer.

  • Africameleon | March 15, 2014 7:29 PMReply

    Loved Ertha Kitt, she was a Carolina girl like me. Roll those r's baby, "Prrr-fect." This is a good fit, and good choice.

    I've browsed some of the comments, and I think Saldana could definitely relate to Kitt (who was half black-cherokee and white). Kitt actually had many struggles coming up because of her mixed heritage, but as an adult she was fierce, and told Mrs. Nixon to go to hell and pointed the way. She was brave, and not without a price. [ Please read her biography. ] People have issues with Saldana's blackness. I think Zaldana can channel her own experiences with the backlash against her casting as Simone, and other comments made toward her as a Black Latina, and make the Kitt role multi-textured and complex.

    OAN... Black people get to be more than one thing, we have multiple identities. I'm not into superficial "boundary maintinence" or the idea that one can "authenticate" another's blackness or not. That's something passed down from slavery, and it's white supremacist Euro-centrist thinking. If by your definition she's NOT black, then I'm sure she IS black by someone elses. We are a multi hued, multi experienced people. That's why we're so beautiful.

    I hope the film will not be a "re-imagining" of Kitt's life. I'd hope that it was taken from Kitt's biography and not made into a pop-corn movie like the Simone project. But that's wishful thinking.

    Now, off my soap box.

  • Tara | March 15, 2014 7:19 PMReply

    E.Kitt was mixed race.. Zoe is Afro-Latina are we really going to pretend they're not the same kind of black and she's doesn't resemble her a bit? She's a good actress too. Bye people... You got my support for Nina but the faux outrage here? Nope.

  • EM | March 15, 2014 6:49 PMReply

    As a Black Woman who's parents hail from Venezuela and Panama the comments on this post have completely thrown me. Zoe has said time and time again in numerous interviews that she identifies as black. I don't even understand why ppl are pressed on her "claiming" or "denying" it...it's the most obvious thing about her. Men and women of African decent can be found all over the world (not just in the u.s.) especially in latin america and the carribean. Why all this anger and hate towards her? Just because her ancestors suffered in D.R. doesn't make her heritage any less valid than those whose ancestors suffered in Mississippi or Alabama or whever else. Read a history book people.

  • danyd | March 15, 2014 7:05 PM

    she's not black enough to them and they think she's a woc only when convenient TO THEM but then she's not anymore when she gets a chance to play a woc like her, that she can't do must leave the chance to the real woc (dark-skinned). That's the shit you get for being her shade of black even if her african ancestry is more obvious than others. People had hated her and denied her blackness way before the Nina Simone thing. They resent woc like her

  • mia | March 15, 2014 6:39 PMReply

    Just look at some pictures, she'd be be a good choice she does look like a young miss Kitt. She's a dancer and can sing. Better casting than Nina!

  • g | March 15, 2014 4:47 PMReply

    Black when convenient and advantageous. smmfh.

  • F | March 15, 2014 5:30 PM

    Black all the time as stated in her interviews. learn to read.

  • Carl | March 15, 2014 4:37 PMReply

    Anyone who says she is not black needs to pick up a book or Google slave trade to the Caribbean.

    If you cared about knowledge as much as you do mediatakeout and worldhiphop you wouldn't come here making dumb ass, house negro statements like a Afro-Latina is not black. Grow a brain. White racist can sit home and chill with your dumbass.

  • Zaneta | March 15, 2014 3:37 PMReply

    Zoe doesn't have the gravitas to play Eartha, unfortunately Hollywood seems to be lazy in their research.

  • Alias | March 16, 2014 12:44 AM

    @ Zaneta - I completely agree. Eartha Kitt was a one of a kind. A character, in the best sense of the word. And her amazing beautiful voice and the smooth, sexy (can we say female swagger) in which she carried herself. ...well, Zoe just doesn't have the chops to REALISTICALLY, carry this off. ... My vote would be -- wait for it -- Jasmine Guy!!! OMG!! if there's anyone who could zing this role, it's Jasmine. She favors Kitt (facially and in stature) and is great at embodying the essence of her characters.

    It feels like Hollywood is TRYING to push Zoe onto the masses -- black and white --
    and yet no one is buying it. I know she makes a lot of movies, but outside of Avatar,
    which really doesn't have anything to do with her (anyone could have played that role)
    and Star Trek, what's she really known for? I don't know anyone who ever says, "Oh,
    have you seen X, Y, Z film with Zoe Saldana?" ... There's simply nothing about her, or the
    movies that she's in," which lend themselves to being proprietary in nature.

  • Miles Ellison | March 15, 2014 3:35 PMReply

    Here we go.

  • beemooree | March 15, 2014 3:17 PMReply

    Nadia you must be incompetent. I know you can be black and latino. I am 1. My point is Zoe is BLACK when convenient. How dare her be honored by Essence and tell the media that "essence is a magazine geared toward black ppl but im latina but it doesn't matter that they're honoring me". I've heard her say shes black before. good try though

  • danyd | March 15, 2014 6:50 PM

    Making up fake quotes too now? That's desperate. Use better grammar if you want them to look real at least

  • Carl | March 15, 2014 4:39 PM

    Do you post anything that DOESN'T show you as stupid?!

  • Nadia | March 15, 2014 4:12 PM

    In my "incompetence" I found many links to Zoe confirming her blackness to all kinds of media outlets reaching all skin colors of people. You're going to have to send me a direct link to that quote you say she made, because I've never heard it, and I can't find it anywhere. I searched.

    But let me point you directly to a few that I found:

    - Zoe Saldana in Allure magazine: 'I Will Honor And Respect My Black Community Because That's Who I Am'

    - Zoe Saldana years before all the Nina Simone backlash: “When I go to the D.R., the press in Santo Domingo always asks, “¿Qué te consideras, dominicana o americana?” (What do you consider yourself, Dominican or American?) I don’t understand it, and it’s the same people asking the same question. So I say, time and time again, “Yo soy una mujer negra.” (“I am a black woman.”) [They go,] “Oh, no, tú eres trigueñita.” (“Oh no, you are ‘dark skinned’”) I’m like, “No! Let’s get it straight, yo soy una mujer negra.” (“I am a black woman).”

    - Video of Zoe Saldana expressing how proud she is to be black Latino woman: http://youtu.be/S4i6v5Xph3Q

    Your turn.

  • Beemooree | March 15, 2014 1:06 PMReply

    Ugh she's not black!....... Ok well technically she is but she is black when she wants to be. Next

  • danyd | March 15, 2014 6:47 PM

    You mean some woc think she's black only when convenient TO POC b/c she's a woc who plays characters that could have been white. But then some fellow woc think she's not black enough to play herself: a black girl. Hypocrisy.

  • Nadia | March 15, 2014 2:08 PM

    Ugh! Please let's not start this whole silly debate all over again. Please. It comes up every time there's a post about Zoe Saldana. Y'all don't get tired? Apparently no. The woman has publicly claimed her blackness on many occasions already. It is possible to be black and Latino, you know that right? SMH.

  • @JayTeeDee | March 15, 2014 1:04 PMReply

    Now this one I can see, Zoe is beautiful and Eartha Kitt was a stone cold fox in her younger days. But the key is the voice.

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