Eddie Murphy & Usher Approached To Play James Brown In Long Gestating Biopic

by Kevin Jagernauth
April 4, 2011 8:39 AM
10 Comments
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Dr. Yanna Brown Also Likes Chris Brown For The Part



A James Brown biopic isn't new, in fact, it's quite old. Way back in 2006, Paramount and Imagine Entertainment brought on Spike Lee to direct the film that he would also rewrite, adding another pen to a draft that had already been through a number of hands including Steve Baigelman ("Feeling Minnesota") who got it rolling and Jezz and John Henry Butterworth ("Fair Game") who did the most "recent" draft. Word on the project has pretty much been quiet since but it appears that movement is still happening sort of.

Shadow and Act recently came across an interview (which you can watch below) with the daughter of the Godfather Of Soul, Dr. Yanna Brown, who spilled on where the project is right now, and most importantly, who may be up for the lead. For the longest time, Wesley Snipes was up for the lead role but he's got a number of legal problems right now so a couple of other candidates have apparently taking meetings with Brown, confirming they've reached out to Eddie Murphy and uh, Usher.

Murphy being approached is a bit ironic since the actor himself endorsed Snipes for the part a couple of years ago, during an interview with Conan O'Brien. "I think Wesley Snipes could play a great James Brown. Really, Wesley Snipes is a wonderful act," Murphy said. "Before the karate movies and stuff when Wesley first got into the movies, he did drama and comedy, he does everything. And he turned into the action dude, but Wesley has all the talent... James Brown isn't just singing and splits, you gotta be able to act, you gotta get chased in a car in a crack haze and shot at. Wesley could pull that off, you need to be an actor."

Well, with Usher in the mix, apparently that "being an actor" thing isn't such a big deal. Dr. Yanna Brown also said she liked Chris Brown for the role, after being impressed by his performance of "Night Train" at the Grammy Awards a few years ago. But yeah, we don't see that happening. We presume Spike Lee is still attached to direct and he said years ago that in his film, he wants whoever to take the lead to lip sync to James Brown's iconic songs. But with Usher being approached, perhaps that perspective has changed.

We hope this thing finally comes to fruition if only because James Brown's life is stuff made for the big screen, and with Spike Lee at the helm it has the potential to be fantastic, but it looks like they're still trying to nail down that lead actor just yet.

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10 Comments

  • Chahn Chess | August 27, 2012 2:45 PMReply

    Why not use the man whom James Brown himself endorsed and chose him to play JB in a couple of documentaries and said he was passing the baton to him. Check him out on You Tube; his name is Tony Wilson, then get back with me; I am his Project Manager. Absolutely none is a better choice than him!....chahnclaudechess@gmail,com

  • mike | March 4, 2012 11:19 PMReply

    I agree that it should be Eddie's gig, but i also am aware of James Brown impersonators as well. These guys perform routinely day in and day out. Someone should narrarow it down see if they have the ability to pull off the Jame Brown swagger in a movie role and this way, someone unknown gets a shot at the big time. Could lead on to more things in the future, who knows....

  • Tech1 | December 1, 2011 12:48 PMReply

    Hmm Welsey Snipes would be the logical choice, Jamie foxx could do a real good job but I believe James Brown wanted Eddie Murphy to do it. ( He would be the next logical choice besides Welsey Snipes if he could handle it emotionally, I believe he feel an attached to James Brown that why hes backing away from it)

  • Bunnie | April 19, 2011 1:42 AMReply

    I'd like to see Jamie Foxx in this role. He had me convinced he was Ray Charles despite zero physical resemblance and I know he could pull this off.

  • Correta | April 8, 2011 6:23 AMReply

    Eddie's totally right! This is a serious bio-pic that will take some serious acting job to pull this one off right.. To portray the life of "The Godfather of SOUL"? Let me tell you, the one brotha who's classically trained to ACT and also has the the kind of physicality and energy to play James Brown is the brotha, Wesley Snipes! That brotha can sing, dance and ACT period!!!! Who gives damn about his legal issues, he is one of the greatest black actor there is in America period!!!
    If they really are going to put a singer to play this role, Hollywood really has gone mad.

  • Tyrone | April 7, 2011 11:25 AMReply

    I think Usher can play the young James Brown and Eddie Murphy can play the older version...

  • Tim | April 5, 2011 7:15 AMReply

    There is only one who can really pull that off and that is WESLEY SNIPES!!!!!! I hope they don't go and produce a B-rated movie and spoil the project with good talents like Eddie or Usher. I love Eddie in all of his Comedy pieces and I love Usher's music and dance. They both are great talents in their league but not for James Brown.
    WESLEY SNIPES is it for JB! I heard that James Brown even approved Snipes to play his role if the movie about him was to be made when he was alive. So get WESLEY SNIPES! He can totally pull this off and I would love to see him doing his thing again. He belongs to the big screen!

  • Rufus | April 5, 2011 1:34 AMReply

    I wish Eddie Murphy would do it. He could pull it off for sure.

  • Rashad | April 4, 2011 11:16 AMReply

    Eddie has the right charisma for it

  • Kintaro West | April 4, 2011 10:32 AMReply

    No and FUCK NO!!!! Chris Brown is more "Smack My Bitch Up" than "Sex Machine"......just leave this project alone!

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