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Newcomer Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford Lock Lead Roles In Brian Helgeland's Jackie Robinson Biopic '42'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist December 9, 2011 at 8:19PM

Oh, Harrison Ford. As we documented in our Essentials feature in the summer, it's a long time since the actor, once one of the most reliable stars in Hollywood, has been on form. And it seems that every potential comeback, from "Hollywood Homicide" and "Crossing Over" to last year's "Morning Glory" and this year's "Cowboys & Aliens" has fallen short, even when, as in the last two cases, the actor's seemed to made more of an effort not to sleepwalk through the picture. 
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Jackie Robinson 42

Oh, Harrison Ford. As we documented in our Essentials feature in the summer, it's a long time since the actor, once one of the most reliable stars in Hollywood, has been on form. And it seems that every potential comeback, from "Hollywood Homicide" and "Crossing Over" to last year's "Morning Glory" and this year's "Cowboys & Aliens" has fallen short, even when, as in the last two cases, the actor's seemed to made more of an effort not to sleepwalk through the picture. 

The actor's still searching for that elusive non-Indy comeback role, and this week has seen some potentials circling, with the star being linked to the elder role in Gavin Hood's sci-fi epic "Ender's Game." Ben Kingsley took that part, but Ford's seemed to take a far more interesting role, as a press release obtained by Deadline revealed that Ford has signed on to the Jackie Robinson biopic, "42," a film he was rumored to be circling yesterday. 

Set to be written and directed by Brian Helgeland ("Payback," "A Knight's Tale," as well as winning an Oscar for co-writing "L.A. Confidential"), the film will tell the story of Robinson, the first black baseball player to play in the Major Leagues, with Ford set to take on the role of Brooklyn Dodgers exec Branch Rickey, who signed Robinson to the team, a role that Jack Nicholson and Robert Redford had previously been circling.

And Ford's not alone, as the release confirms the news broken by Variety earlier this evening that relative newcomer Chadwick Boseman will play Robinson himself, beating contenders like Columbus Short ("The Losers") and Michael B. Jordan ("Friday Night Lights") to the part. The 29-year-old actor's probably best known for football drama "The Express," but has also had recurring roles in TV shows "Lincoln Heights" and "Persons Unknown," and most recently appeared in an episode of "Fringe." 

We can't speak for Boseman, but this seems like exactly the kind of part that Ford should be doing after a drought. Legendary Pictures is producing the film, which had Jackie's widow Rachel Robinson consulting in its early stages. There's no exact word on when filming will start, but we assume it'll be early next year. Could it be completed in time to play into the awards season?

This article is related to: 42 (Jackie Robinson Biopic), Harrison Ford, Brian Helgeland, Chadwick Boseman


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