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First Lady Michelle Obama, Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman Talk Jackie Robinson Biopic '42' in Student Workshop

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood April 2, 2013 at 2:57PM

First Lady Michelle Obama Tuesday welcomed the cast and crew of upcoming Jackie Robinson biopic "42," starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford, along with 80 high school and college students from across the country, to take part in an interactive workshop in Washington DC. Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow, and Ford, Boseman and director Brian Helgeland led a discussion with the students on the themes and issues of race in the film.
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Chadwick Boseman as Robinson in '42'
Chadwick Boseman as Robinson in '42'

First Lady Michelle Obama Tuesday welcomed the cast and crew of upcoming Jackie Robinson biopic "42," starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford, along with 80 high school and college students from across the country, to take part in an interactive workshop in Washington DC. Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow, and Ford, Boseman and director Brian Helgeland led a discussion with the students on the themes and issues of race in the film.

Boseman ("Fringe," "Justified") stars as Robinson while Ford plays the legendary baseball player's mentor and Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey; the film chronicles how the duo broke the sport's pernicious color barrier. A recent "Time" feature calls it "often superficial but always well-acted."

Most disturbing about the "Time" story is its revelation that since an all-time high of 27% representation in the major leagues in 1975, African-American players dipped to 8% last year. Like the American population, Latino players have surged and are now over 25%. Fewer players means fewer African-Americans in the stands at ball parks, too. The recession and soaring ballpark ticket prices haven't helped.

Writer-turned-director Helgeland is best known for adapting "L.A. Confidential," for which he won the screenplay Oscar, as well as Tony Scott's "Man on Fire" and Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River." Of the films he directed, Mel Gibson thriller "Payback" was best received by global audiences.

First Lady Obama has taken an active role in film culture as of late, announcing "Argo" as Best Picture winner at the 2013 Oscars.

The Warner Bros. film hits theaters on April 12. Trailer below.

A few highlights from the student workshop included:

  • The First Lady encouraged all Americans to see “42” and praised Jackie for meeting hatred with decency, and Rachel, his wife, for being Jackie’s equal in every way.
  • Producer Thomas Tull said “42” is the most important movie Legendary will ever make.
  • Harrison Ford said “The telling of [this] story for me was a great honor.”
  • Rachel Robinson said about Thomas that he made her believe and feel confident that he could make this movie.  She went on to say, “He had the courage to do it.”


This article is related to: News, Harrison Ford, Michelle Obama, Brian Helgeland, News


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.