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'42's' Chadwick Boseman to play James Brown in biopic

August 27, 2013|by Rebecca Keegan
  • Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed Jackie Robinson in "42," will play James Brown in a biopic of the soul singer that begins filming this fall.
Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed Jackie Robinson in "42," will… (Matt McClain / Getty Images )

Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in "42," will portray James Brown in an untitled biopic of the soul singer.

"The Help" director Tate Taylor will helm the Universal Pictures movie from a script by "Fair Game" writers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth. Brian Grazer will produce, as will another backer who knows a thing or two about stage presence -- Mick Jagger, under his Jagged Films banner.

The long-gestating project, which has been in the works since before Brown died in 2006, will chart the singer's ascent from poverty in Augusta, Ga., to his place as the Godfather of Soul, tirelessly performing such hit songs as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "I Got You (I Feel Good)."

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With his performance as Robinson earlier this year, Boseman demonstrated the necessary charisma to play an iconic figure -- that movie went on to gross a strong $95 million at the domestic box office, and Boseman earned praise from critics for the tenacity of his portrayal.

"The actor brings real force and dignity to the part, as well as a fierceness that will not be pushed around," Kenneth Turan wrote in the Los Angeles Times.

In an interview with The Times in January, Boseman described playing the ground-breaking Brooklyn Dodger as a high-stakes endeavor -- one likely to be matched by his new gig.

"It's intimidating because everybody has their interest in who he is," Boseman said of playing Robinson. "He's a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And none of them are necessarily the correct thing."

The Brown biopic will begin filming in Mississippi this fall.


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