Universal Has Cast Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in Biopic

By August 27, 2013


Chadwick Boseman has been a professional actor for a decade, but it wasn’t until this year’s Jackie Robinson biopic 42 that he was given an opportunity to headline a Hollywood movie. I never saw 42, but Boseman’s performance was praised in just about every piece of writing I read about it. Having successfully stepped into the cleats of Jackie Robinson, now Boseman is looking to fill the shoes of another iconic personality: James Brown.

Variety says Tate Taylor (The Help) will direct and produce a biopic about the Godfather of Soul, with Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer on board to produce. Apparently this is a passion project for Grazer, who has been trying to get this film made since 2001.

James Brown

42 was definitely a star-making opportunity for Boseman. His name started popping up on fantasy casting lists for the Marvel superhero Black Panther (which the studio is supposedly developing), and with the baseball biopic grossing over $90 million domestically on a budget of $40 million, he must look pretty good to the bean counters at the studios. I’ve never heard the actor sing, but he better start warming up his pipes if he hopes to accurately portray Brown’s legendary voice.

The thing that concerns me here isn’t Boseman and his abilities, but the overall angle of this biopic. How many times have we seen stories about musicians battling addictions, domestic troubles, and financial difficulties? (Enough for the Apatow crew to parody those kinds of biopics in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, that’s for sure.) Taylor and his team are going to have to bring something fresh to the way they tell Brown’s life story to hook audiences, because as many fans of Brown as there are out there, the formulaic approach to these biopics is likely wearing down the patience of moviegoers.

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at ScreenRant.com, FirstShowing.net, MySpace.com, GeekTyrant.com, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.