James Brown Biopic: Chadwick Boseman to Conjure Yet Another Late Celeb

Movie TalkAugust 27, 2013
Universal Sets ‘42’ Star Chadwick Boseman To Play James Brown

From a baseball legend ... to the Godfather of Soul.

He hit a home run with his performance as Brooklyn Dodgers great Jackie Robinson in this spring's "42," and now Chadwick Boseman is trading the life of an athlete for that of a singer-dancer as he's set to play renowned R&B artist James Brown, according to Variety.

The long-in-development project will chronicle the life of the famous musician, from his childhood of extreme poverty in rural Georgia to his international superstar status as a performer of several R&B hits, including "Please, Please, Please," "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "The Payback," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and, of course, "(Get Up I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine."

One can hope that his appearance as the pre-show entertainer of the Creed vs. Drago fight in "Rocky IV" (1985) will be recreated in the film. What would the mid-'80s be without "Living in America," after all?

[Related: '42' Five Film Facts: Jackie Robinson Meets Harrison Ford’s Gutsiest Character Yet]

One of James Brown's last on-screen performances was as a 'What If?' version of himself in Tony Scott's "The Hire: Beat the Devil," one of several short films commissioned by BMW in 2002 and starring Clive Owen as the mysterious 'Driver.' The film revealed that Brown owes his success to a deal with Lucifer himself, played as a fey cockney punk (or something) by Gary Oldman.

At the end of "The Hire: Beat the Devil," Brown was granted a second youth; in reality, he died on Christmas Day in 2006 at the age of 73.

Meanwhile, Chadwick Boseman is on a roll with playing influential African American figures of the 20th century. There have been many contenders for the role of James Brown over the years as the project has been stuck in development, including Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes.

The currently untitled James Brown biopic (how about "Godfather of Soul"?) is set to be directed by Tate Taylor, making it his first feature film since "The Help" (2011). Chadwick Boseman will next be seen in director Ivan Reitman's sports drama, "Draft Day," co-starring Kevin Costner, Frank Langella and Jennifer Costner, which will open sometime in 2014.