Jackie Robinson, James Brown — and now, Thurgood Marshall.
If there were a king of biopics, that man would probably be Chadwick Boseman.
In Entertainment Weekly‘s fall movie preview, the Black Panther actor sounds off on portraying historical figures and why he’s drawn to these roles. ”
Boseman said, “All of them were different situations. I think with Marshall, the difference in it is that I had already said I was not looking to play a real person and especially not an important real person, a famous real person. He could’ve been somebody [whose] story we didn’t know, or some character we dug up from history that we weren’t aware of. But, to play Thurgood Marshall was just not in my scope, not in my focus. I was convinced of it because of the script, and I was convinced of it because [director Reginald Hudlin] essentially kept talking to me about it and [producer] Paula Wagner kept talking to me about it.”
Although he doesn’t necessarily look like Marshall, Boseman said he was convinced by them to take on the role. “I didn’t feel like I looked like the character, but they convinced me that this story was not about his whole life; it was more about this particular case. How he looked, which may be a factor in other iterations of his story, if it was a longer version, it didn’t matter as much in this one. So, I think it was all those factors that drew me specifically to this one. The other two [roles had] small things. It’s not like I’m necessarily looking for important black figures. Like James Brown, it just kept calling me at a certain point when I saying no; it was like James Brown was calling me himself. And Jackie Robinson, there was no way in the world I wasn’t going to do that. So, it was sought after not just by me but by a lot of people. They all were a little bit different in how they came to me.”
You can read the full interview over at Entertainment Weekly.
Synopsis: As the nation teeters on the brink of WWII, a nearly bankrupt NAACP sends Marshall to conservative Connecticut to defend a black chauffeur against his wealthy socialite employer in a sexual assault and attempted murder trial that quickly became tabloid fodder. In need of a high profile victory but muzzled by a segregationist court, Marshall is partnered with Samuel Friedman, a young Jewish lawyer who has never tried a case. Marshall and Friedman struggle against a hostile storm of fear and prejudice, driven to discover the truth in the sensationalized trial which helped set the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement to come.
Joining Boseman in front of the camera are Sterling K. Brown as Joseph Spell, the defendant at the center of the above case; Keesha Sharp plays Buster Marshall, Thurgood’s wife; and Josh Gad is Samuel Friedman, the young Jewish lawyer who partners with Marshall on the case.
Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens and James Cromwell round out the starring cast.
Paula Wagner is producing through her Chestnut Ridge Productions banner along with Jonathan Sanger and Hudlin.
The film is produced with the full cooperation of the Thurgood Marshall and Samuel Friedman estates.
It is due in theaters this October.