I’d file this one under “unconfirmed” for now.
The New York Post is reporting that rapper/actor Common is being considered to star in a Broadway revival of The Great White Hope – the 1967 play written by Howard Sackler, later adapted in 1970 to a film of the same name, which was directed by Martin Ritt, and stared James Earl Jones, who also starred in the Broadway version, and won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. He was also nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the film.
His co-star on both stage and screen, Jane Alexander, also won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play.
Now it appears Common (aka Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr.) wants his chance at critical acclaim by starring in the role Jones was celebrated for – a fictional life story of real-life boxing champion Jack Johnson, here called Jack Jefferson, who – at the height of the Jim Crow era – became the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion. Ken Burns directed a wonderful 2-part documentary on his life titled Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, which was based on the 2004 nonfiction book of the same name by Geoffrey C. Ward. It’s on home video right now.
The New York Post reports that Common recently read for a handful of producers and investors who are working to bring the play back to Broadway.
According to the Post’s source, the reading went well, adding that Common was “excellent.”
Common is said to be really eager to play the part and has even offered to help finance the production!
I’m certainly not one to knock anyone’s dreams, but, as an actor, I’d say that Common definitely has some growing to do before he tackles Broadway. But that certainly hasn’t stopped Broadway producers before – especially recently – as celebrity and ticket sales trump actual talent and production values.