Variety reports that Brian Helgeland and Warner Bros. have taken an unusual turn for their Jackie Robinson-centered 42, casting Chadwick Boseman as the iconic baseball star. (No, me neither.) The actor has spent the majority of his career in random episodes of random TV shows, with the occasional film role, such as The Express, being thrown his way. I don’t think you need me to tell you that this is a huge deal for him.
Not only because he’s playing one of baseball’s most iconic figures, either; Variety also confirms Harrison Ford‘s role as Branch Rickey, the man who signed Robinson into the MLB in 1947 and forever changed the game. When he was rumored just yesterday, many (including myself) didn’t see it happening — if only because the once-iconic actor had relegated himself to easy genre fare or features drowned in sentimentality.
The latter characteristic could easily apply to here, but a straight drama isn’t something we get from him too often; could be a nice change of pace. Boseman‘s lack of exposure makes him another interesting pick, and, simultaneously, a smart one. As I see it, when you’re dealing with a well-known figure like Robinson, it’s best to have an actor who audiences have no previous connection with; the performer can disappear into the role, which, for me, makes a more compelling story.
You can read the full press release below:
Burbank, CA – December 9, 2011 – Legendary Pictures announced today that it has cast Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford to star in the company’s film based upon history’s most celebrated baseball figure, Jackie Robinson.
Boseman will depict the iconic baseball star, paying tribute to the legacy and impact Robinson made when he became the first African American Major League Baseball player.
Ford will star as Branch Rickey, the innovative Major League Baseball executive who is best known for breaking MLB’s color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson to a minor league contract in 1945. Two years later, at the start of the 1947 major league baseball season, Robinson was signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers major league baseball team with the help of Rickey. Rickey was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967.
Chadwick Boseman is best known for his performance in Universal Pictures’ THE EXPRESS. Boseman also just completed a lead in the independent feature KILL HOLE. On television he was a regular on the NBC series Persons Unknown. He is represented by Michael Greene at Greene & Associates, and Melanie Cook of Ziffren Brittenham.
Ford most recently starred in COWBOYS & ALIENS and is best known for starring in the INDIANA JONES and STAR WARS franchises as well as AIR FORCE ONE and THE FUGITIVE. Ford was a Best Actor Oscar® nominee for his role in the 1985 feature film WITNESS. Ford is represented by Jim Berkus at United Talent Agency and Skip Brittenham of Ziffren Brittenham.
Brian Helgeland (LA CONFIDENTIAL / MYSTIC RIVER) will write and direct, with Legendary’s Chairman and CEO, Thomas Tull, producing, and Legendary’s Chief Creative Officer and President, Jon Jashni, serving as executive producer. Dick Cook, former Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, will also serve as an executive producer. Legendary worked early on in development with Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, to ensure the movie adaptation of the famed player’s story is authentic.
Are you happy with this choice for Robinson? What are your thoughts on the confirmation of Ford?
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