He was the king of reggae, a Jamaican music giant whose life was cut short in 1981 at the age of 36. Now Bob Marley will be celebrated on the big screen with a film that will be shot in London and Jamaica this fall.
Kingsley Ben-Adir, a rising star of British cinema and theater, whose previous roles include Malcolm X in One night in Miamiwill play Marley in the movie Paramount.
The director who distributed it is Reinaldo Marcus Green, after the success of his debut as studio director, King Richard, in which Will Smith played Richard Williams, who coached his daughters Venus and Serena to become tennis superstars. He received six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, with a Best Actor victory for Smith.
Green told the Observer who, in Marley’s casting, chose an actor rather than a musician: “I was more interested in his performance. The same way I approached it King Richardthe two young actresses who play Venus and Serena [Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton] he had no sporting ability. It’s about being great actors, and then training. “
Ben-Adir, one of the nominees for the rising star award at the 2021 Baftas, also played Colonel Ben Younger on the BBC. Peaky Blinders.
Green said, “I was amazed at his audition tape. It was exquisite. I looked at his other work again and realized how strong he is as a performer.”
Marley, born to a black mother and a white father, came out of poverty, began her singing career in the 1960s with the vocal group The Wailers, and became one of the best-selling artists of all time. Poverty and oppression, along with dignity and hope, were among the themes of enduring successes, such as Get Up, Stand Up; Don’t give, don’t cry; and You could be loved. His spiritual beliefs in the Jamaican Rastafarian religious movement inspired him to defend the poor and the dispossessed.
Green said Ben-Adir is also of mixed race, among “key traits that are so important in casting”: “Then it’s about performance and ideas. on paper, but he can immerse himself in the world of Bob and the people around him, understanding everything from how to pick up the guitar to what it’s like to be a musician.
“It simply came to our notice then. There may be a combination of real voice and real songs. You can’t imitate Bob Marley. You have to have the essence of who he was.
He added that in addition to reading books about Marley and watching and listening to her performances, “she will let her fingers bleed as she tries to learn to play the guitar and take the method to a whole new level.”
Green, born in the year of Marley’s death, won the Special Jury Prize for First Featured Feature at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival for his film Monsters and menan acclaimed hard-hitting drama about young African Americans.
He said the box office success of Bohemian Rhapsody – which won Rami Malek an Oscar for her portrayal of Queen singer Freddie Mercury – has made filmmakers realize the audience’s huge appetite for films about musicians: “Leonard is being created this year. Bernstein. Also, the Grateful Dead biopic by Elvis Presley, Madonna and Martin Scorsese … There is an explosion of musical biopics. Bohemian set the bar in terms of scope. “
Green has written the screenplay with Zach Baylin, who received an Oscar nomination for his King Richard script.
He also collaborates with Marley’s children, including his sons Ziggy and Stephen and his daughter Cedella, as well as those closest to him: and Bob’s closest circle. to fill any blanks. We look forward to getting the notes right. “
He spoke of the family’s concern for Marley to be portrayed “in a way that feels authentic and meaningful”: “We talk all the time. Every step of the way, the script, the casting, the hair, the make-up ”.
Instead of making a biopic that spans a lifetime, the film will focus on the 1970s, when Marley survived an assassination attempt in Jamaica and fled to London, where she recorded her album. Exoduswith hits including Jamming, Three Little Birds and One Love.
Although he will celebrate his life, he will portray a “flawed and complex” man with “so many contradictions,” Green said. But we want to show all aspects of Bob, including his toughness, without sugaring anything. “
He added: “I want this to be for people who know and love Bob, and who can still discover things about his life that they didn’t know, as well as introducing him to a new generation.”