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Thursday, February 21, 2013
Never saw him act.
So he wasn’t exactly a safe bet to star in a major studio film about one of the most important figures in the history of American sports. But as the St. Louis Cardinals celebrated their playoff win on the field, he suddenly felt their euphoria. “I’m about to play Jackie Robinson,” he told a friend at the bar. The pal gave him an incredulous look, and Boseman filled him in on the audition and his sudden certitude. A few other friends joined the conversation, and they all decided to toast Boseman for his role: one that he didn’t have yet and probably would never get.
Except that he did. ...
The casting details:
For 42, Brian Helgeland, the writer and director (he also wrote Mystic River and L.A. Confidential, for which he won an Oscar), wanted an unknown actor in the lead. “I just have a much easier time buying into the whole thing when the actor is not very well known,” he explains, arguing that otherwise, “the audience is trying to get past the person they know and into the movie.”
This time Boseman nailed the audition—in part, Helgeland recalls, by opening with a particularly harrowing scene: an infamous incident in which Ben Chapman, manager of the rival Philadelphia Phillies, hurled a series of brutal epithets at Robinson during a game against the Dodgers. Enraged but stone-faced in public, the ballplayer smashed a bat and erupted in tears once off the field. “It was such a brave choice,” the director says, “and I thought right away, This is the guy.”
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