There have been rumblings of a James Brown biopic for more than a decade, but last night all those rumblings finally came together in a blast of furious funky fervor. Director Tate Taylor (of The Help) first joined the project almost two years ago, and now Variety is reporting that Chadwick Boseman, who recently played Jackie Robinson in 42, has been cast as the Godfather of Soul.
Immediately afterwards, the film was greenlit. Immediately after that, Tate announced that the film would be shot in Mississippi (although Brown was born in South Carolina and raised in Georgia). The film will, like Ray and Walk the Line and so many other musician biopics before it, follow Brown’s impoverished childhood and rise to the top of the charts.
So the James Brown movie is finally getting made. But, as with any on-screen portrayal of a musician, the question must be asked: will Boseman be singing, or will Brown’s vocals be piped in after the fact? There’s no answer yet, but I’d put my money on lip-synch. Brown’s infectious energy will be difficult enough to capture, and unlike Jamie Foxx or Joaquin Phoenix, Boseman will have to spend hours upon hours (upon weeks, upon months) mastering Brown’s fanciful footwork. That alone might get him some serious recognition. God forbid he uses any kind of foot double.