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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Casting Bob Marley: Developing Biopic Inspires These Five Star Picks

In the news today is word of an upcoming Bob Marley biopic from Emmy-nominated director Jenny Ash. The story of the celebrated Rastafarian reggae singer has never been committed to film, though two other projects are reportedly in the works. One had Martin Scorsese attached, though he dropped out, supposedly to be replaced by Jonathan Demme. The other, an adaptation of the book "No Woman No Cry: My Life With Bob Marley," is in development at The Weinstein Company. Little has been heard on either project since 2008.
Deadline reports today that Ash, who is up for an Emmy for her work on "America - The Story of Us," is developing a film focused on Marley's year spent in London, in 1977. It was a pivotal time for the reggae singer, as it was the year he was diagnosed with the cancer that would be the cause of his death in 1981. It was also the year that Marley had an affair with Jamaican beauty queen Cindy Breakspeare. Deadline writes that Ash "sees the biopic as a love triangle between Marley, his wife Rita and Breakspeare, whom Ash has spent time with in Jamaica."

Nothing beyond Ash and producer Greenacre Films is confirmed. Deadline suggests Ashley Walters ("Get Rich or Die Tryin'") for the Marley role. A good choice no question, but I have a few ideas of my own.
Jeffrey Wright
Visually it's a bit of a stretch, but Jeffrey Wright is a talented actor. That's really the most important thing; if he can capture the spirit of the role, audiences will buy it even though the resemblance feels a little off. Just check out his performance in HBO's "Angels in America." He can pull this off.
Lenny Kravitz
Pop star Lenny Kravitz has been gradually increasing his Hollywood presence over the past 10 years. Turning a string of supporting and cameo roles into a star performance as the legendary reggae singer might be a bit of a risk, but Kravitz has both the vocal chops and the look. If he can nail the performance -- and the brief amount of screen time he gets in "Precious" suggests that it's possible -- this risky casting could prove to be a breakout performance.
Idris Elba
Idris Elba is and always will be "The Wire"'s Stringer Bell. That alone makes it tough to get behind him for a recognizable figure like Marley. I saw him in last year's Tribeca Film Festival selection "Legacy" and, frankly, was unimpressed. But Elba's got some chops. The man can act. He's one of the bigger stretches on this list, but Marley is a challenging role no matter who lands it and, my own opinions on "Legacy" aside, Elba's got talent.
Mekhi Phifer
This is a suggestion from the peanut gallery that is the MTV Newsroom. I'm not really feeling it, but Phifer was solid in "8 Mile." He's one of the main characters on the Tim Roth-starring TV series "Lie To Me," but if a risk is going to be taken as far as casting goes, I'd much rather see someone like Kravitz land the part.
Anthony Mackie
Now here's an interesting possibility. Anthony Mackie turned in a great performance in "The Hurt Locker." Maybe not enough for an Oscar, but the weight of that movie rests largely on his, Jeremy Renner's and Brian Geraghty's shoulders. Mackie's got the acting chops and he's got the look. Even if he can't sing, that's what ADR is for. He'll be getting more and more starring roles as time goes on, make no mistake. Could Marley be one of them?


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