Photo Courtesy of nypost.com
“Get On Up,” the new musical movie biopic of James Brown, is out in theaters today. Chadwick Boseman portrays the singing and dancing icon, managed to not just imitate Brown, but become him. “It is not a replication. It is not an impression,” says Dan Aykroyd, who plays Brown’s manager and agent Ben Bart and appeared with Brown in “The Blues Brothers” movies. “I did not have to squint sitting across from Chad to imagine that I was talking to the man I used to know,” he told USA Today. “Get On Up” director, Tate Taylor, has similar sentiments, “It makes me think of De Niro in ‘Raging Bull’.” If Boseman keeps this up, he might just land himself an Academy Award next February.
He would deserve it, too, after two long months of rehearsing five to eight hours a day with choreographer Aakomon Jones. Rolling Stones singer and “Get On Up” producer Mick Jagger elaborated, ”He didn’t come from Broadway. He was never in a rock band. He was never a hip-hop artist. He had to learn how to be James Brown, one of our great onstage dancers.” And learn he did. As selections for the film were made, Jagger and Boseman would listen to various versions of classics of Brown’s together. On Jagger’s tutelage, Boseman says, “Mick also was teaching about exchange with the audience and directing the band — all of the things James Brown is doing in a performance.”
Boseman didn’t come to “Get On Up” as readily as you would think. Having played legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson in “42” last year made him apprehensive about doing another biopic so soon. “I wasn’t looking to do it again for another 15, 20 years,” he say, adding to the fact that he had no training in musical theater performance. Nonetheless, he took the project on and pulled off the Godfather of Soul beautifully, albeit with plenty of hard work. The Olympia concert shot took 15 hours. “We had over a thousand extras. One huge stage, the biggest band, all the dancers,” Boseman says. How many of Brown’s famous splits did Boseman do in that 15 hour stretch? More than 90. “We had groupies after the concert.”
For James Brown aficionados, check out FDRMX’s article on never-before-seen videos of icons like James Brown, Aretha Franklin, The Grateful Dead, and Bob Dylan. “Get On Up” captures the essence of James Brown himself; see it in theaters today.