'42' Actor Overwhelmed to Play Jackie Robinson
By ROBERT PACE
April 10, 2013
After years of supporting roles in films and minor TV roles, Chadwick Boseman landed his big break in the upcoming 42, in which he portrays late sports icon Jackie Robinson. On the press line at his first premiere for a lead movie role, he revealed how overwhelming the experience has been for him so far.
Boseman has been acting for ten years now, and while he, like many actors, may have been hoping and praying that he would get his big break for a while, sometimes all it takes is a stir of fate to realize a dream.
The 31-year-old actor is not only from Brooklyn, where Jackie Robinson played with the Dodgers before they moved to Los Angeles, but also possesses a convincing resemblance to the player who is worshipped in sports for aiding the dismantling of the color barrier.
"It's a lot," Boseman said at 42's Hollywood premiere of his experience with the film. "...I'm not nervous. It's just exciting. It's over-stimulation...but I'm taking it one thing at a time."
Although Boseman is merely playing the man whose legacy will forever live on in not just sports but American culture as well, he is nearly being treated with the reverence of the man himself.
He's been invited to the White House, dined with legendary former baseball players, and even had the jersey he wore in the film hoisted next to Robinson's authentic No. 42 in the MLB Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He also has spent time with Robinson's widow, Rachel, on a few occasions.
"Every single day, it's something new, in terms of this movie," Boseman said. "Even in the training process and the rehearsal process, I woke up every morning buzzing with energy. It's still like that now. ... It's a great experience all around."
He may be revered similarly to Robinson but his baseball skills were lacking, and in order to successfully pass off as the 1947 Rookie of the Year and 1949 National League MVP, he had to not just look but also play the part.
"I didn't really have [baseball] skills before [the film]," said Boseman, who held a role on Lincoln Heights in its final two seasons. "I mean, I played Little League baseball before, but we trained really hard to make it real for the movie."
The film will be released nearly exactly 66 years after Jackie Robinson played his first game in the major leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers on the fateful day of April 15, 1947. As it has in the past, the MLB will honor Robinson on that day by having all the players wear his No. 42, which is retired in all of baseball.
42 is in theaters this Friday.