'The Help' Director & Brian Grazer Put Soul into James Brown Biopic
by Ben Pearson
October 22, 2012
Musicians are some of the most popular subjects for Hollywood biopics for good reason. Their stories are often about overcoming incredible odds to become hugely successful, and the conflicts that arise when they're on their way to the top (as well as the ones they encounter once they've arrived there) are inherently dramatic. So it makes sense that a biopic of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, has been in development for years, and now Deadline reports The Help helmer Tate Taylor will be the one to direct it for mega-producer Brian Grazer. Plus, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger is on board to produce as well.
Jez and John-Henry Butterworth wrote the script, which follows the young James Brown as he rose out of poverty and avoided a path of violence during his rise to prominence, leading him to become one of the most legendary and influential musicians of all time. Grazer has been trying to get this project off the ground for years (Spike Lee was once set to direct the project but has since moved on), and Brown himself was involved with the project until he passed away in 2006.
Another reason these movies are great for Hollywood bean counters is because they already have a built-in audience of fans and since Brown's family is working with Grazer and Taylor on this one, it should be easy to secure the rights to Brown's music to ensure a fantastic soundtrack. No word yet on casting, but whoever ends up with the lead role has some enormous shoes to fill. Taylor worked with a bunch of A-list talent for his directorial debut in The Help, and since that film was nominated for Best Picture, he should have some big names lining up to be a part of this one too. I'd like to see Chiwetel Ejiofor take this role because he still hasn't become a household name, but I could see someone like Taye Diggs snagging this part because of his previous musical experience. Who do you think should play the Godfather of Soul?