Brooklyn-born Howard grad Chadwick Boseman is a star in the making. The actor best known for his role as Nathaniel “Nate” Ray on the ABC Family Show “Lincoln Heights” has just moved past the rest of the newly minted crop of Black actors with his starring role as Jackie Robinson in “42.” He’s already getting raves for his work co-starring with Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey and Nicole Behairie as Rachel Robinson. Boseman talked to the Tom Joyner Morning Show about the pressure of playing an American icon.
SKIP CHEATHAM: I can’t wait to see the new Jackie Robinson movie “42.” We’ve got the star of the movie with us today. Chadwick Boseman, what’s going on?
CHADWICK BOSEMAN: How are you doing?
Skip: Oh, I can’t complain at all. I just can’t wait for your movie, man.
Chadwick: Yeah, it’s been an exciting time, man.
LONI LOVE: Man, you forgot, because, see, he’s a male, you forgot to say the sexy Chadwick. Okay? Because, yeah, yeah, I feel you. I’ve been watching your IMDB, baby. I know what you’re going through.
Chadwick: (Laughs) All right now.
LONI LOVE: Now get ready, after “42” comes out on April 12, you won’t be able to go to the grocery store.
Chadwick: It’s already getting a little crazy.
Loni: What’s happening, tell me…
Chadwick: I just got to wear a hoodie right now. (Laughs) If you want to know why I’m pulling out the hood now…
Skip: 80 degress, he’s got a hoodie on. So first of all was it – when you talk about the figure of Jackie Robinson, what he means, not just in sports, not just in Black history but in American history, how he changed everything, was it a daunting task for you to take on that role?
Chadwick: Yeah, I mean it’s incredible responsibility. At first you celebrate it, obviously. But then you start thinking about what everybody is going to have something to say about it. When someone hears about you doing it, they talk to you like, ooh, that’s heavy. You don’t necessarily know what they mean by that because everybody has their own interpretation of this hero. So I realize that everyone had their own stake in him, I realize that kids would get to know him – they will watch this movie and get to know him based on my performance. So that pressure is there but I think the greatest pressure is from the family. Not to say that they did anything to scare me but Rachel Robinson definitely challenged me in terms of playing the role but I didn’t want to let them down.
Skip: So Jackie Robinson’s widow – she give you some pressure?
Chadwick: Oh, absolutely.
Loni: Was she on the set?
Chadwick: She came to the set, yes. She didn’t come every day. She visited. She consulted even when the script was being written. When I met her, I met her down at their offices of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, on Varick Street. (Editor’s Note: In NYC) You feel like you’re about to meet the Queen. She’s regal. And so the first thing she said to me was if we had made this movie when I wanted to make this movie, Sidney Poitier would have played your role.
Loni: Oh, wow.
Skip: No pressure.
Chadwick: OK, then Denzel was supposed to play it. And now we ended up with you.
Chadwick: So who are you? So that’s just the beginning of the conversation.
Loni: Did she see the finished product of the movie? What did she say afterwards?
Chadwick: I wasn’t with her when she saw the finished product the first time. I saw the movie last week at the White House. But in both cases, told me she was completely satisfied, hugged me, was overjoyed, she told us we did a great job. She said basically that not only did it help her remember the difficult part of that time, it helped her remember the joy of that time. It was the most fulfilling part of this project to see her satisfied with it.
Skip: That’s great. I can’t wait. April 12, the movie opens, “42.”
I also hear you’ve got “The Kill Hole” the story of a man who’s forced to face his violent past. That’s going to be released via DVD and iTunes on April 9th. Congratulations on everything.
Chadwick: Thank you.