Hmm. So those rumors you may have heard over the past decade or more about a Bob Marley biopic are starting to prove themselves true. There’s never been a biopic on the singer and, before now, no proposed project has made it past the conception stage.
But when the reggae icon’s widow, Rita Marley, published No Woman No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley in 2004, the idea of a feature film became less ethereal. In fact, producers got downright serious about nailing down something concrete. Apparently, The Weinstein Company has won out as producer/distributor with Rudy Langais as an additional producer. Rita herself will executive produce. Lizzie Borden, perhaps best known for penning 1986’s Working Girls, is handling the script.
Illustrating that she plans to be a very vocal contributor to the project, she’s already cast her vote for the actress she’d like to play her in the biopic: Lauryn Hill. “Lauryn would be ideal (to play me),” said Marley. “She sees my life as her life.” Marley has also stated that she’d like her grandson, Stefan, to play Bob Marley as a teenager.
Langais is a bit cagier, iterating that all casting choices will be made later this year. The film is tentatively slated for a late 2009 release. If things go according to plan, the next two years will be huge for the musician. In addition to this feature, which Langais insists will be an “epic romance,” Martin Scorsese has a proposed Marley documentary in the works that’s set for release on what would’ve been Marley’s 65th birthday, February 6, 2010.
Okay, all this news is fine and dandy, but can we agree that the real drama is gonna come in when they start lockin’ in some of these roles? Lauryn Hill? In a way, I like her as an idea (she’s Marley-obsessed, for one thing, and passion has proven to outweigh actual skill in a film performance or two over the years, so it’s not impossible that she could nail this)—but given her recent elusiveness and oddity, I’d be disinclined to saddle her with an undertaking as heavy as this one. After all, Sony/Columbia’s been futilely attempting to get another album out of her since 2002. Won’t getting two months or more of consistent on-set appearances prove just as difficult for the filmmakers?
Meanwhile, EW.com’s PopWatch Blog writer Gary Susman threw Don Cheadle’s name into the ring for the role of Robert Nesta Marley himself, which seems pretty ridiculous if we’re looking for a visceral similarity, doesn’t it? Cheadle’s probably capable (provided he can do a convincing Jamaican accent which, quite frankly, is not as easy as people seem to think), but he looks nothing at all like Marley and I’ve never seen the Marley swagger in him. We do, however, think Cheadle is a dead-on choice for the upcoming Miles Davis he’s planning to direct (both the looks and the ability are there in spades). And ever since Hotel Rwanda and Talk to Me, dude’s biopic stock has soared.
I guess we won’t count Cheadle out, but there are other brothers out there who’d make better Bobs, right?
One of PopWatch’s commenters offered Gary “Shaza Zulu” Dourdan as a possible option and we agree that he might not be all bad. He looks enough like Marley, but is his acting good enough to carry a film? If Trois is all we can go on, we’re gonna have to say no.
So what say you? Who would you cast for Bob and Rita? What about other key players in the Marley mythology? Weigh in below.