New movie '42' shows baseball's Jackie Robinson as man, not icon

Tue Apr 9, 2013 2:59pm EDT
 
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By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The legend of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke baseball's color barrier more than 60 years ago, gets a human touch in biopic "42," that opens in U.S. movie theaters on Friday.

Chadwick Boseman, who stars as Robinson, said he wanted to remake the iconic image of the Hall of Fame baseball player, who has long been seen as a stoic figure with an unshakable will in the face of racial hatred, into an emotionally complex man who privately raged against racist taunting.

"I was able to explore him as a man and not an idea," Boseman told Reuters. "Some people say he's almost a perfect person, but he's not."

Boseman, 36, a little-known face on Hollywood's big screen, stars opposite Harrison Ford who plays Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers team, who paved the way for Robinson to enter Major League Baseball in 1947.

"42" takes its name from Robinson's number, which Major League Baseball retired from use for all players in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of Robinson becoming the first black player in the league.

"I was just able to sort of put myself in (Robinson's) shoes and breathe his life in any situation and try to search for those dark moments and the type of person he was, based upon what he said and what other people said," Boseman said.

The actor, who has appeared on TV series such as "Fringe" and "Justified," said he sought insight into Robinson's personality and emotions at that time from his wife, Rachel Robinson, with whom he met several times to prepare for the role.

"I could tell from how strong their relationship was. The best way to say it is you're seeing a piece of the puzzle," Boseman said. "They're a complete puzzle together. I could see the edges of who he is from who she is."   Continued...

 
A scene from the film "42". REUTERS/Warner Bros. Pictures