Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

On Set With The Godfather Of Soul

b2.jpg
b3.jpg
b4.jpg
b1.jpg

ShortList's Sam Rowe shuffles on to the dancefloor of forthcoming James Brown biopic Get On Up

“WAAAAAAAAOH! I feel good… !” The inimitable screech of James Brown fills the air, for what must be the 50th time today. Here, deep inside a studio in drizzly Jackson, Mississippi, the Godfather Of Soul is being resurrected. Not literally – that’d be awful – but for Get On Up, a biopic of his extraordinary life by Tate Taylor, the director of Oscar-winning drama The Help.

The film covers all aspects of the soul legend’s life, from impoverished beginnings to his release from prison for assault and weapons charges in 1991 – but unlike most film biographies, Get On Up will be entirely non-linear.

“James Brown had a crazy life, so the editing and the way you tell the story has to be that way, too,” says Taylor. “We go from 1988 to 1933, then back to 1968 in 10 minutes.”

Back on set, and true to form for someone portraying ‘The Hardest Working Man In Showbusiness’, leading man Chadwick Boseman is doing his utmost to emulate James Brown’s industrious reputation – sweat pouring from beneath his foot-high ‘pompadour’ wig as he jerks his limbs through another dance. Not that he’s complaining. In fact, Boseman’s gone full Daniel Day-Lewis, refusing to drop character or Brown’s signature voice at any point throughout the 15-hour day – cast and crew even address him as “Mr Brown”.

“I have a short amount of time to do this,” the 32-year-old actor tells ShortList. “James Brown was singing and dancing as himself for his entire life. I don’t wanna do an imitation of him, it has to be an interpretation. So I can’t afford to come out of that practice.”

The likeness to Brown’s moves is staggering, but little wonder, given that Boseman endured a gruelling three-month bootcamp before shooting started.

“It was intense,” admits the film’s choreographer, Aakomon Jones. “Chadwick’s lost weight – we’ve had to up his diet because he’s burning calories so fast.”

“I think [the dancing] is one of the most intimidating things about the role,” confirms Boseman. “James Brown is one of the best dancers in the history of the world. Ultimately that’s one of the main things people will judge you on – can you get the footwork down?”

Dance lessons aside, playing a musical legend does have perks. Boseman adds, “We’ve had to get up and perform. So I’ve sung in some places in Jackson. It helps because you’re taking it beyond just work.” Gruelling 15-hour film shoots followed by James Brown karaoke? With a work rate like that, you’ll end up with a reputation...

Get On Up is at cinemas nationwide from 26 September

Related

hendrix.jpg

Jimi Hendrix Biopic Trailer Lands

kingtuts2.jpg

Coolest Music Venues in the UK

rem2.jpg

When Artists Hate Their Own Songs

max3.jpg

Mad Max: Fury Road Trailer Thunders In

jake2.jpg

Creepy Nightcrawler Trailer Lands

inter1.jpg

New Trailer For Interstellar Lands

Comments

More

Gary Barlow has revealed he'll be in the next Star Wars movie

Take that, Vader! Or something

by Gary Ogden
27 Mar 2017

GI Joe is getting another reboot, but this time it's 'millennial'

Hasbro isn't saying what that means, but we're assuming the Joes will be drinking lattes while refusing to save for a house

by Tom Mendelsohn
24 Mar 2017

The new film from the guy behind 'In Bruges' looks brilliant

Even the trailer's hilarious

by Gary Ogden
24 Mar 2017

Han Solo's real name isn't actually Han Solo, Disney reveal

Disney's president stuns the fandom with the news that everyone's favourite smuggler might not quite be who he says he is

by Tom Mendelsohn
24 Mar 2017

Cinema hands out sick bags to people watching new cannibal horror film

It's got an 88% Rotten Tomatoes rating, too

by Matt Tate
23 Mar 2017

Ryan Gosling has finally revealed why he was laughing at the Oscars

He had the best reaction of the night

by Gary Ogden
23 Mar 2017

Watch the first five minutes of Ghost In The Shell now

Looks pretty decent tbf

by Gary Ogden
22 Mar 2017

You can now search for movies on Sky Q by yelling at your remote

"Luke, I'm your mum!"

by Gary Ogden
22 Mar 2017

Ridley Scott wants to make another four movies after 'Alien: Covenant'

We could be staring down the barrel of ten Alien movies

by Tom Mendelsohn
21 Mar 2017

'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' ditched a much more hopeful ending

What could have been for Jyn and Cassian

by Matt Tate
21 Mar 2017