Read our exclusive interview with Chadwick Boseman below.
The Source is the hip-hop bible, let’s start by you telling me who you’re currently listening to and the music that inspired you while filming, I think I might have an idea…
Who were you going to say James Brown? (laughs)
No, but Congratulations on “Get On Up” I can’t wait to see you as James Brown, but I was going to say that you look like a Kendrick Lamar fan, are you?
Yeah, I was definitely was listening to Kendrick, how you know that? (laughs) Nah but I listen to Kendrick and Jay-Electronica, I listen to Drake, always Nas, always and then I like to take it back to artists like Rakim, I listen to everything actually.
Was there any particular artist that inspired or informed your character work on “Draft Day”?
You know I actually listened to a lot of Outcast, a lot of Outcast while filming this movie, because you know my character in the film is country so yeah!
I think you did an amazing job with making the audience care about your character and in you particular storyline it’s all about providing for your new family after your sister passes away, can you talk about that journey?
Well, my sister’s kids are my children now and for me I pulled from some people that I know like Vontae Mack, who might be misunderstood when you first look at them. There are a few cousins of mine who had that physical stature and athletic talent and in one wrong move they ended up being in a different position in life that’s not as rewarding and so I looked at it like, well what if my cousin hadn’t made that decision. Because they definitely were family guys and definitely were intelligent and I’m from the South and was born in the South so they’re definitely country like my character. I just felt like since it’s a movie about family, I went to my family and pulled from that and I wanted him to be grounded in that way.
Talk about the chemistry and what it was like for you as a new budding actor on the rise working with Kevin Costner for the first time?
Well, in the movie our time spent together is mostly over the phone and the film could have been done without him being present for me or me being present for him, but I was adamant about the fact that I didn’t want to do the movie unless I was actually on the phone with him. And so that’s how we shot it. I’m actually talking to him on the phone and he’s actually talking to me. We met beforehand, went out to dinner, read through the scenes, he’s a cool dude. Even on set or driving along in Cleveland he would stop and talk to people and it’s really cool to see somebody as accomplished as he is that hasn’t lost himself. It just shows you that you can be the same way and that it’s all right for you to be like that.
We’ve seen you in a few great films like “42” and you’ve recently shot another film “Get On Up” chronicling the life of James Brown. Can you just speak to the climate of young, successful black actors in Hollywood and what’s it’s like right now for you as an actor?
The fun part is that you get to see other people do similar things at the same time and you can support each other like, I was in Vegas and Michael B. Jordan was there and I’d had a chance to check out one of his latest performances and we were actually texting each other after like, yeah man you did good, hey you still in Vegas? You want to come check out these NCAA games (laughs) or whatever, and it’s just cool to know that it doesn’t have to be a mentality like there’s only room for one person to succeed. And to see David Oyelowo who’s doing “Selma” as Martin Luther King with Ava DuVernay and all those things are just amazing, and it’s amazing that it’s all happening at the same time. And you have Lupita, with her recent Oscar win, I was definitely #TeamLupita I mean “12 Years A Slave” was such a well told and epic story, I mean like to me there’s nothing more tragic or triumphant than the odyssey of slavery. You can compare it to anything. If you even go back to stories about the Greeks and the Romans you know, it’s up there with everything. You watch movies because you want to go into the story and use it in your life and pull from it, and learn from it and the fact that it hadn’t been told this way before, I mean yes we have “Roots” but this was a much more grounded story and reality; this version was about cash crops and sex and it was accurately depicted. Getting back to your question about the climate, a lot of things have opened up in terms or creative and creativity with Hollywood now being liberal enough to show us in different roles that we haven’t been able to play before and it exciting and it should continue.
Your next project, “Get On Up” where you take on the life of James Brown is highly anticipated, talk to us about the casting process and how you got involved or selected for the film? There must have been a lot of competition for the role?
I don’t know anything about the competition to be honest with you. And what I mean by that is in my initial contact with the script and with the producers, I wouldn’t read it. I was like no!
Were you intimidated? Why was your initial reaction no?
Just because it was another real person. And it was such a huge person and such a huge idea that didn’t seem right, like why would you throw a ball down the field when you can run it up the middle, it didn’t make sense to me at first.
So what was it that made you finally grab onto to the project and say yes, I’ll do it?
I had a very candid conversation with the Director Tate Taylor and you know I was able to just try it on for a second, that’s really the best way to say it. I went in and I read for him after some coaxing and they showed me the tape and then I did a test. I wanted to see and they also wanted to see, I think we all wanted to see if it would work because we have different bodies. Jackie Robinson and I are not that different as far as our bodies, but there’s such a difference for James and I as far as body type that I was like, what would that look like on me. I had just done this film, “Draft Day” and I had gained at least 25 pounds so I knew that I would have to lose weight to do it. I wanted to see what those wigs would look like and I wanted to see what the clothes would look like because I knew that was a big part of it and the shoes, all of it, just all of it. I also wanted to see what it would look like to try somewhat a performance and I wanted to know who I would be working with in doing that. Once I met Aakomon A.J. Jones who’s the choreographer and dance coach, it just sort of put me at peace with the fact that I had somebody who could really teach me. Then we had Mick Jagger and the family of James Brown who were in support of it, so why wouldn’t you take that challenge.
That’s an great story! Thank you so much for sitting down with us, we look forward to seeing “Get On Up” and Congratulations on the awesome job you did as Vontae Mack in “Draft Day”!
-Chasity Saunders (@itsmechasity)