*The Jackie Robinson biopic “42,” about Major League Baseball’s first African American player, would not be opening in theaters next month if it weren’t for the blessing of his widow.
And she had some concerns.
Rachel Robinson, who owns the rights to her late husband’s story, questioned director Brian Helgeland’s vision of the biopic, which would span just two years of Jackie’s life – the year he broke the color barrier in 1947, and the year preceding it.
“Initially she wanted a greater breadth to the story as far as seeing him after baseball and before baseball,” Helgeland told us during a press conference for the film over the weekend. “You can make movies about both those [time periods] also, but what I said was that the passage of time in a movie is the enemy of the drama of the movie, and I talked to her about focusing on 1946 and 47, which she agreed to.”
Almost 66 years to the day the Brooklyn Dodgers first sent Robinson onto the field and into history books, “42” will slide into theaters on April 12 with Brooklyn-born actor Chadwick Boseman in the lead role.
“Jackie Robinson in the past helped us to expand our boundaries and our realities,” Boseman said. “And I think it’s fitting that this movie exposes what [you haven’t seen]. You haven’t seen it. You haven’t seen this before.”
And what exactly about this story haven’t we seen?
Boseman, seated at the press conference next to Helgeland (who also penned the screenplay), said this film is first and foremost a “love story,” and a depiction of black love that he believes has yet to be explored on the big screen.
“42” also stars Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher, John C. McGinley as Red Barber, T. R. Knight as Harold Parrott, Lucas Black as Pee Wee Reese and Nicole Beharie as Rachel.
Watch the trailer below, featuring Jay-Z’s single with Santogold, “Brooklyn We Go Hard.”