EUR associate Marie More of “The Film Strip” column asked Scott to retrace those steps that led to her impassioned role.
“I heard through the grapevine there was going to be a movie about James Brown, so I called around and got the script,” she recalled. “He’s an icon and I wanted to be a part of anything that has to do with such a legendary man, such an incredible musician. Just about every role was taken but I auditioned for basically what was left and would’ve been happy for anything.”
The audition process took place in the middle of the “Baggage Claim” junket, and Scott said she was exhausted.
“But I guess the audition went well because they incorporated DeeDee Brown into the story, and she wasn’t in the original script.”
That vote of confidence did not leave Scott resting on her laurels. Scott went all out to capture the essence of the woman she would be portraying.
“I spoke to Brown’s family members and her grandson was working onset. He brought in a lot of pictures of his grandmother.
“We talked about her extensively. DeeDee was by no means a victim and she loved the man. She loved the man hard and sincerely. She was completely engulfed in his brilliance, his affection, his glow, and it’s easy to do. Chad Boseman embodied James Brown so well that I really didn’t have a choice but to fall in love with James too.”
“Get On Up” left an indelible mark on consummate performer Jill Scott. She learned a lot about the man, James Brown, and was very impressed.
“James Brown was fighting on so many levels,” she explained. “He was fighting for himself. He was fighting in a business that says you have to be a certain kind of way, and you have to do certain kinds of things in order to make it, or to sell records. He just kept defying [the odds] and showing them all otherwise. He believed in himself, although he suffered through a lot. So you really get an opportunity to see where his views on women, his views on life, where they all come from. It’s easy to sit back and judge when you don’t know and haven’t walked in his shoes. I learned a lot about what love is based on playing DeeDee Brown.
“What I also really love about James,” Scott continued, “is that he consistently, especially in the early and middle parts of his life, kept finding the light in the dark. That says a lot for who he is and what he’s really all about. We see people’s arrival at a certain stage in their lives and assume that all is good and everything was meant to be. But it took a lot of effort and work for him. He put a lot of heart and gut into what he wanted to do, and he took lumps for it.”
Like a rolling stone, Scott gathers no moss. She is currently working on new music and starring in the Lifetime movie, “With this Ring.”
Watch this scene between Jill Scott (DeeDee Brown) and Chadwick Boseman (James Brown):
Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]