James Brown, widely known as the “Godfather of Soul,” has been the subject of an upcoming biopic since the late ‘90s and it appears a cast for the film will be forming in the near future. Hollywood producer Brian Grazer already selected director Tate Taylor last fall, and is moving forward with casting the flick with the assistance of another music legend.
Rolling Stone interviewed Grazer about the forthcoming film, the challenges he’s faced in it development and how Brown’s talent shaped his vision for the film. After investing $2 million of his own money into the project, Brown’s death in 2008 nearly derailed it altogether.
“I had the rights for a very long time, from about 12 years ago,” said Grazer. “And when James Brown died, the rights became more complicated, and I lost them. I had already developed a great script by the Butterworths, but it all came unglued.”
Although Grazer certainly respected the influence and musical significance of Brown, the singer’s life was certainly troubled and especially so in his later years. Grazer encountered some difficulty in convincing Brown to get on board, but said he met with him frequently in order to gain approval. “He recognized he had hard times,” explained Grazer. “But I think he wanted someone who recognized and celebrated his accomplishments.”
The Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger is a known fan of Brown, and joined Grazer as a co-producer. Grazer mentioned that the singer has “strong opinions” but it looks to be a solid partnership. No lead actors have been suggested but it would be intriguing to see how Taylor, who made a splash directing The Help, will visually portray the highs and lows of the legendary and influential funk singer.