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‘Crazy’ Pressure Of Bringing Bob Marley To Big Screen

"The Jamaican people are hard -- they are like, 'Don't mess with Bob!' -- but luckily they gave us the seal of approval."


Jamaican musician Ziggy Marley arrives for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

 

 

When you’re making a film about someone as universally loved as Bob Marley, the weight of responsibility hangs heavy.

With “Bob Marley: One Love” hitting cinemas around the world next week, director Reinaldo Marcus Green admitted he hesitated about taking on the biopic of the reggae legend — a project that has previously defeated both Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone.

“The responsiblity was so large that I thought it was crazy to do this,” said Green, whose previous film was “King Richard”, starring Will Smith as the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

“But we had our world premier in Jamaica and that was a huge sigh of relief,” he told AFP.

 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 06: Reinaldo Marcus Green attends the Los Angeles Premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at Regency Village Theatre on February 06, 2024, in Los Angeles, California. Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures/AFP (Photo by Phillip Faraone / Getty Images via AFP)

 

“The Jamaican people are hard — they are like, ‘Don’t mess with Bob!’ — but luckily they gave us the seal of approval.”

The film focuses on a particularly rich creative period between 1976 and 1978 when Marley released the album “Exodus” that made him a global star, but also suffered an attempted assassination and discovered the cancer that would soon after claim his life at just 36.

It was co-produced by his widow Rita Marley and their children Ziggy and Cedella — as well as a certain Brad Pitt.

 

British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir (L) and Jamaican musician Ziggy Marley arrive for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

It was Ziggy who approved British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir to play his father.

Ben-Adir has already played two other towering historical figures: Malcolm X (in “One Night in Miami”) and Barack Obama (“The Comey Rule”).

But this has been another level for the 37-year-old actor, with his face on billboards all over the planet.

“It’s not my face I see on those posters. It’s the good will and the love that Bob has around the world,” he told AFP. “Bob has this power.”

 

British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir arrives for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

Ben-Adir learned to sing for the role and his voice is mixed with recordings of Marley through the film.

The challenge was keeping up the intensity: “You never see Bob doing half-energy, it’s always full,” he said.

 

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 08: (L-R) Shacia Marley and Lailah Marley attend a Miami Screening of “Bob Marley: One Love” at Regal South Beach on February 08, 2024, in Miami Beach, Florida. Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures/AFP (Photo by Jason Koerner / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

 

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 08: (L-R) Vick Hope, Aston Barrett Jr and Kingsley Ben-Adir attend a Miami Screening of “Bob Marley: One Love” at Regal South Beach on February 08, 2024, in Miami Beach, Florida. Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures/AFP (Photo by Jason Koerner / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

 

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 08: Gloria Estefan and Emilio Estefan attend a Miami Screening of “Bob Marley: One Love” at Regal South Beach on February 08, 2024, in Miami Beach, Florida. Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures/AFP (Photo by Jason Koerner / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

 

– ‘Wasn’t perfect’ –
The film takes pains to show all sides of Marley, who had a reputation among friends and family for being tough (they nicknamed him “The General”), competitive and “inhumanly determined”, but also sweetly innocent like a little boy, Ben-Adir said.

“Everyone has an idea of Bob as a nice happy guy, but no — he wasn’t perfect,” he added. “But his mission was perfect, and his music… there’s nothing like it.”

The family has not shied away from showing difficult moments, including a bruising argument in which Rita reminds Marley of how much she has done to build his career.

 

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 08: (L-R) Shacia Marley and Lailah Marley attend a Miami Screening of “Bob Marley: One Love” at Regal South Beach on February 08, 2024, in Miami Beach, Florida. Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures/AFP (Photo by Jason Koerner / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

Jamaican-US singer Shaggy arrives for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

“That scene took a lot of private work with the family,” Ben-Adir said. “I have so much respect for them for their bravery to share that.”

Green said it was crucial to show how Rita introduced Marley to his Rastafarian religion, and guided his career and music.

 

Jamaican musician Ziggy Marley (C), his wife Orly Marley (R) and family arrive for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 06: (L-R) Zuri Marley and Ziggy Marley attend the Los Angeles Premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at Regency Village Theatre on February 06, 2024, in Los Angeles, California. Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures/AFP (Photo by Phillip Faraone / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 06: Rocky Dawuni attends the Los Angeles Premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at Regency Village Theatre on February 06, 2024, in Los Angeles, California. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures/AFP (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

 

“Rita gave him a sense of purpose. He was from Trenchtown — easy to fall victim to the streets,” the director said.

“Through music and Rastafarianism he was able to gift us his music, and Rita is responsible for that introduction to that deep faith.”

 

 

British actor Damson Idris arrives for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

US singer-songwriter Omarion arrives for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

Canadian television host Lilly Singh arrives for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

US singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder arrives for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

US singer andacrtress Kelly Rowland arrives for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

 

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 08: Chris Gayle attends a Miami Screening of “Bob Marley: One Love” at Regal South Beach on February 08, 2024, in Miami Beach, Florida. Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures/AFP (Photo by Jason Koerner / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 08: (L-R) Spragga Benz, Kiki Barth and Rohan Marley attend a Miami Screening of “Bob Marley: One Love” at Regal South Beach on February 08, 2024, in Miami Beach, Florida. Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures/AFP (Photo by Jason Koerner / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

British actor and musician Sam Palladio arrives for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

Australian singer-songwriter and actress Kylie Minogue arrives for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

US actress Talani Rabb (C) and husband US rapper and actor RZA arrive for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

Jamaican actor Quan-Dajai Henriques arrives for the premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 6, 2024. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 06: (L-R) Cassius Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood attend the Los Angeles Premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at Regency Village Theatre on February 06, 2024, in Los Angeles, California. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures/AFP (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 06: Rocky Dawuni attends the Los Angeles Premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at Regency Village Theatre on February 06, 2024, in Los Angeles, California. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures/AFP (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)