After an extensive search, Paramount Pictures and Tuff Gong have reportedly selected British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir to play Bob Marley in an upcoming biopic.
Sources told Deadline that Ben-Adir came out on top, among dozens of actors vying for the coveted role that will finally bring the Reggae icon’s life and career to the big screen.
Ben-Adir, age 35, was born in Gospel Oak, London, to a black Trinidadian mother and white British father.
He has previously played Malcolm X in Amazon Studios’ One Night in Miami and President Barack Obama on Showtime’s The Comey Rule. From 2017 to 2019, he appeared in series four and five of the BBC One television series Peaky Blinders.
The yet-to-be-named Paramount film will be directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, whose biographical drama King Richard has been hailed as a critical and commercial success. Released last November, King Richard is based on the inspirational true story of Richard Williams, and surrounds the early life of his daughters, future tennis superstars Venus and Serena. The film, which earned six Oscar nods, has been called “one of the best films of the year,” and Green’s treatment of Reggae royalty is expected to be just as compelling.
SCREENWRITER FOR MARLEY
Specific details about the movie’s plot, have not yet been officially disclosed, but Green is already certain of how he’ll translate Marley’s brief but prolific years to the big screen.
“Our film starts in ’76 and really it’s about the making of Exodus,” Green told Collider’s Steven Weintraub in an interview late last year, referring to the ninth studio album by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Featuring gems like Jammin, War, and Waiting In Vain, Marley’s seminal album not only made him a megastar in the UK but coincided with his exile there, after an assassination attempt in Jamaica. Recorded in London, Exodus was released in June 1977, when Marley was 32 years old.
This pre-cancer, political portion of the Gong’s career would indeed be the perfect window into his life, at the crossroads where his ghetto-based credo reached a global crescendo. Though Marley’s life’s work transcended musical talent, his biopic would, of course, be incomplete without referencing his iconic catalog.
When asked if he had the music rights for the biopic, Green said that “we do have rights to the music, some music, for sure. And some good music.”
Bob Marley died in 1981 of cancer at the age of 36.