Anyone who still thinks jocks and artists don’t mix has yet to be acquainted with Mr. Chadwick Boseman. After playing Jackie Robinson in 2013’s 42 and a fictional football star in this year’s Draft Day, the young actor seems poised to nail the role of James Brown in Get on Up, the forthcoming biopic that counts Mick Jagger as a producer.
The new trailer for Get on Up, directed by The Help‘s Tate Taylor, is a major tease. It’s got Brown falling in love with music as a kid, punching a guy out in prison, and pioneering all those Soul Train–worthy moves/hairdos/getups. Get on Up looks like it won’t be a straight-up feel-good musical, though, even if Craig Robinson of The Office and Pineapple Express is set to show up.
The film will detail Brown visiting Vietnam, living and touring through the thick of the civil rights movement, and dealing with clueless reporters trying to grasp esoteric concepts like “the groove” and “the funk.” Oh, and he accidentally blasts a shotgun indoors. (Speaking of hijinx, that chase scene with the cops totally happened, and was detailed in national newspapers in 1988. ‘They shot out his tires in South Carolina. He was running on two steel rims on the front. He drove about six miles like that.”)
Visiting the Today show this past week, Jagger explained what a seminal influence Brown was on the Rolling Stones. “It wasn’t an influence like, ‘Oh, I’m going to cop his move or I’m going to cop his songwriting,'” Jagger said. “The main thing I copped from him, which I think is a good thing to learn for any performer, is the way he interacted with the audience. The way he charmed them. The way he told them what to do. The way he gave them his emotions. The way he expected them to give back.” Producing alongside Jagger is Oscar-winning industry veteran Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, 24), who’s been trying to get a Brown biopic going since the 1990s. Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Dan Aykroyd, and Philadelphia singer Jill Scott will appear in costarring roles.
Back in February, Rolling Stone visited the Get on Up set and heard Jagger’s praises for Chadwick Boseman. “It’s a really hard role to do,” Jagger said. “It would’ve been safer to take someone from Broadway who had a lot of dancing and singing background. Chad would be the first to tell you, he wasn’t a dancer. But after he’d worked for six weeks on it, he immeasurably had become the character.” Boseman and Brown were actually both born in South Carolina, about 100 miles (and 49 years) apart. Tate Taylor, a Mississippi native, was thrilled with this connection. “[Boseman’s] protective of the men of the South, and said, ‘We cannot mess this up! I don’t know if I can do it right!'” Taylor told Rolling Stone. “And I was like, ‘I’m with you! Just come on!’ And he came in and killed it.”
It looks like Jagger, Taylor, Grazer and company hit the bullseye with the Get on Up soundtrack, too. The 20-song collection, due for a July 29 release, features live and studio cuts including “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, Pt. 1,” “Super Bad,” “Please Please Please,” “The Payback Pt. 1,” and, of course, the 1970 classic from which the film gets its title, “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine.” Get on Up hits theaters August 1.