'42' Star Chadwick Boseman: Jackie Robinson's Widow 'Overjoyed' By Biopic
The actor tells THR that Rachel Robinson’s stamp of approval felt like a “great, great compliment.”
Should audiences question the accuracy or portrayal of Jackie Robinson in Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros.’ 42, look no further than a ringing endorsement from the iconic baseball player’s widow, Rachel Robinson.
“She said she’s completely satisfied with it,” the film’s star, Chadwick Boseman, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “She was overjoyed because she said it helped her to remember some of the difficult times and celebrate getting through it, but it also helped her to cherish the joyful moments during that struggle.”
Rachel, 90, was the belle of the ball at the Hollywood premiere of 42, held at Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theatre on April 9. With her family by her side, Rachel mixed and mingled with Boseman, the film’s writer-director Brian Helgeland, star Harrison Ford and sports greats including Bill Cowher, Ken Griffey Jr. and former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley. Rachel even stayed well into the late-night afterparty, which saw the parking lot behind Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre transformed into Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field for the occasion (complete with hot dogs, Cracker Jack and pizza).
Says Boseman: “[The fact] that she could enjoy [watching] something that was so hard for them -- that’s a great, great compliment.” (Rachel was played by Nicole Beharie in the film.)
According to Helgeland, Rachel found particular joy in watching the romantic scenes between Boseman and Beharie. “The first time she saw it … she was just going on about the romance in it,” says Helgeland of the film’s New York screening. “She was saying how much she loved the intimacy between them in the film. And the more she talked about it, the more I realized it was almost a chance for her to see her husband one more time and kind of spend two hours with him. So, if that’s all we pulled off, that’s all we needed to pull off.”
The film, co-starring Ford as Branch Rickey, the Dodgers GM who signed Jackie to the team in 1947, recounts Jackie’s journey from playing in the Negro leagues to ultimately breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball and winning the inaugural Rookie of the Year honor.
42 opens nationwide April 12.
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@THR.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci