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Brian Helgeland Has Found His Jackie Robinson, And It Is...

... Chadwick Boseman!

Beaks here with some very cool news on BNAT eve. According to Variety, Brian Helgeland's 42 now has a Jackie Robinson to possibly go with Harrison Ford's Branch Rickey (that's just a casting rumor at the moment). And rather than go with an established name, Helgeland has elected to cast a journeyman TV actor named Chadwick Boseman.

I love this. It's rare that a major studio takes a gamble on an unkown actor for a film that will, in all likelihood, be a significant awards contender. I know lots of hard-working actors who spend their weeks auditioning, hoping for that big break, but often settling for a day-player role on an episode of CRIMINAL MINDS or NCIS: LOS ANGELES. Boseman must be absolutely elated that he'll be playing perhaps the most important sports icon of the twentieth century potentially opposite one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. I wish this happened more often.

As you probably know, Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's "color barrier" in 1947 when he signed a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Branch Rickey was the Dodgers executive who staked his career and reputation on integrating America's pastime. Honestly, I'm not 100% sold on Ford as Rickey, but Helgeland needs a high-profile actor to get this film before cameras. If Ford gets him there, why not?

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 9, 2011, 6:36 p.m. CST

    by okay here

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 6:39 p.m. CST

    I'm gay and don't follow sports very often, but...

    by Retlaw Kciuq

    Weren't the Dodgers in Brooklyn at the time?

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 6:39 p.m. CST

    Now it's Harrison Ford's turn to say, "YOU'RE THE MAN NOW, DOG!!"

    by zillabeast

    Sweet irony

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 6:42 p.m. CST

    Wait, what team did Jackie sign with in 1947?

    by Reasonaxe

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 6:47 p.m. CST

    what's the score?

    by Nice Marmot


  • Dec. 9, 2011, 7:10 p.m. CST

    so Beaks, you love the casting of a dude nobody ever heard of before-

    by Stifler's Mom

    but you're "not sold" on Harrison Ford.

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 7:32 p.m. CST

    Well I'll be, a negro ball player

    by brobdingnag

    That is great, just great.

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 7:41 p.m. CST

    An unknown does work best for this portrayal

    by Terrence

    I don't want to be thinking, "hey that's *insert handful of black actors here* playing Jackie Robinson!" Jamie Foxx and Big Willie did solid efforts in Ray and Ali, but you knew it was them.

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 7:48 p.m. CST

    Fact Check Your Articles.

    by Brookboy

    As was previously mentioned by someone, the LA Dodgers were not a team a 1947.

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 7:55 p.m. CST

    No Jaden Smith? WTF?!


    Count me out for this then.

  • He played in Brooklyn his whole Major League career.

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 8:07 p.m. CST

    where is the jerry robinson rip thread?

    by john

    harry's dad better be writing a great obit....or there will be hell to pay

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 8:07 p.m. CST

    Um Beaks it was the BROOKLYN Dodgers


    They played in Ebbets field and it was a crime to rip out the heart of soul and brooklyn

  • im a giants fan....and i respect that man saying that...FUCK THE DODGERS

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 8:12 p.m. CST

    This guy has been on a couple of things..

    by GBH

    He was on an episode of Fringe this season, and was on that NBC show Persons Unknown.

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 8:13 p.m. CST

    In Hollywood's Narrative, fanboy mind registers: Lando Robinson

    by seansarto

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 8:18 p.m. CST

    BROOKLYN DODGERS!!!!!! Dumbass

    by BacardiRocky

    Jackie never played for the LA Dodgers.

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 8:44 p.m. CST

    I thought Redford was gonna play Rickey?

    by GQTaste26

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 8:51 p.m. CST

    Let your eyeballs feast upon this!!!

    by LastButNotLeastNinja

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 9:02 p.m. CST

    no DONALD GLOVER? What the hell,-geland?

    by Tigger Tales

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 9:08 p.m. CST

    To make this an AINTITCOOL Suggestion

    by Phategod2

    If this guy can act maybe he can be a front runner to play the Black Panther in a BP movie or a sequel to the Avengers.

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 9:20 p.m. CST

    Baseball, America's Waste Time

    by Marc Cerasini

    Yeah, MONEYBALL was a dud, the baseball stadiums are empty because nobody can afford to buy the tickets to pay these overpriced stickball players, but let's make ANOTHER baseball movie. Go Hollywood....GO FUCK YOURSELF.

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 9:25 p.m. CST

    Dude, tomorrow's already the 10th.

    by Denty420

    Far out.

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 10:06 p.m. CST


    by Jeff

    Good casting. Ever since he co-scripted "L.A. Confidential," I've trusted Helgeland's instincts. This seems like a good one. Because the story of Jackie Robinson could be one of the most dramatic sports films ever made. I read the book "Jackie Robinson: A Biography" a few years ago, and loved it. What a powerful, real life plight Robinson's life was. It's an amazing story, one of the greatest I've ever read. If Helgeland can channel his usual no-holds-barred storyline, I can't freakin' wait to see this. I wish Chadwick Boseman well.

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 10:21 p.m. CST


    by frank

    Just slip the rent under my door.

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 10:36 p.m. CST


    by Denty420

    *fist pump*

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 11:32 p.m. CST

    Boseman was fantastic in Fringe

    by illyGraham

    and I actually watched every episode of Persons Unknown and he was pretty good in that...definitely one of the better performers in that piece of crap show.

  • lie again douche bag.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 2:19 a.m. CST

    Yeah I'm not a fan or anything...

    by gotilk

    more getting into football (American) than anything these days... and not too much really. Just watch the Packers games with passion... But attendance has gone up actually. And the overall trend since 1901 has been a gradual rise, with a few minor ups and downs. Never really understood why, but dems the facts.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 4:33 a.m. CST

    Who the hell is Jackie Robinson?

    by Chariowalda_Barbarossa

    Oh, he's "perhaps THE most important sports icon of the twentieth century"? Never heard of him before. It's weird how Americans always perceive their funny little sports events as the center of the known universe.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 5:39 a.m. CST


    by gotilk

    Center of the known universe? Maybe not. Center of a whole hell of a lot of progress, social and otherwise? Yeah, pretty much. It's not just a story about sports. It's also about a progressive, forward-looking nation taking its first steps toward putting an end to racial inequality and segregation. Something a few other *beloved, favored* nations are to this day struggling with. (that's code for STILL FUCKING RACIST, SYSTEMICALLY) We also don't make a *habit* of killing each other over sports, either. So next time you reach for a footstool to get up on that horse, maybe think it through a little better first so you don't fall face-first into horseshit? You're welcome.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 6:26 a.m. CST

    Brian Cox IS Branch Rickey

    by Jim Halpert

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 6:27 a.m. CST

    Jackie Robinson peed on my rug

    by Denty420

  • Good choice! I was afraid it would be a white guy.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 7:41 a.m. CST


    by Pandas

    Yes it's true that it was a great step towards ending segregation, and I'm sure you guys see it as forward thinking, but remember that most of the rest of us never had that segregation shit in the first place, let alone right up to the 60s

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 7:42 a.m. CST


    by Jim Halpert

    You must not live in Cincinnati, Buffalo, Tampa or Jacksonville.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 9:41 a.m. CST

    So an "American Psycho" remake is in the works?

    by maxjohnson1971

    Only if it stays true to the book should this be done.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 9:54 a.m. CST

    retlaw kciuq

    by riskebiz

    Best chuckle of the morning. Heh heh heh Robinson was BROOKLYN Dodgers.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 10:05 a.m. CST

    a racist, segregated society in the modern era

    by DanielnocharismaCraig

    Are we refering to israel?

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 10:11 a.m. CST


    by Hipshot

    So...where is this mythical nation that doesn't have human tribalism? If it isn't race it's religion, culture, class, language, economics, or something else. Usually some combination. America has had its trials, but despite our troubles we're doing beautifully. I complain about certain things, but it's a loyal opposition: I love my country. I hope the citizens of other countries feel the same pride and honor I feel for mine. Jackie Robinson's story was an important step. I look forward to a dynamite movie about Joe Louis, another man who went beyond sports to become a symbol of unity at a difficult time--the first black man who was cheered for beating the shit out of a white man. He went beyond race to become "an American." wonderful. We have to celebrate our victories as a nation, as well as keep awareness of the distance that remains to be traveled.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 10:15 a.m. CST

    Branch Rickey

    by mullymt

    I wish that Gene Hackman was slightly younger and still making movies. He would be the perfect Branch Rickey.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 10:51 a.m. CST

    1947 LA Dodgers?

    by phifty2

    Beaks hand over your balls now.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 10:53 a.m. CST


    by Napolean Solo

    "the most important sports icon of the twentieth century" ????? WHAT??? Note: Never smoke crack while posting!

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 10:55 a.m. CST


    by phifty2

    Yeah. That's why Citizens Bank Park and my beloved Phillies have sold out nearly every home game for the last four or five seasons.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 11:45 a.m. CST

    This and Red Tails

    by shane peterson

    shows that not every film with a black actor needs to have Denzel or Will or Morgan. Many more talented black folk out there than that. All they need is an opportunity. Fuck how some shit never changes.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 12:02 p.m. CST

    Racism in sports...

    by keyserSOZE

    Maybe other countries didn't have the same kind of segregation, but the world's biggest game still has to have "say no to racism" statements before international matches. No sports in America need to do that. And I say that as someone who absolutely loves football/soccer. But the point is, to suggest other nations are more progressive and forward thinking than the US because there wasn't such prevalent segregation is a little absurd. That said, this has some potential. I share the worry about Ford, honestly. Love the dude, but he hasn't given a good performance in years. For anyone who wants to see a quality version of the Jackie Robinson story, check out Soul of the Game, an old HBO movie starring Blair Underwood as Robinson, Delroy Lindo as Satchel Paige and Mykelti Williamson as Josh Gibson (who many call the best hitter of all time, but who never got to make his mark outside the Negro League). Edward Herrmann was also perfectly cast as Branch Rickey in that movie (in that he's a dead ringer for Rickey).

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 12:13 p.m. CST


    by notcher

    This story feels as timely as "Crash." Should've been made in the 90's when baseball was still popular. Now, I couldn't give a shit.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 2:10 p.m. CST

    I reckon Cowboys and Aliens was the last straw for Ford

    by kwisatzhaderach

    Good on him for taking a serious part again. Now if only somebody would give him material as strong as Witness.

  • I would not say the MOST important, but he is in the top 2 or three, in the US. Ali must be number one. After him comes Jackie, with Ruth and Lombardi up there too.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 2:25 p.m. CST


    by notcher

    I would agree with you except when you say "Important," I immediately drop Babe Ruth from that list, yes he was iconic for eating hot dogs and drinking a lot and hitting homers, but important to anything that's important in the way Ali or Robinson were he was not. In fact, I've never understood the fad over Ruth. Hrm, my opinion, and it's in the minority, so whateva.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 2:27 p.m. CST

    I liked Ford in "Extraordinary Measures."

    by notcher

    Yeah the movie was a sap fest, but I thought it wasn't all THAT bad, and Ford is always great at playing a grumpy old man, one day I see Ford winning an Oscar at 80 for playing Ebenezer Scrooge.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 2:31 p.m. CST

    So I guess I'm behind, what happened to Jack?

    by Mel Gibsteinberg

    I thought Nicholson was locked in to play Rickey?

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 3:01 p.m. CST

    I'm Betting Everything on Sebulba!

    by ImBettingEverythingOnSebulba

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 4:13 p.m. CST

    Jackie Robinson was my dad's hero.

    by DocPazuzu

    He grew up in New York and was a rabid Dodgers fan. Dad can still talk for hours about certain games he's seen and how in awe he was of Robinson both on and off the field. Like all red-blooded Dodgers fans, dad swore off baseball entirely when they moved to L.A. His heart was truly broken. As far as my dad is concerned, the only thing more evil in the history of baseball than the Yankees is Walter O'Malley. Dad has said on more than one occasion that if he had had Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Walter O'Malley in front of him and a gun loaded with only three bullets, he would have used all three on O'Malley.

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 6:05 p.m. CST

    TWO Factual Errors

    by Chris_P_Bacon

    1. As stated a few times already, Jackie Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, not the L.A. Dodgers. 2. Robinson was not the first black man to play major-league baseball:

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 6:07 p.m. CST

    perhaps the most important sports icon of the twentieth century?

    by FloristGump

    Errrr, sorry, live outside the universe that is the USA - who the flippety bugger is Jackie Robinson? (On my planet the most important sportsman of the 20th century was probably Jesse Owens)

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 6:19 p.m. CST

    !(@*#$!@)*#!@#! L.A. Dodgers?? WTF BEAKS?

    by AllPowerfulWizardOfOz

    BROOKLYN DODGERS! Sorry bro that is one huge fail on your part lol

  • Dec. 10, 2011, 8:51 p.m. CST

    Thank god for no Jamie Fox

    by tradeskilz

    That guy is starting to really annoy me. We need more fresh blacktors in Hollywood. But but but Jamie was great in Ray!. NO. He sucked and the movie sucked. Only me who got fed up watching Jamie roll his head around like a retard the whole movie? And he got an Oscar for that shit? Christ...

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 6:35 a.m. CST

    re: most important athlete of 20th century.

    by carey adams

    Hard to choose. Muhammad Ali Jesse Owens Robinson Side note: can't file under most important athletes, but as far as an important event it's hard to forget what Tommie Smith & John Carlos did at the 68' Olympics.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 7:35 a.m. CST


    by BacardiRocky

    Jackie Robinson was the first player to break the color barrier in the "Major Leagues"......

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 10:08 a.m. CST


    by IceTitan

    Well played.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 11:10 a.m. CST

    At last: a black role goes to someone who isn't a Rap star

    by Megaforce

    Why does every black part go a R&B/rap star rather than a talented actor working his way up? Subtle racism in the movie industry? or just lazy casting?

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Who I'd

    by bigdawg

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Who I'd

    by bigdawg

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Who I'd

    by bigdawg

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 5:26 p.m. CST

    It was the BROOKLYN Dodgers ya idjit! Sheesh!

    by mdk

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 9:48 p.m. CST

    Robinson really broke in with the Montreal Royals.

    by BigTuna

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 9:51 p.m. CST

    I'd rather see a Swiss Family Robinson movie instead.

    by XxSoulFlyxX

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 11:18 p.m. CST


    by redcat1

    Correct you are sir.

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 8:16 a.m. CST

    american sports....

    by Li75

    the rest of the world doesnt care, sorry to break it to you.... jordan is only known because of Nike... biggest name in world sport, by far, is david beckham....

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 8:18 a.m. CST

    @ maxcherry

    by Li75

    but USA sports are unimportant to the rest of the world. nobody cares about USA football, basketball or baseball. football (or what you call soccer) is bigger than all your sports combined.

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 9:24 a.m. CST

    had to be an unknown

    by j2talk

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 9:24 a.m. CST

    thank god they didnt look at say... Will Smith

    by j2talk

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 11:31 a.m. CST

    "the most important sports icon of the twentieth century"???

    by quicksilver80

    I know he was important, but come on. Oh and Pele would like to say hi. Wouldn't your own Jim Thorpe be more important?? I guess we need to define "iconic" here.

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Ugh, I need to cut down on the question marks...

    by quicksilver80

  • It was an interesting read, never knew any of that stuff. Who would'a thought Cracked would be a legitmate source of historical information? But I still wanna know....who's gonna play Yogi Berra??? Y'know...the famous "Robinson steals home against Berra" clip we've all seen? Come to think of it, where's the Berra film? Now there's one I'd love to see. "Nobody eats at that resaurant anymore, it's too CROWDED." Man, Yogi rocked...

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 2:03 p.m. CST

    damned if I can login...

    by keyserSOZE

    This is off topic, but virtually everything Cracked does is fact based. They will not accept entries unless the writer can back it up with actual, linked information (I've written 11 articles for them, which is why I know this).

  • Dec. 12, 2011, 7:41 p.m. CST


    by The_All_Dead

    using a no name white actor is no big deal,but since we all know that only four black male actors at a time are allowed in hollywood,going with a no name here is as brave as letting the first black athlete on a sports team....meta

  • Dec. 13, 2011, 12:21 p.m. CST

    keys, I've noticed they're really good about providing links to the history

    by Damned if I can login

    Think I'll mosey on over and check the site. Do you get any compensation other than publication for your contributions?