Robert Redford has been talking about making a Jackie Robinson movie for seven years, and according to the Los Angeles Times, it’s finally in motion. Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale) will write and direct, focusing on the special relationship between the Hall of Fame player who broke baseball’s color barrier and Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey, who orchestrated the historic move with both pragmatic and noble intentions. Redford, who hasn’t starred in a film since 2007’s Lions for Lambs, will play Rickey, but no one is yet attached to play Robinson, the dashing and charismatic infielder who stared down vicious bigotry when he joined the Dodgers in 1947. A few years back, there was one logical person to play Robinson: Denzel Washington. In fact, in the mid 1990s, Washington and Spike Lee nearly made a Robinson movie. It wasn’t meant to be.
Washington is too old for the role now – Robinson was 28 years old when he played his first major league game – so who should Redford and Helgeland be scouting? It has to be someone who can capture Robinson’s physicality, cutthroat competitiveness, and innate dignity. My first impulse is Derek Luke, who actually costarred with Redford in Lions for Lambs, but I can also envision The Hurt Locker’s Anthony Mackie wearing Dodgers blue.
Who do you see as the perfect Jackie Robinson?