EXCLUSIVE: Following a global search that took almost a year, Paramount Pictures looks to have found the person to play Bob Marley in its biopic about the reggae legend. Sources tell Deadline that Kingsley Ben-Adir, who starred as Malcolm X in One Night in Miami, has been tapped to play the Jamaican icon, with King Richard helmer Reinaldo Marcus Green directing.
Ziggy Marley, Rita Marley and Cedella Marley will also produce on behalf of Tuff Gong. Robert Teitel will also produce. Script is by Zach Baylin, Frank E. Flowers and Terence Winter.
Bob Marley died of cancer in 1981 at age 36, but in that short lifetime he changed the landscape of music, introducing generations to reggae with such songs as “Get Up, Stand Up,” “One Love,” “No Woman, No Cry,” “Could You Be Loved,” “Buffalo Soldier,” “Jammin’” and “Redemption Song.”
Like Ray Charles, Elton John, Freddy Mercury and the many other iconic musicians who have been portrayed on screen, the Bob Marley role was one of the more coveted parts in Hollywood during the past year. Sources say Paramount execs and Green saw endless tests and met with dozens of actors vying for the role, but in recent weeks Ben-Adir began putting himself in pole position before ultimately winning the role.
Ben-Adir’s star has been on the rise since his breakout role in Netflix’s The OA, but recent performances playing iconic figures have brought more acclaim. While it was brief, his portrayal as President Barack Obama on Showtime’s The Comey Rule brought instant praise, and his spot-on performance as Malcolm X in the Regina King-helmed One Night in Miami had him in the award-season conversation last year.
He recently joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as he is set to play the villain in Marvel’s Secret Invasion, starring Samuel L. Jackson.
He is repped by CAA, Range Media Partners and B-Side Management.
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