Robert Redford is Branch Rickey, but who should play Jackie Robinson?


Image Credit: Everett Collection

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?

Comments (22 total) Add your comment
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  • Lola

    I’m a huge Anthony Mackie fan but I think that brings up the question of whether you go for someone who is ridiculously talented or someone who looks like Jackie. Hopefully they will find someone who has both qualities. Either way I’m so happy that they’re making a movie about him. Hopefully this will introduce a great American hero to a whole new generation.

  • fancypants

    Mechad Brooks

    • HD

      I typically don’t think of him as much of an actor but this could really be the role to change all of that so yeah! Also is Jennifer Hudson still in talks to play his wife? I remember that after Dreamgirls.

    • katie

      mechad brooks would be excellent!

  • Buffy Freak

    Thank God (or should I say hopefully?) Will Smith is too old.

  • Jenn

    I vote for Anthony Mackie, or maybe an unknown. I’m really having a hard time thinking of many young black male actors in the right age range, which is sad.

    • Les

      It is sad, but I feel it’s more of a reflection on the Hollywood powers-that-be and good ol’ American cultural bias keeping many talented people from even showing up on our radars. Why is Denzel always the default candidate for these iconic Black roles? We be able to list more than a small handful of viable possibilities.

  • Smithie

    How ’bout Chris Brown?

    • Geri LeRoux

      Please don’t pick him

  • Peter

    Anthony Mackie would be great for that role. He’s a very good dramatic actor.

  • Lina

    Donald Glover!

  • skrable

    Isaiah Mustafa. Look at Mustafa, now look at Redford. Now, look at Mustafa again.

    • will

      Freaking hilarious!

  • reel_deal

    Donald Faison

  • MKR

    He’s young at 24, but Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) is a fantastic actor. I could see him in the role.

  • Courtney

    Aldis Hodge

  • Angeleno

    Unfortunately he’s probably a bit too old (39), but that picture of Jackie Robinson above looks exactly like the great Idris Elba (Stringer Bell in The Wire), who would be awesome in this role.

  • ethel

    Brian White would be good. He was a former pro basketball player, is good looking and most of all talented.

  • Al

    Todd Bridges

  • outa the box

    How about Sam Jackson? He’d at least bring some attitude to the role. H wouldn’t take no stick from The Man!

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