Who has the game and the grit to play Jackie Robinson?


Image Credit: AP Images

Think Will Smith as Muhammad Ali. Think Denzel Washington as Malcolm X. That’s the burden (and the opportunity) that will be placed on the shoulders of the actor who eventually takes the field as Jackie Robinson. Legendary Pictures and former Disney exec Dick Cook announced today that they’ve made a deal with the Robinson estate and are finally positioned to bring the story of modern baseball’s first African-American player to the screen after years of attempted projects from Spike Lee, Ken Burns, and Robert Redford, who is not involved with this most recent incarnation.

Brian Helgeland is writing and directing, but who has the physicality, the intensity, and the innate dignity to play Robinson — who was 28 years old when he finally played his first major league game? In April, we nominated Derek Luke (Lions for Lambs) and Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker), and readers offered some other interesting possibilities. Mehcad Brooks (True Blood) has the athletic prowess that purists would expect, and Rob Brown (The Express) already knows what’s it like to play a sports legend, Heisman winner Ernie Davis. Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights) might be a little young at 24, but his Vince Howard character had a burning desire for greatness that Robinson personified; another FNL alum, Aldis Hodge (Leverage) can definitely channel Robinson’s fierceness.

Robinson’s life has been the subject of a few movies, mostly on TV. Andre Braugher played the proud young superstar in 1990’s The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson, but that TV movie focused on his pre-baseball days in the military. In the 1950 feature, The Jackie Robinson Story, the Hall of Famer played himself — who else could possible have done it in 1950 Hollywood?! Like the baseball legend himself, who was handpicked not only for his abilities on the diamond but also the maturity and discipline required to be a social trailblazer, the actor who plays Robinson in Helgeland’s film takes on a huge responsibility. Who would you draft for the role of a lifetime?

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

Comments (58 total) Add your comment
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  • william

    Mekhi Phifer he already played gale sayers in the Brian’s Song remake.

    • Sina

      He has gotten wayyyyyyyyyyyy too fat. Have you seen him lately? He’s actually aging.

  • Stanley

    Why would they have a male play a female role? Jackie…?

    • anonymous


    • Tina

      Stanley, you should Google “Jackie Robinson”!

  • Sina

    I’m with Anthony Mackie because he has been good in evert role he has played. No to Mehcad Brooks. Jackie Robinson was a good looking man, Mehcad is ugly. All he has is abs.

    • Monica

      I agree about Anthony Mackie – he definitely has the intensity and the experience.

    • Vince from NYC

      He’s the first guy that popped into my head.. He’s an awesome actor and resembles Robinson..

    • lefty

      I’m for Mackie, too…but let’s slow your roll saying Mehcad isn’t attractive. I’d give my first 3-borns to have one child with him.

      • Sina

        Then you must want some ugly kids.

  • Rob Grizzly

    Who is a good question. Its hard when new, young African American stars aren’t getting established in Hollywood.

  • George

    I think Chiwetel Ejiofor or David Oyelowo could be excellent choices.

    • the_girl

      They both strike me as too old. I am definitely on board with the idea of Aldis Hodge.

  • Andy Baker

    Marlon Wayans

    • Nathan

      God no.

  • vin

    I think the guy who played seaweedi nthe hairspray movie would be a good fit.

    • Penny

      He’s too small but he would be excellent!

  • harry

    Idris Elba!!!

    • Elizabeth

      that was who I was thinking.

  • sheg79

    Lucas short. he was the best thing about the losers. might be a little shorter than people like but, if the can make hobbits small, why not him tall?

    • PlayOn

      Columbus Short. He was good in Cadilliac records but he’s way to short

  • Mandy P.

    Michael B. Jordan has been great on FNL and Parenthood. I’d love for him to become a bigger star, he’s a really good actor. My vote is for him!

  • Gabe

    Laz Alonzo from Breakout Kings…

    • rjh90

      I was thinking Laz Alonzo as well but I think he is latin. Let’s get a full fledged brother in there.

  • Lauren

    Michael B. Jordan has been great on Parenthood. And I could definitely stare at him on a big screen for a few hours.

  • db

    Photo looks a bit like Jamie Foxx, but he might be a bit old to play now.

    • wg

      That’s immediately who I thought of with that photo.

  • Lina

    J. August Richards!

    • Jane

      Love him!

  • rey

    blair underwood played jackie robinson in a hbo movie. the movie focused more on branch rickey’s choice on who he will sign to the dodgers, babe ruthiam josh gibson (drug addict), 76 year old pitching ace satchel paige, or the clean cut, married jackie robinson?

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