Tate Taylor talks about Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in ‘Get On Up’

08.01.14 3 years ago

Today, August 1st, director Tate Taylor's newest movie, “Get on Up,” opens nationwide.  A biopic starring Chadwick Boseman as James Brown, the movie is debuting nearly three years to the day after Taylor's previous directorial effort, “The Help,” which opened on August 10, 2011.

While the films are not the same by any stretch, there are undoubtedly similarities between the two – both take place the South, both take place during our recent history, and both feature Viola Davis & Octavia Spencer.  The elements worked well for Taylor last time out, earning positive reviews and garnering several awards and nominations including an Academy Award for Spencer.

The new movie is already receiving positive reviews for Boseman's performance.  Taylor, sitting down with HitFix recently for an interview, said that he knew on the first day that Boseman's work would be something special.

“We, as a producing team, to aide Chad, we kind of stacked the schedule where we would slowly work into it, which put a strain on our filming process,” Taylor began.  Continuing, he explained how once they saw the performance they readjusted, “After that first day we said, 'He can do it, let's arrange our schedule how we need.'”

In light of Boseman's performance, and because it is how Taylor works in general, the script for the film was tweaked throughout production.  Taylor said that he rewrites scenes every night.  In fact, the last scene in the movie, which we will not give away here as Taylor was careful not to get into specifics, wasn't going to be there until the director saw what he was getting from Boseman and Nelsan Ellis (who plays Brown's longtime friend and fellow musician, Bobby Byrd). 

“That's how you have to make a film,” Taylor said, distilling the complicated process of filmmaking into an easy to understand morsel.  It makes good sense – give more screen time and weight to that which is working.

Taylor is also aided in “Get On Up” by the fact that the man whose life story is being told, James Brown, was a truly fascinating person.  He was a charismatic individual with an enormous amount of talent.

“People came because they could never predict what he was going to do, when he was going to do it, what he was going to look like,” Taylor said of Brown. “We wanted that spirit in our film.”

Utilizing a number of back-and-forth time jumps to show different moments of Brown's life next to one another, breaking the fourth wall on more than one occasion, and eschewing traditional biopic montages to show ups and downs in someone's life, “Get On Up” definitely breaks the mold.  It is not a movie where you regularly know what is going to come next, even if you know about Brown's life. 

You can decide for yourself whether or not it works starting today.

“Get On Up” is currently in theaters and its stars also include Jill Scott, Dan Aykroyd, and Craig Robinson.

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