Chadwick Boseman Discusses How He Snagged The Role of Jackie Robinson In ’42’

Even if Chadwick Boseman landed the role of a lifetime in the Jackie Robinson biopic 42, it was actually sitting in the director’s chair that brought such a career-changing opportunity.

“I actually was directing a play off Broadway in New York and just happened to go back to L.A. for a short trip,” the Howard album tells VIBE. “My agent was like, ‘Hey, they are doing this Jackie Robinson project. Do you want to go in for it? and I was like, ‘Sure but first, I gotta get back to direct my off Broadway play. (laughs)”

While Boseman’s priorities at the time had him interested elsewhere, he admits that meeting with the film’s director Brian Helgeland wasn’t a typical audition.

“I ended up staying one extra day to meet Brian Helgeland and [casting director] Vicki Thomas and it was like an hour long meeting which is rare,” he recalls. “Most of the time you go in and at most, it’s like 15 minutes for an audition. We talked for at least 45 minutes…because he wanted me to get a sense of why he wanted to do the film and why it was important to him.”

While the playwright didn’t feel like he immediately nabbed it, it was an actual baseball game that boosted his ego.

“I left [the audition] feeling good about but not necessarily thinking that I was going to get the role,” he said. “I think it was the night after we finished the play in New York and it was the last game of the World Series, so I caught the
end of the game, I’m sitting here, watching it and a friend was standing beside me. I said, ‘Hey, you know what? That audition I did in L.A.? I’m going to get that.”

Catch Boseman illuminate the big screen in 42 as it hits theaters April 12.