How '42' Star Prepped to Play Baseball Great

Chadwick Boseman told us how equipment Jackie Robinson used and research helped him with the role.

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"What I found in everything I read, and especially when you heard the Negro League players talk about him, is that like most Negro League players, he was basically an opinionated, assertive, outspoken person who was not afraid to fight, and all of that," Boseman continued. "In acting, we talk about what a character is bringing in the room. I had to figure out what Jackie Robinson was bringing in the room at key moments in the film."

Robinson wasn't the first black person to play in Major League Baseball, but he is credited with breaking the color barrier in a way that forced people to make changes in baseball. Moses Fleetwood "Fleet" Walker suited up for the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884 and cracked the door open for Robinson, 63 years before that game-changing day at Ebbets Field in 1947.

So like Robinson, Boseman is bringing something into the room in a role that has landed him squarely in the major leagues of Hollywood. He's bringing the weight of other black actors' performances in the role. Indeed, Robinson played himself in the 1950 film The Jackie Robinson Story, 63 years before Boseman's turn at bat.

Like Robinson, too, Boseman is poised for success through preparation, humility and respect for those who came before him. But also like the baseball legend, Boseman understands that he has the weight of black actors' still-emerging options in Hollywood on his shoulders, even if he isn't loud about it.

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., is editor-at-large for The Root. She is also editor-in-chief of the Burton Wire, a blog dedicated to world news related to the African Diaspora and global culture. Follow her on Twitter.

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Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., is founder and editor-in-chief of the Burton Wire. A media scholar and critic who is an expert on the intersection of race, class, gender and sexuality with film, television and new media, Burton is associate professor of communication and media studies at Goucher College in Baltimore. Follow her on Twitter.

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