Whispers about Andre 3000 playing Jimi Hendrix in a movie have been buzzing for a while now, but a New York Times article about the complicated history and re-emergence of the biopic genre brings the rapper's star turn as the legendary guitar genius front and center.
Andre — billed as André Benjamin — plays the young Hendrix in All Is by My Side, a small indie film written and directed by John Ridley. The film had its premiere screening over the weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Ridley went in search of a distributor. The director hopes that the long lines to get in to the screening are a sign of good things to come:
“A film like this does not happen by accident,” Mr. Ridley told the assembled fans. Their presence offered hope for what has been a faltering marriage between film biography and music …
Part of the significance of Mr. Ridley’s movie is that no major studio or affiliate has attempted the genre since 2009, when Fox Searchlight released “Notorious,” about Notorious B.I.G., and Paramount and DreamWorks opened “The Soloist,” about a homeless cellist, both to modest success …
Ridley's passion for the project enabled him to continue in the face of rejection:
“This got to be a story I was so passionate about, I could not give it up,” Mr. Ridley said. His conviction prompted him to persist with the project even though it was turned down by executives who didn’t share his fascination with what he calls “the emotional velocity” of Hendrix’s birth as a rock artist …
A number of filmmakers, including Paul Greengrass and the Hughes Brothers, had hoped to capture Hendrix in a dramatic film since his death in 1970, at the age of 27. “Some very talented and accomplished individuals tried and, for one reason or another, were not able to seal the deal,” Mr. Ridley said.
Read more at the New York Times.
Jozen Cummings is the author and creator of the popular relationship blog Until I Get Married, which is currently in development for a television series with Warner Bros. He also hosts a weekly podcast with WNYC about Empire called Empire Afterparty, is a contributor at VerySmartBrothas.com and works at Twitter as an editorial curator. Follow him on Twitter.