Get on Up: The Pain of Playing James Brown

Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in Get on Up
Screenshot Get on Up
Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in Get on Up
Screenshot Get on Up

“You’re seeing a movie about a genius,” Chadwick Boseman says of Get on Up: The James Brown Story.

He’d know this better than anyone, as the man tasked to bring the icon to life—and that feat requires a genius quality all its own. Boseman sits down with The Root’s social media editor, Terron Moore, to explain all the fear, fun and trepidation that comes with portraying one of the most electrifying entertainers in history.

“The key to me was to tell a story about a man who was triumphant regardless of the situation he was in,” Boseman says. “His surroundings didn’t determine where he was within himself.”


Brown was many things to many music lovers—revolutionary singer, eye-popping performer, hero, icon, king of funk—and the latest big-screen treatment showcases every reason he is a legend. But for Boseman, there was one part of transforming into the R&B hero that was particularly painful: Those signature steps didn’t come so easily.

“It hurt!” he laughs when talking about re-creating Brown’s bodacious footwork. “It really opens your brain up in a different way, doing his movements.”

Watch our full interview with Chadwick Boseman below. Get on Up, which also stars Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jill Scott, Nelsan Ellis and Tika Sumpter, hits theaters Aug. 1.

Terron Moore is social media editor at The Root. 

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