Paramount Pictures has released the first trailer for Bob Marley: One Love, the upcoming biopic on the legendary performer.
And unlike many biopics, it’s the first time we will see his life unfold on screen, and with his family’s involvement. Marley’s beloved wife, Rita, and two children – Ziggy and Cedalla – along with a host of family, friends, and insiders have all lent their hand to bring this Paramount film to life. Many have tried and failed to bring a project like this to fruition, but as Ziggy Marley said in an official Instagram statement: “Nothing happens before it’s time, and now is the time for the story of our father Bob Marley to be represented in a biopic theatrical release coming in 2024.”
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard) and starring Kingsley Ben-Adir (One Night in Miami) as Bob with Lashana Lynch (The Woman King) as his wife Rita, One Love promises to show viewers what it was like to be around the legend, to see his pain his sorrows his joys and his redemption. As noted by Ziggy, filmed in England and Jamaica, the cast and crew represent one of the most unique creations to ever come out of a Hollywood studio. The majority of the film includes Jamaican actors and crew members behind the scenes to ensure the essence of Bob and Jamaica is captured adequately. The film centers on the creation of his project Exodus and journeys back in time and foreshadows key moments in Bob’s life.
Shadow and Act spoke with Green and Ziggy Marley about working on the film from its inception. They discussed casting, storyline, goals, and keeping the film true to Bob and Jamaica.
Check out the teaser trailer below:
Obviously, everyone is super excited about it and I know that the family’s involvement has been super integral. Ziggy, how long has this project been in the works?
ZM: Well, this particular iteration of it, because I think since I was a little boy, I think many have been trying to make this movie. So it’s been years that it’s been in the works, but this iteration, it’s just been about four or five years. We’ve been on it from the beginning of the discussion with Paramount to finding great writers and stuff like that.
Reinaldo, this is a major undertaking as Bob Marley is so important to the culture and the world. So what reservations, if any, did you have about directing an authorized biopic about a figure like Bob Marley?
RMG: I had all the reservations. It’s hard. But I grew up an athlete, so I was always the I want to take the shot. I was always that guy that wanted the ball at the last second, at the buzzer. I wanted to at least be able to take the shot. And from the very first meeting that Ziggy was on as a producer, and to get that blessing from the family was huge. It was a huge weight off the shoulders to say, ‘Well, that they’re going to entrust me with the ability to kind of lead the ship.’ And that was a huge, huge weight off of me. It was a confidence booster. I’ve done a movie to say, ‘Hey, I’m ready for this next challenge in my life, I’m ready to shepherd this one’ So that was a huge help in that. And then the real work began.
We then got to work on casting the movie, and it was my job as far as bringing on the very best crew that I possibly could to help bring this story to life. And that’s what we did.
Ziggy, your mother, Rita, is listed as a producer, as well as one of your sisters, Cedella. What was the family’s ultimate goal with this iteration of the biopic to have you guys so involved in it?
ZM: The authenticity of it. It has to be authentic. So the family had to be involved. I had to deliver a message that’s been above all my life for someone above. We brought that authenticity to it. So it’s not just some stranger or random people in charge of this project. You couldn’t do that with a Bob Marley movie. It’s the real people telling the real story, in the right places. And that’s what we are about. Bob was real. Real.
Now, expanding upon the idea of authenticity, there’s always a complaint about authenticity in films when casting biopics or period pieces. Bob and his family are Jamaican. They lived and breathe the island. Reinaldo, how did you go about ensuring that the casting represented that and was true to their lives?
RMG: We were looking for the best actor for the role, and we found that in Kingsley Ben-Adir from his very first audition tape–and we went through several hundred. It was a lot. We scoured every island in the Caribbean that we could. And when I saw that tape, I know Ziggy and I, we looked at each other and were like, ‘The foundation is there.’ He just had he had the ability to tap into the essence. And we knew from there it was just the foundation. From there, the real work began. He had to lose weight. The physical transformation of learning to play guitar, learning to sing, learning dialect – all of that had to take place. It was like a boot camp of how he was going to be able to do that. And he did that times ten. He really went deep into the research. He provided an incredible performance as an actor and showed that he is just a real talent, and somebody that was militant in his commitment to honoring that. And that’s what we were looking for– somebody that was committed to going on that journey, you have to be a little like me. You have to be a little crazy to take this on. You can’t fake it. You’ve got to be bold to be able to do that. And Kingsley is bold. He was bold in his performance. He was bold in his choices. I can’t say enough about his commitment to that, to the project. And I think we found the right person for the job.
And to that end, we found Lashana Lynch, who is Jamaican and an incredible performer herself, and just a remarkable actress, was somebody that was willing and able. And the chemistry that those two have together on screen is electric. I can’t wait for the world to see them together for sure.
ZM: I want to add to that by saying that the other actors, the other cast members that we surrounded Kingsley and Lashana with are all Jamaican. And for Kinglsey, he was able to live around a lot of Jamaicans and absorb what it is to be a Jamaican. The rest of the cast and the band members are Jamaicans.
RMG: And we did that on purpose. It was important to surround our leads with authenticity. Not only by having Jamaicans in the roles, but we had real-life offspring of some of the people that are represented in the film. And so so we have real casting members who are real family members of the key people in the film. Bunny Wailer’s son is in the movie. It’s pretty remarkable to have that because you can’t make that up. Those are things that you can’t get in your traditional casting process.
We had tremendous casting directors on this film. from local Jamaican casting to Abby Kaufman in New York who were just really, really tremendous – to the UK casting where we filmed scenes in England. There was no stone left unturned and we made it our mission to try to find the very best that we could to support Kingsley and Lashana in this role.
ZM: I’m Bob’s offspring, and I’m working on the film, but we also some of them on off-screen in the movie. The connection that’s in this film is crazy. We had some of the guys who played some of the extras who were playing the shots on the stage. They were the actual guys that were on that stage with my dad. The One Love live concert, they came in and killed it. It is really connected. It’s a spiritual connection there.
Ziggy, how do you feel as if Kingsley and Lashana embody Bob and Rita Marley?
ZM: We know that we can never replace Bob. So don’t expect that. We are artists. It is a representation of the spirit, the essence of a model that Kingsley drew deep into and did a great job. And he was very adamant about being real and emotionally aware of what Bob was going through at this time. Not everything you will see in this film is a smile. Not everything is positive. There’s an emotional thing that Bob was going through that Kingsley was able to capture and understand for himself and even help us to go in the direction that he wanted to go. He was that adamant about creating not just the superficial Bob Marley, but a deeper emotional Bob Marley for the people to experience in this film. And that is something that s lot of people have little knowledge about. Did Bob ever cry? Was he ever in trouble? Was he ever not perfect? So, Kingsley, definitely helped us to explore that.
Lashana helped us to understand how important my mother was in creating this person that we know. She came in and she gave us some notes.
So she came in and took control?
ZM: Yes. She was powerful. The woman represented well. The woman’s side of this story is very strong, too. And she helped us to get there.
Reinaldo, according to the logline, the film centers around Bob’s album ‘Exodus,’ along with other personal and professional highlights. But why make this specific project the focus point of this film?
RMG: Well, 1976 and 1977 were great periods in Bob’s life. You really need to understand that period of time to understand Bob the man, and what he was going through spiritually, and emotionally as a father, as a husband, and as a musician. From the very beginning, we were not interested in doing sort of a cradle-to-grave story. We didn’t feel like we needed to do that, to capture the essence of what Bob was going through at that time. This is a very rich period of Bob’s life in terms of his maturation process, of his becoming a man, of his leaving a legacy to the world. And I think it’s important to know that particular period of time.
Politically, what was happening in Jamaica at that point is very, very important during that time. And so I think dropping us in that in that particular window of time gives us access to his entire life in a lot of ways it captures just the right moment. And I think it’s very important in films.
In my previous film, King Richard, we had a very finite window of four years that we needed to capture to show you. And I think here with the Bob Markley biopic, we picked the right window of time in Bob’s life. And so I think that was significant from the script stage. I think we all felt it. There are flashes to Bob’s earlier life for sure, and critical moments of his childhood. But again, as we said, it was not important to go from the date he was born to the day he died in order to capture the essence of the man. What’s most important is that we understand that Bob still has left a legacy that’s still going strong. Today is for the next generation of kids. And in order to do that, we felt like 1976 and 1977 was the right period to focus on it.
Ziggy, was there anything for you and your mom and your sister and other family members and offspring that were involved that you guys felt were completely off limits to touch on for the film?
ZM: No. We wanted to be real with it. We didn’t sugarcoat anything. So you’re going to see some stuff in there that I didn’t know about, and others didn’t know either. We’re not just putting in the good, not just putting in the bad – it was everything. We want to bring it to the people real and raw. We want them to say, ‘I didn’t know that about Bob.’ For so long, this has been our bubble. You’re going to be surprised by what you see.
Ziggy, what about Bob Marley do you feel makes him such a cultural phenomenon?
ZM: The world can relate to him. It’s not just his music. He wasn’t just in this bubble. Bob was a people person. He wasn’t your average star where he was high up and others were below him and he felt untouchable. He was a part of the people. And I think that is a difference between him and others. There was a true connection. People felt that he was a friend [or] a brother. There’s a lot of music about his personality that shows who he is and he was engaging and inviting to his people and beyond. I feel like when I’m watching interviews and stuff with him, I talk to him like he’s my brother. He truly lived the idea of one love. People felt like, ‘I know this guy.’ I feel like that’s what it’s about is about. The music was just one part. He never embraced that kind of stardom idea. And that is what people connect with.
And Reinaldo what would you say makes him such a cultural phenomenon and has contributed to his legacy last as long as it has? Because there are not many in our culture, at least musically, that have the same impact. We have Tupac Shakur, and then we have Bob Marley.
ZM: There’s still such an enigma and mystery around Bob. There’s something that people want to know. You feel like you know him, but you don’t. And I think that’s what makes him so intriguing. You can’t go to any corner of the world and not see a Bob Marley shirt or T-shirt or hear his music. He’s everywhere. But you still don’t know Bob Marley, the man. And so it’s kind of this amazing ability to spread this message. And you there’s something that’s reserved about that man that you want an insight to. And we think the film allows us just a little access into that, into that window, and figure out who the human being was, who was Bob as a person, as a father, as a husband. And I think those are things that people really want to see. What was it like when Bob was creating music in his bedroom? We’ve never seen that before. Those are the things that I think are really intriguing about him and his life. I think the lyrics of his music, in the film hopefully, bring us closer to understanding the lyrics, not just hearing them, but understanding them, understanding what he was singing for, why he was singing for it. And those are things to fight for. Those are things to stand up for. And I think that spirit is what we try to capture. And I think that’s what makes Bob the legend that he is. And it’s incredible.