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This Was Almost A Documentary About BrownJagger's intentions were much more modest, stating, "It was much simpler for me because I was asked by a business associate and friend, Peter Afterman, if I would make a documentary about James Brown. I said, let me think about that, and then I woke up in the morning and said, let's make a feature!" Jagger soon learned that Brian Grazer was working on another version, so the two combined their star power to make the film happen.
Mick Jagger Once Played On The Same Bill With James Brown – It Didn't Go Well: Jagger and the Rolling Stones memorably played on the same bill during the T.A.M.I. Festival in 1964, where Brown was told to forgo the closing slot in favor of the Rolling Stones. This moment exists in the film, with the young Stones watching from the wings in awe as Brown dominates the stage. What you didn't see was Jagger's attempt to smooth things over with Brown.
"It was a very exciting show," Jagger crowed. "James Brown was definitely the star of the show, but there were other people that I was really interested in meeting for the first time. I had seen James Brown before at the Apollo, and the experience was that James was a bit annoyed about not being the last on the show. As I was the only one who had met him before, out of all the people who worked on the show, I was like the fall guy. I was like 20 or something, and they were like, you go talk to him, you know him, you go chill him out. And when you're 20, you go, 'Sure, ok, I'll do it.'" Jagger smiled at the memory, which apparently got him yelled at by Brown. "Of course it didn't work!"
Viola Davis Is A BOSS: Director Tate Taylor last worked with Viola Davis on The Help, which earned Davis an Oscar nomination. Davis repaid the favor by taking on a small but pivotal role in Get On Up as Brown's estranged mother, who finally resurfaces when Brown has achieved his greatest success. Now that Davis has earned the respect and adoration of her peers, however, the rest of the production merely goes on shutdown mode in complete awe when Davis performs.
"When Viola comes to work, you notice that people in the production office happen to be on set that day," Taylor explains. "The accountants, the teamsters, it gets crowded. And then she starts to work, it's like live theater, everyone watches. She's one of the greatest actors in the world."
Boseman only has the one scene with her, and found that Davis was purposely giving him space in order to create the unique, frayed dynamic seen onscreen. "It was such an intense scene," Boseman sighs. "It felt like she had sort of set up our relationship in a way where she didn't talk to me. We talked the night before, in code, as the scene was being revamped. When we were in that meeting, Viola didn't really talk to me, she talked to Tate. I assumed that she didn't want to build a personal relationship, she wanted that distance to be there."
Everybody Loves "I'm Black And I'm Proud": When asked to name a favorite Brown song, Jill Scott spoke up. "I remember being on 22nd and Lehigh Avenue, and someone was playing 'I'm Black and I'm Proud,' I'm pretty sure I was in elementary school," she remembers. "But I remember the guy was at the stoplight and the music was blaring. And something in me stood up a little bit higher, I puffed my chest out listening to that song, that was the first James Brown feeling that I remember."
Boseman, Nelsan Ellis and Octavia Spencer also loved the song. Brian Grazer, however, gave us the priceless image of the super-producer in a low-rider car. "In high school I was in a low-rider car club," he explained to incredulous laughter. "And I'd plug in the eight track, it was the Rolling Stones, it was Little Anthony and the Imperials, and it was James Brown, 'It's A Man's Man's Man's World.'"
Jagger, meanwhile, had worn out his copy of "Live At The Apollo" long before he met Brown. "I loved every tune of it, backwards and forwards," he raved. "What was odd was that I'd never actually seen him perform, I just imagined the whole thing in my head. When we were preparing the movie, Chad and I played the very long track, 'Lost Someone,' and it brought back all those memories."
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