By LESLIE COLLINS
April 17, 2013
Harrison Ford, along with other movie stars and baseball legends, graced the red carpet April 11 for the Kansas City premiere of the movie “42,” starring Ford (Branch Rickey) and Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson).
Written and directed by Brian Helgeland, “42” captures the story of Jackie Robinson, who played for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues and later the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Branch Rickey, Brooklyn Dodgers’ general manager. Rickey took a stand against prejudice, breaking baseball’s color barrier by offering Robinson a spot on the Dodgers team. Both men received backlash from the public, the press and other players, but they refused to give in to the negativity.
Robinson’s career and life deeply impacted the game of baseball and in 1997, Major League Baseball retired Robinson’s baseball number, 42, for every team, which marked the first time in sports for a number to be universally retired. To honor Robinson’s memory, baseball teams wear the No. 42 every April 15 – the date of Robinson’s first Dodgers game – in commemoration of Jackson Robinson Day.
For “42” Producer Thomas Tull, the biggest challenge of “42” was looking Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, in the eye and telling her “we did it right.”
“It’s one thing if you’re doing Batman, or Superman, or things like that; it’s another thing if it’s Jackie Robinson,” Tull said. “She’s (Rachel) such a class act and we’re just honoring him through this.
“Meeting a true living legend – she is the classiest, most graceful person. She is 90 years old and to me she doesn’t look a day over 60, and I am in awe of her. She’s incredible.”
Boseman said he felt the pressure to live up to Robinson’s legacy.
“He’s a hero to a lot of people for a lot of different reasons because he’s done so many things, whether it be civil rights, workers rights, as a baseball player, everything,” Boseman said. “He’s just an amazing person overall…
“I knew I had to live up to a certain standard because kids would know who he is based upon my performance, and you have a responsibility to the family to get it right… It’s a tremendous amount of pressure.”
When Northeast News asked what he hopes audiences take away from the movie, Boseman listed several things. Boseman said he hopes audiences “get a visceral sense of what it was like to be in his shoes.”
Instead of shooting above the baseball diamond, like most people watch a baseball game, Helgeland mostly used camera angles from on the field, Boseman said. Several shots used footage from cameras placed inside the bases, he said.
“He (Helgeland) wanted you to be able to get up close and personal and follow him (Robinson). So, that you could feel like you are him,” Boseman said. “I essentially want you to see what it’s like to be in his shoes, to be an outsider, to find the courage to break not just color barriers, but people’s traditions and state of mind. That’s ultimately why we watch all movies, so we can walk in the shoes of the hero.”