Chadwick Boseman Gave ’42’ Directors a Hard Time So the Film Would Be More Authentic

Chadwick Boseman was a talented writer, producer, and actor. He is best known for his role as the title character in Black Panther. But before Boseman joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he starred in iconic history-based films like Marshall and 42, the biopic about Jackie Robinson. 

While filming the film about Robinson, Boseman talked about having to push back on his directors so that the movie captured the legendary Robinson accurately.

Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman | Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Chadwick Boseman died Aug. 28, 2020

At 43 years old, Boseman died in his home with his loving wife and family by his side. He had been battling cancer for four years. 

“Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last four years as it progressed to stage IV,” a statement on Boseman’s social media accounts reads. “A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much.” 

Boseman’s death came as a shock to many fans, as he rarely spoke about his illness. He is remembered for his work in theater, television, and film.

Chadwick Boseman played the iconic Jackie Robinson

In an interview on the Off Camera with Sam Jones podcast, Boseman talked about his work on the film 42. To play Robinson accurately, Boseman studied countless hours of Hall of Fame footage.

“The closer [I got to] looking like him, the more [I felt], ‘OK, I have to do this,'” Boseman said, referring to physically playing the baseball portrayed in the film. “I remember showing up on set for 42, and I had done all of this work — months and months of baseball training — and the stunt coordinator, Allan Graf, had a stunt double there to do all of my baseball stuff.” 

Boseman, who had the utmost respect for Graf, said he was “livid” when he was replaced by a stunt double in the baseball scenes he had studied so much. 

Chadwick Boseman gave directors ‘sh*t’ for using a stunt double 

When Boseman discovered directors wanted to use a stunt double for the baseball scenes, he wouldn’t have it.

“I’m on the side watching [the stunt double] do it, and every time he did it, I was like, ‘That’s wrong. That’s wrong. That’s wrong.’ I [gave them] so much sh*t that they [couldn’t] even shoot the scene.” 

Boseman insisted he do his own stunts. “I’m pointing out things that I know Jackie Robinson [wouldn’t do],” he said. “I’ve done the side-by-sides that he did and the stunt double has not watched it like I have done. He’s not even close.” 

Boseman’s biggest problem with the stunt double was the way he slid onto bases.

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“He’s sliding on his right — Jackie Robinson always slid on his left side,” Boseman explained. The stunt double would slide in such a way to get the best camera angle, but Boseman didn’t like the shot’s inauthenticity. 

“I watched every piece of [Jackie Robinson] footage,” Boseman said. “He never ever, ever, ever slid on that side, and he never held his arm [the way the stunt double held it] when he was sliding.” 

Boseman explained how Robinson suffered an injury on his right side that nearly ended his career. He believed Robinson always slid on his left side because of that injury. 

Boseman’s persistence in correcting the stunt double paid off. Eventually, producers let Boseman do his own baseball takes “to shut him up.” 

Chadwick Boseman brought authenticity to his role as Jackie Robinson in ’42’ 

In addition to making the film more authentic, Boseman made it easier for the editors who had to cut it. Instead of having to cut the footage to disguise the stunt double, editors had a much easier time working with footage that was all Boseman. 

“You don’t get the story — the emotion that went into this movement,” Boseman said of having a stunt double play the physical parts of Robinson. “I wanted to do this because I worked at it, and I want to make the movie better,” Boseman concluded.