by Justin Cook
British film director Steve McQueen has revealed that his next film will take a look at the life of singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson.
Earlier this year, McQueen’s powerful and expertly acted film 12 Years a Slave took home three Oscars for Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, and most importantly, Best Picture. The Robeson biopic will be the film’s follow-up.
McQueen announced the film while speaking at the Hidden Heroes Awards in New York City on Monday. He called the upcoming film a “dream” project of his that he hopes will show Robeson as the “incredible human being” he was.
At 14 years old, McQueen began to learn about Robeson through books and articles that his neighbor would show him. “It was about this black guy who was in Wales and was singing with these miners,” said McQueen.
Born in 1898, Robeson was a multi-talented African-American man who was politically active through much of his life. He spoke out against social injustices, including the way black people were treated in the United States, which oftentimes got him into trouble. Specifically, he was blacklisted as a communist during the McCarthy era.
The Robeson project is one that McQueen said he had been trying to make for somewhere around six years. McQueen added, “His life and legacy was the film I wanted to make the second after Hunger. But I didn’t have the power, I didn’t have the juice.”
Working with McQueen on the project will be Robeson’s close friend, the iconic Harry Belafonte. On top of being a friend, many of Belafonte’s political beliefs were greatly inspired by Robeson. Robeson was known to be a mentor of sorts to Belafonte.
On Belafonte, McQueen said, “We get on like a house on fire. I never thought I’d make a new friend, and a man who is 87 years old but I’m very happy, he’s a beautiful man.”
Much is still unknown about the project, such as the actor who will be playing Robeson, Belafonte’s exact role in the film and an official release date, but the movie is in more than capable hands with McQueen behind the camera.
Main Source and Quote Source: The Guardian