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Zoe Saldana To Play Nina Simone?
Update! She's signed on

15 August 2012  |  Written by Owen Williams  |  Source: IOTG (via The Playlist)

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Zoe Saldana To Play Nina Simone?

Update! According to The Hollywood Reporter, Saldana is officially on board to play Simone, replacing Mary J Blige in the lead. Oyelowo is still aboard as Clifton Henderson. 

...

The film has been gradually developing for several years now, but it looks as if Nina, the Nina Simone biopic, is finally moving forward, with Zoe Saldana apparently in line to star. The screenplay is by Cynthia Mort (The Brave One), based on Simone's 1992 autobiography I Put A Spell On You.

Back in 2010, deals at Cannes saw the film coming together with Mary J Blige in the title role and David Oyelowo as Simone's assistant Clifton Henderson. That bit of information, and the bare synopsis released at the time, suggested that the film would focus on Simone and Henderson's relationship, which happened relatively late in Simone's life. The Playlist suggest that that might be a framing narrative however, giving scope for the wider points of her extraordinary career to be told in lengthy flashback.

There's certainly drama there. Born in North Carolina in 1933, Simone initially planned a career as a classical pianist, but was denied a scholarship to Philadelphia's Curtis Institute Of Music because of her colour. Drifting into performing in bars she built a loyal following and began to have recorded successes, and she became a prominent member of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, including its message on visceral tracks like Mississippi Goddam, Old Jim Crow and her cover of Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit.

She stopped paying tax in the US as a protest against the Vietnam War, which made her an exile from the States in later life. To avoid arrest, she settled in Barbados for some time - she had a long relationship with its Prime Minister Errol Barrow - before moving on to Liberia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and finally the South of France. She died in Bouches-du-Rhone in 2003.

Whether Blige and Oyelowo remain attached the film is unclear. IOTG's brief announcement only actually says that Saldana "will star in Nina", which doesn't explicitly say that she'll be playing Nina Simone. The Playlist suggest that, if Blige is still on board at the top, Saldana could possibly be involved as her daughter, Lisa Celeste Stroud, the Broadway actress and singer who performs under the name "Simone".

More questions than answers, then. The film was initially intended to start filming two years ago. Clearly that didn't happen, but the project remains at Ealing Studios. More as we get it. 


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Your Comments

RE: Please no Saldana
L: launcelot Typical lack of Hollywood imagination picking the first inoffensive lightweight casting they can think of. rue dat. They should have picked Roseanne Barr. More

Posted by UTB at 13:59 on 16 August 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Please no Saldana
Oh I agree - I just don't see Saldana as being a very good actress. Also, I think Hill may have other probs at the moment. Curiously similar though Hill's tax issues don't seem to be an issue of conscience. More

Posted by elab49 at 10:37 on 16 August 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Please no Saldana
I agree re not needing to cast singers to play singers by the way. More

Posted by launcelot at 10:23 on 16 August 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Please no Saldana
No, I mean I think she's bland. Even in roles that don't demand much acting actors with personality and depth can convey something behind the eyes - emotional depth. I just don't see her having the quality to bring Simone, the sensitive, troubled, soulful singer to life with any justice. More

Posted by launcelot at 10:22 on 16 August 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Please no Saldana
You mean we've never seen her in a role that requires acting before? True. 'm not sure I get the point of casting Blige - a singer doesn't need to play a singer. I'm sure they have lots of actors to do that. More

Posted by elab49 at 16:00 on 15 August 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Please no Saldana
it does say at the bottom though that she may not be playing nina simone but her daughter. shes just attched to the film itself. i think its a good choice though - she may surprise people - as we've never seen her in a role like this before. More

Posted by buffster28 at 15:57 on 15 August 2012 | Report This Post

Please no Saldana
I'd love to see a biopic of Nina Simone if done well. But Zoe Saldana? She just doesn't have soul. Were Beyonce and Halle Berry already booked? Typical lack of Hollywood imagination picking the first inoffensive lightweight casting they can think of. Why not cast with a little more imagination. How about Lauryn Hill?! More

Posted by launcelot at 13:09 on 14 August 2012 | Report This Post

Zoe to play Nina.....really?
I have to admit that this is a suprise.I have heard over about this project and i did not think for one second Zoe Saldana(my favourite actress) would be in the running for the lead role of Nina Simone.If this happens it would be great to see it.Heres hoping. More

Posted by stephen35 at 09:50 on 14 August 2012 | Report This Post

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