Standing on the Soldier of a Giant

For newcomer Chadwick Boseman, who bears a striking resemblance to Robinson, playing Number 42 was not only the opportunity of a lifetime but a part that resonated with him in a profound way.

“Once you know the full scope of what he did—on the baseball field and in his later work in the Civil Rights movement—you realize that his contribution to society was tremendous, and not just in the sports world. He paved the way for people in every field, so I feel a personal connection to him because I am literally standing on his shoulders right now.”

For the baseball part of the story, Boseman admits it took many, many hours to look convincing as a legend, particularly because Jackie’s batting stance was so unique.

“I felt I had to down my own stunts,” Boseman explains. “I couldn’t separate the acting from the stunts because you need to see Jackie’s face; you need to see the courage, the defiance, the fear and even the fun because, at the end of the day, he loves the game. That’s an important aspect of the story.”

Not shying from the uncomfortable realities of racism with scenes that reveal the ugliness and ignorance of sinful man, what also inspired Boseman and everyone involved in 42 was the loving and supportive marriage that Jackie had with Rachel, something that several African-American reporters in the press room noted was "rare" in today’s movies.

Faith also figures prominently into the storyline as Rickey reminds Robinson that God built him to last, and that sense of divine intervention adds another integral dimension in explaining not only who Robinson was, but Who was by his side through the struggle and victory.

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including language, 42 opens nationwide on April 12.

Publication date: April 8, 2013