Harrison Ford has officially signed on to the role of Branch Rickey, the the Hall of Fame baseball executive who integrated the sport by promoting Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, Legendary Pictures announced today.
Meanwhile a relatively unknown, up-and-coming young actor has landed the role of the iconic ballplayer.
Yesterday, Ford’s name was floated as a possible contender for the part. Robert Redford had been long interested in the role — and reportedly attached as recently as last April. The film is known as 42 (referencing Robinson’s uniform number). The film, written and directed by Brian Helgeland (Payback, A Knight’s Tale), focuses on how Rickey bypassed more talented black superstars and selected the 27-year-old Robinson in part because his maturity and strong character prepared him for the abuse he would likely face from the less enlightened baseball fans of that era.
The lead role of Robinson goes to Chadwick Boseman, according to Legendary. It’s a big break for Boseman, who has had small roles in lots of TV shows, including Justified, Castle, and a supporting role in the 2008 football drama The Express. He next appears in the lead of the indie drama Kill Hole, about a troubled Iraq War veteran.