Chronicling the life of rock music icon Jimi Hendrix on film has proven to be incredibly difficult in recent years. Not only is it a challenge to appropriately capture and highlight the essential moments of Hendrix's tragically short, but influential career; filmmakers also face the arduous roadblock known as the Hendrix estate, which has justly defended and protected the late rock legend's legacy by burying most unworthy projects before they begin.
In cases such as John Ridley's (12 Years a Slave) upcoming film All is By My Side - starring Andre 3000 as Hendrix - pushing forward without the family's approval has resulted in a penance of being barred from using the classic rock tunes that catapulted Hendrix to stardom. Apparently, the latest Hendrix biopic, Jimi, may not have that problem, as it appears to have won the Hendrix estate's blessing - with an approved script and rising star Anthony Mackie (Captain America: The Winter Solider) in the titular role.
According to Shadow and Act, the announcement of Jimi and Mackie's casting came recently at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Thandie Newton (Crash) is set to co-star in the film, which has been written and will be directed by her real life husband, Ol Parker. Noomi Rapace (Prometheus) is also currently in talks to join the cast as Hendrix's Swedish girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, a role played by Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) in Ridley's film.
The film, which is reportedly prepping to begin shooting soon, has actually been in the works for four years with Mackie attached to star. Originally titled "Crosstown Traffic" at Legendary Pictures, the project had Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) on board to direct, but the film was halted by the Hendrix estate - which objected to how the musician and artist was portrayed in the script. Although we haven't heard anything official from the Hendrix camp recently, those issues seem to have been resolved, based on this week's announcement.
With that major hurdle evidently cleared, the question from Hendrix fans will now be: Can Mackie accurately and affectionately portray Hendrix's on-stage charisma, as well as his off-stage cool, but reserved personality. After seeing a clip of Andre 3000's performance in All is By My Side a couple of months ago, we'd have to say the Outkast member was convincing, but based on Mackie's wide range of work in recent years, there's plenty to suggest he could do the role justice as well.
With Mackie in the lead and Hendrix's iconic catalog of rock classics seemingly fair game, Jimi appears to be headed in the right direction. We'll just have to see what approach this new biopic takes in telling his story. Will Jimi be more of a rock tribute, or an in-depth examination of the man beloved by millions, but known by few? Either way, it will fun to see Hendrix rocking on stage again and interesting to see Mackie under the bright spotlight, instead of as the sidekick.
We'll pass along updates on Jimi as news develops around the production.
Source: Shadow and Act