Back in December, it was reported that newcomer Chadwick Boseman would be highlighting the Brian Helgeland-helmed Jackie Robinson biopic “42,” portraying the first black baseball player to play in the Major Leagues. It was surely exciting news for Boseman, as well as for once-reliable actor Harrison Ford, who landed the role of Robinson’s Brooklyn Dodger exec Branch Rickey who initially signed Robinson to the team. It was a role that Jack Nicholson and Robert Redford had reportedly been circling, so it was great for the actor who’s most recent work has consisted of mediocre offerings like “Morning Glory” and “Cowboys & Aliens.”
Now Deadline is reporting that another thesp is about to be plucked from the minor leagues of network television cop drama “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” and brought up to major Hollywood Filmmaking. ‘Law & Order’ tough guy Christopher Meloni is joinging the cast of Helgeland’s “42” as Dodger’s manager Leo “The Lip” Durocher, who was an adamant supporter of Robinson’s during his historic breaking of baseball’s color line. Legendary Pictures is producing and as we previously reported, Robinson’s widow Rachel Robinson is consulting during the early stages of production.
The part seems right for Meloni, who’s showed a wide acting range in projects from “Wet Hot American Summer” to the forthcoming season of “True Blood,” and recently received a bump in his acting profile from landing a role in Zack Snyder’s upcoming “Man of Steel.” This already sounds like the sort of material that would make for an aggressive awards season campaign, so we’re guessing along with Ford and Boseman we may see “For Your Consideration” ads for Meloni someday, but this doesn’t even have a starting date for production yet, so maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
The only question mark here is Helgeland, who’s dipped his toes into directing with two forgettable Heath Ledger vehicles in “A Knight’s Tale” and “The Order,” but has an Oscar for co-writing “L.A. Confidential” and other high-profile scripts to boot. With this impressive ensemble forming and an iconic figure to portray, we’ll have to hope Helgeland is swinging for the bleachers with this one, and not content to simply walk to first.