The seemingly forever-developing Nina Simone biopic is still moving, though it has been quite a while since there was been any substantial news. Way back in 2010, Mary J. Blige signed on for the lead with David Oyelowo to co-star, but very little happened since, and as with most projects involving musicians and estates, we figured various entanglements were holding it up. Well, whatever has been going on, it seems there is some movement.
IOTG reports that Zoe Saldana is now up for a role in “Nina,” though that’s about all the info there is at the moment. “The Brave One” writer Cynthia Mort is writing and directing the project about the legendary jazz musician and civil rights activist whose songs captured the mood of a nation and community (“Mississippi Goddamn,” “To Be Young Gifted And Black”), and an artist who really stood in a class of her own. But of all the interesting moments in her life to focus on, “Nina” will curiously center on the relationship with her assistant Clifton Henderson (David Oyelowo) that she maintained later in life. Again, it’s a bit baffling when the story of her rise from a Juilliard-trained pianist, who ended up playing Atlantic City clubs and never really thought about singing, into one of the most influential and empowering performers of her era is the stuff that seems more suited to a film. Though we reckon that perhaps some kind of flashback structure will be used.
It’s not clear if Saldana is taking over the lead (Blige seems to have exited), and she would be an odd choice, so we wonder if Saldana is portraying Simone, aka Lisa Celeste Stroud, the musician’s daughter. The ages line up about right — Stroud was just over 30 years old when her mother passed away — but again, we’ll see. At any rate, we’re glad to see this one is still kicking around, but no word how much closer it is to getting made. [IOTG]