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Jesse L. Martin Has Replaced Lenny Kravitz In Julien Temple’s Marvin Gaye Biopic

Jesse L. Martin Has Replaced Lenny Kravitz In Julien Temple's Marvin Gaye Biopic

What an interesting turn of events! Fans who’ve been calling for a Jesse L. Martin/Marvin Gaye biopic just might be getting their wish!

It’s been a long journey for the various Marvin Gaye projects that we’ve been following since this site was created almost 4 years ago.

Our last Marvin Gaye biopic entry was in December when it was reported that Marvin Gaye’s son (Marvin Gaye III), who’s also a childhood friend of the man who had been cast to play his father, Lenny Kravitz, in Julien Temple’s Sexual Healing, had asked Kravitz to “walk away from the role,” adding that he was “shocked” that Lenny actually agreed to star in the project, calling it “shameful.

What exactly was Marvin Gaye III’s issue here? Same as many of the others. Here’s what he told TMZ:

producers and directors of this film are very wrong and shameful …
[They’re] trying to do a film about a low period in his life. They don’t
even know the whole story.”

Recall my post on vices versus virtues in biopics about black public figures…

while he and Lenny are still very much pals today, Marvin III was hoping
that he could talk to Lenny openly about the project. He also said that he and
other Gaye family members were going to meet with lawyers to figure out
how they could stop the film from moving forward.

I don’t believe Kravitz ever responded publicly to any of this.

It was about 2 weeks prior (in mid-November) that we first reported that Kravitz had been tapped to play Marvin Gaye in British filmmaker Julien Temple’s previously titled Midnight Love project.

However, revealed this afternoon, Jesse L. Martin, who himself was attached to a different Marvin Gaye biopic, has now replaced Kravitz in Temple’s film. No public statement on why this replacement happened.

Martin had long been attached to star in another Marvin Gaye biopic that was to be directed by newcomer, Lauren Goodman, and produced by James Gandolfini. Last we reported on that project was at least a year ago, when Martin, seemingly dejected at challenges he was facing in getting his project off the ground, said, in an interview, that he didn’t think it would happen, adding that we might actually see it on the stage first before it becomes a film.

The remaining rundown of Marvin Gaye projects still in Limbo looks something like this: We know that F. Gary Gray has long been trying to get his Marvin Gaye project off the ground; and director Cameron Crowe has been working on a Marvin Gaye project for almost 5 years, with most recent news stating that Terrence Howard was in talks to play the man (previously offered to Will Smith).

Temple’s film, which looks like it’ll be first off the blocks, will focus on the making of the Midnight Love
album, while Gaye was living in Belgium – a drug addict, essentially
considered something of a has-been.

As I reported previously, Janis Gaye, the late singer’s second and last wife (he was married twice), doesn’t approve of Temple’s project, because it would “focus on his drug abuse, on other negative aspects of his life.

And clearly Gaye’s son doesn’t approve either.

was early in 2011 that it had been given a greenlight, and financing
for its $8 million budget; although, at that time, there was no word on who was being considered for the title role.

Principal photography was scheduled to begin in Belgium late 2011,
but that didn’t happen. There were some rights issues outstanding.

An earlier report on this said that EMI, which holds the rights to Gaye’s music, on behalf of his children, Nona GayeMarvin Gaye III, and Frankie Gaye,
was understood to be ready to give the greenlight to Julien Temple’s $8
million film. So it could be that Temple doesn’t need the explicit
script approval from Gaye’s family, nor Berry Gordy
(who also opposed the project) to move forward with it, and it
was strictly a music rights hold-up, which has now been resolved.

Shooting is now set to begin later this month in Europe, with Brendan Gleason co-starring alongside Jesse L. Martin as Gaye.

Let’s see if this actually does move forward, or if it experiences further hold-ups.

In the meantime, catch Martin when he guests on Smash on NBC tomorrow night at 10pm ET/9pm C.

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Exciting news! The frustrations have been heard and reached the ears of those in the decision making positions. Martin is a much better choice!
If only this could've happened with the Nina Simone film….


Thank you Jesus! A prayer answered today!


I hate the term "warts and all".

There are articles, books,doc.s about Marvin Gaye's life and personal struggles…..his very public struggles.

I saw a doc. called "last 24 hours of gaye's life" the other day and I think M.E. Dyson wrote a book about Gaye's life that I got as a gift one year.

There's nothing bold or brave about making a film highlighting a public figure's shortcomings…actually the's lazy cowardly way to make a buck.

Would take more creativity and talent to focus on less controversial aspects of the person's life and still make an interesting film.

sex,drugs, rock and roll..stunts blunts hiphop

seen the same story a million times

beyond cliche…

Holliday Hills

Lenny Kravitz is black, btw… His mom is Roxie Roker, who is as black as the Ace of Spades (i say that lovingly, in that I am that black also). His dad is white, but we know what that means in this country, plus Marvin had a medium brown complexion so many hues of black actors could play him.


Although I do like Lenny, finally…now this is casting turning in the right direction. Only hope the script is worthy now.


Again I'm agreeing with Akimbo.

In reference to the much heated ado about nothing (the families input in biopics) I tend to believe they can be more of a impediment than an asset. Well, as Dankwa implied, who wants to see one-half of the story? And I can't help but believe the family is more concerned with telling "their" story.

Now don't get me wrong, if certain "alleged" improprieties are nothing but rumors and/or unsubstantiated gossip, I could care less if they're included in a biopic. But in the case of Marvin Gaye, his whole life and career was immersed in a drug world. And possibly, by a natural extention, that could lead to Berry Gordy holding up the stop sign. There's no secret that the drug culture had a stronghold on Motown's early life. Which, by the way, led to the demise — and death–of many of it's performers, including, as we know, Marvin Gaye.

Marvin's substance abuse problems did not start with Midnight Love era. That was just the beginning to the end.

But in the end, this biopic will only be as good as the director's vision and his ability to give us a story that's not steeped in camp, feel good memory lanes and half-truths.

On the issue of Jesse L Martin vs Lenny Kravitz, personally, I would prefer Kravitz. Although Martin is an adequate actor and he looks –somewhat- like Marvin Gaye (how important is that nonsense anyway?), I know Mr. Kravitz can reach and embody the heart and soul of R&B singer, and all that encompasses. And, without question, on the business tip, Kravitz would be the wise choice. When I hear the name Jessie L. Martin, I think of the struggles facing Idris Elba. Who are those guys behind those Foster Grants, anyway? I don't think the average audience can answer that question.




Lenny Kravitz? What the hell were they thinking? Mr. Martin is a much better choice. Actually, compared with Lenny Kravitz, Adam Sandler would've been a much better choice.


PERFECT!! I always said that he looked like Marvin Gaye and should play him in a biopic. Now lets just hope he delivers.

Amy Green

Great choice! Rooting for him, love his work. Super talented, and LOOKS more like Marvin Gaye. Usher for the younger Marvin, maybe?

Dankwa Brooks

First as a 'Law & Order' fan I'm happy for Jessie. I really saw him grow as an actor on that show and was sad that the reason he left the show, to do a Gaye biopic, never got off the ground.

As far as the family, I've said on this site before, no one wants to see a whitewashed version of a celebrity. Tell as an accurate story as you can to the person's real life.


Thank you! I suppose there is a god, after all. But seriously, this is the right move, in every way. I'm proud of Jesse L. Martin and can't wait to see him as Marvin.


In a world where so much goes wrong, it's great to see when something finally goes right. I will be supporting this film 100% now!


But waaah, the kids don't approve of the project! Come on in with the 80-plus outraged comments…or does approval only matter when it's Zoe Saldana? In all seriousness, the approval of a subject's kids doesn't really effect me, but the disapproval of their friends & peers does. I'm wondering if Gordy's opposition is self-serving or if there is merit to it.


glad a black man is playing marvin hopefully they will take note and have an ACTUAL black woman play a black womman in biopics but i aint holding my breath!

Erik W


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