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Producers Of Nina Simone Biopic Chasing Dr Dre To Compose Score + Other New Revelations

Producers Of Nina Simone Biopic Chasing Dr Dre To Compose Score + Other New Revelations

It looks like the producers of Zoe Saldana’s Nina Simone biopic have begun marketing efforts for the film, which suggests that we might be getting our first look at it soon, and a release date will be set.

In an interview with The Grio, published yesterday, director Cynthia Mort and executive producer Gene Kirkwood (maybe the first one in many months), plenty is discussed, and you’re encouraged to read the full piece yourselves.

The most interesting item to me in the entire piece is the revelation by Kirkwood that he’s chasing Dr Dre to compose the film’s score. A bit of a head-scratcher, but Dre does have skills as a music producer. He just wouldn’t have been the first name I would’ve thought of to score a film about Nina Simone’s life.

“If we can get Dr. Dre involved, it could be very modern arrangements” that make up the score for Nina, Kirkwood said. “He’s going to see a rough cut in about a week and a half. I would love for him to do what Quincy did with In the Heat of the Night and [what] Quincy did with In Cold Blood. Quincy did a lot of scoring. I would love if Dre’s next step would be to score it. That would be a great challenge.”

This news makes me even more curious to know what the filmmakers are aiming for with the film, in terms of style and structure. We’ll just have to wait and see. 

Maybe Kirkwood and company have been inspired by what Baz Luhrmann did with The Great Gatsby.

Other interesting revelations…

Regarding director Mort’s focus in the film, she wasn’t interested in a conventional biopic that tackled Nina’s entire life. Mort’s aim all along has been to focus on Nina’s love life specifically.

“I like a lot of things that [the film] says about being an artist, about being a woman, about that brilliance, about love,” Mort mused. “It’s clearly not a biopic as much as I think Nina Simone is amazing… I liked her life. I liked what she stood for. I liked that she’s uncompromising… I was taking on something else that I felt was universal to everybody. That doesn’t take anything away from who she is or who she was.

Although the piece does add:

There will be a focus on Simone’s mental and emotional struggles. “Nina was bipolar,” Kirkwood continued. “She was kind of out there, and it’s about this relationship with this male nurse she picked up at Cedars, and he didn’t know what he was getting into.”

The male nurse referenced is of course Clifton Henderson (the character David Oyelowo plays in the film). You’ll recall Nina Simone’s daughter’s rejection of the film, and specifically the love story between Simone and Henderson that it will tell, saying that Henderson was gay, and thus, Nina and Clifton never had a relationship other than a business one, even though the film project implies otherwise.

About why Zoe Saldana was “the right choice” for the part, here’s what the piece states:

Mort understands why the color issue is vital, but does not see herself as the spokesperson for that angle of Nina’a story. “So, I don’t want to minimize at all the places Nina holds for many women – women of color, all women, all people, all minorities. But you go with whom you think can best do the performance the role requires.”

When asked what he’d like audiences who see the film to take away from it, exec producer Kirkwood replied:

“I want them to come out wrecked in a good way… That’s how I always saw it, that was my drive. From now on when you hear Nina’s music, you’ll really listen to it.”

And finally, Kirkwood actually welcomes all the controversy that the project has long been at the center of. As he suggests, any publicity is good publicity:

“Every knock is a boost for me […] People don’t like anything. If Jesus Christ walked in here right now, they’d say, ‘Great carpenter, but terrible guy.’ They’ll find something about everything. There’s nothing positive until they see it […] Diana Ross was as close to Billie Holiday as you can get, but when [Lady Sings the Blues] came out, they were worried about that[.] With Rocky they said, ‘Who wants to see a fight movie?’ You had to get them in there. There was only one fight in the whole movie. The picture is eventually going to have to make its own track no matter what. But I think every knock is a boost, as long as they’re talking about it.”

So there you go. 

Check out the entire read HERE.

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