Back to IndieWire

The Long-in-Development (7+ Years) Buddy Bolden Biopic Is Finally Nearing Completion

The Long-in-Development (7+ Years) Buddy Bolden Biopic Is Finally Nearing Completion

It’s a project that’s long been in development (at least 7 years) – first with Anthony Mackie attached to star, but he eventually exited, telling us when we interviewed him 2 years ago, while he was on “Pain & Gain” press junket duties: “I’m not sure what’s going on with ‘Bolden.’ It’s been 6 years, so I’ve decided I was finished.”
I can’t blame him for that. But he’s certainly not desperate for work, given how busy he’s been over the years – although that leading man role in a major Hollywood motion picture all his own (something that “Bolden!” may have provided), continues to elude him.

Mackie was eventually replaced last year, by the British actor who played “Downton Abbey’s” first black character, Gary Carr. Later in the year, Yaya DaCosta and Nelsan Ellis were added to the project’s cast, but it still wasn’t clear that production on the film would begin anytime soon, given how long it had been in Limbo – especially when the director of the film, jazz lover, musician and Hyatt hotel heir, Dan Pritzker, said in an interview a couple of years ago, that he was in no rush to complete the film, adding that it was (is) a passion project for him, and his goal is make the best film possible.

“If I were doing this to make money, I wouldn’t have made a movie. I’m not a filmmaker,” he said at the time, adding that, if the film doesn’t make any money, “It won’t affect my life.”
Easy to say when you’re heir to billions of dollars!

This is Pritzker’s third attempt to get the film made. “I’m trying to do something I hope is worthy of the subject,” he said in an interview with Newsweek last year.

In 2007, he did begin filming, with Anthony Mackie, Wendell Pierce and Jackie Earle Haley starring. But, apparently unhappy with the results, he undertook extensive reshoots in 2009, 2 years later. Still unhappy, and, in addition, with on-set conflicts due to him not being able to capture the movie he had in his head, Pritzker put the project aside. And years later, he came back to it with a fresh outlook, and cast Carr as the title character. 

I can only imagine how much money has been poured into this over the years.

But it appears that principal photography is in its final days, which is obviously a good thing for all those involved, and for audiences who’ve been waiting for the film! I received a casting notice for the project, calling for African American men for an asylum scene, that will be filmed in North Carolina. Marty Siu Casting is looking for strong character faces and actors ages 20 to 70.

Check out the details below (I should note that I received this late last week, so it may already be too late):

We need a few AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN who are NEW FACES to our film, to work along with a few who’ve already been selected, in our ASYLUM SCENES. We need strong character faces. This dates back to the late 1800s/early 1900s. We welcome applicants with missing teeth, a lazy eye, scars, wild hair, etc… the more character, the better; ages 20 – 70. These scenes will start this Monday and we will need you for multiple days throughout the next couple of months.

*Pay rate for background actors in BOLDEN, is $112.00 for up to 12 hours of filming; overtime after that.

*Location: Rocky Point, N.C. (about 25 min outside of Wilmington).

*Instructions for submitting:

#1. Create an account on www.makescenes.com, using the activation code, “buddy”. Make sure your picture uploads. If you have trouble, resize your photo to a smaller size, and try again.
#2, email us at: Boldenwilmington@gmail.com, (once your makescenes account is active) with the heading “Asylum Men”.

Apparently shooting actually wrapped last fall, and what they are filming now are pick-ups – some exteriors, club scenes in Preservation Hall, the asylum, etc; and once that’s all done, post-production will begin, as this long journey finally comes to its end.

Alongside Gary Carr, DaCosta and Ellis, ‘Bolden’s’ cast also includes Ian McShane and Michael Rooker, although no word on what roles exactly each of them has signed up to play.

Pritzker said he first heard of Buddy Bolden through a radio station manager back in 1996, and was inspired by his life then and there.

I’d expect this to debut later this year, although, given that director Pritzker isn’t apparently in much of a rush, it could be 2016, or, who knows, 2020! 

But, assuming he does make, as he previously stated, “the best film possible,” this could very well be Gary Carr’s breakout role Stateside, so kudos to him!

This Article is related to: News and tagged