Back to IndieWire

Rohan Marley Says No Actor Can Play Bob Marley In A Movie… Except His Sons

Rohan Marley Says No Actor Can Play Bob Marley In A Movie... Except His Sons

The long struggle to get a Bob Marley film made has been well documented on Shadow And Act (I recommend reading this post for the details: What we have ended up with after all that is Kevin Macdonald’s documentary MARLEY, which will world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival this month.

The film which they’re calling the definitive film on Marley’s life was made in full cooperation with the Marley family and ahead of its Berlin premiere screening, Rohan Marley, one of the reggae legend’s 11 children, said during a news conference in Berlin that any fiction feature film made about his father will be “uncastable” because no actor he can think of has the ability to embody his father.

Except his sons.

He said: “My father was not just a man, but a spirit dancer. You have to come with that vibration and it is not something you can act. In Jamaica, when you are a light skin, you are the outcast. To play my father, his struggles and how he overcame it all, would require you to bring tears to my eyes. It has to be one of his sons. And we’re not, none of us, in Hollywood.

And Kevin Macdonald added his own $.02 saying that “not even the great Will Smith would find it an easy task.

No offense to Will Smith but I wouldn’t put the wors “great” and Will Smith” in the same sentence. I don’t think even Will Smith would. I’m talking about his acting only which is what I think Macdonald was refering to. And I definitely cannot see Will Smith as Bob Marley anyway.

But I found Rohan Marley’s comments interesting. I wasn’t there so I don’t know if he said those things sarcastically or if he was being very serious.

But I will agree to a point that I don’t know if any known black actor working today can really pull off the role convincingly. Can you?

In the posts that documented the struggles to get a film about Bob Marley made, there’s mention that at one time back in the late 1990s, Rohan Marley was going to star as Bob Marley in a film on the father’s life, and Lauryn Hill was to play Rita Marley. That never materialized. And then in 2006 Jamie Foxx, which I find mindblowing, was to star as Bob Marley in another project that never went anywhere. And since then there have been other projects that got buried but each didn’t have casting announced so we won’t know who was being considered for those.

I will say that I’m glad the Jamie Foxx film never took off because I can’t see him in the role, no disrespect. 

But what do you think? Do you think only Marley’s sons are capable of playing their father in a movie or is Rohan Marley wrong? Who would you cast?

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: News and tagged

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox