Chadwick Boseman is channeling the legacy of Jackie Robinson by portraying the baseball legend, the first African-American to play in the major leagues, in the new movie "42." The actor sat down with HuffPost Live on Monday to discuss Robinson's influence and what he had to do to prepare for the role.
Boseman likened himself to a private investigator when preparing for a meaty role like this one, absorbing "every little thing you can possibly find to get the essence and the spirit of the person." Boseman said he read biographies and viewed footage of Robinson in an effort to prepare for the role, which marks his first major big-screen appearance.
"Nobody can say they had a greater competitive spirit, and it took somebody who had that fire in order to get through this," the actor said, referring to Robinson and the intense racism he had to overcome in order to excel. "He's found diffferent ways and different secenarios to maneuver and use that spirit or raise the level of play of his teammates and everyone around him. So that's what's amazing about him is that, you know, everyone feels that passion for him."
Not everyone affiliated with "42" has held such lifelong affinities with Robinson, though. Former major-league player C.J. Nitkowski, who portrays Phillies pitcher Dutch Leonard in the film, writes in an essay published by The Associated Press that he spent much of his childhood viewing Robinson as a historical figure rather than a personal hero, despite the general notion that the Brooklyn Dodgers player was a groundbreaker.
Nitkowski acknowledged that his experience filming "42" gave way to a newfound appreciation for the baseball great.
"The 70-year anniversary of Jackie breaking the color barrier is not that far away," he writes. "Few remain who witnessed his debut and soon they will be gone. But I now feel I know who Jackie Robinson really was and what 1947 was really like for him."
Click here to read Nitkowski's full piece.