Bob Marley: One Love | Adapting the life of Bob Marley to the cinema, a huge challenge

(Paris) Forgotten the aborted projects of Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone: Bob Marley arrives on February 14 on the big screen, with one Love, biopic over the period 1976-78, between assassination attempt, legendary album Exodus and discovery of the disease.

“We did the preview screening in Jamaica and people received the film well, phew, because everyone there was like, ‘Don’t mess with Bob!’ », smiles Reinaldo Marcus Green, the director, met in Paris by AFP.

The American previously signed King Richardbased around Richard Williams, father of tennis champions Venus and Serena, pushed to the top by their father.

But the challenge is quite different with a music superstar, who left the reggae sphere to become part of pop culture despite his early death in 1981 at the age of 36, following cancer.

“It’s a huge responsibility, everyone told me ‘run away, don’t touch it’,” describes the filmmaker.

Reinaldo Marcus Green says he is like the child we see trying to escape burning fields in a dreamlike scene in the film. “Like this kid, at some point you have to stop running and face it, it was the time for me, the Marley family was ready to make this film, so why not me? “.

” Intense ! »


James Norton and Kingsley Ben-Adir in a scene from Bob Marley: One Love

Ziggy Marley (son), Rita Marley (widow) and Cedella Marley (daughter) appear in the credits as producers, as does a certain Brad Pitt. Ziggy Marley thus validated the choice of Kingsley Ben-Adir to play his father. The Englishman has already played Malcolm X or Barack Obama, but in less prominent films than this blockbuster.

What state was the actor in during his first interview with Ziggy Marley? “I was intense!” I had to be like that, because that’s how Bob was,” replies the thirty-year-old, also encountered in Paris by AFP.

Paying off strategy: “Kingsley really delivers, he doesn’t try to parody, he’s faithful,” greets the heir to the legend in a video delivered to the press by the production.

For several days, posters of the film with the close-up face of Kingsley Ben-Adir have been displayed in the corridors of the Paris metro, as in other cities around the world. “It’s not my face that I see, but all the love that people have for Bob, even today, who doesn’t know Bob? », bounces back the actor.

Even though the Marley family validated the biopic, one Love – title of a success – avoids a lot of the pitfalls of hagiography. “Bob nice, Bob relaxed, it’s cliché, he was generous, inspiring, but he was not perfect, even if his mission, to transcend the messages of peace and unity in his music, was,” insists the comedian.

“Human side”


Ziggy Marley and Kingsley Ben-Adir during the filming of Bob Marley: One Love

The actor “brings this human side” in the biopic, praises Ziggy Marley. One of the great moments of the film is an explanation of the text between Rita and Bob, with a singer put in his place. Rita Marley, another complex character, deserves her biopic.

one Love is not without its flaws – a little long, pathos in flashbacksborrowed ending – but stands out with a strong chronological window and the credibility of the musical sequences and the painting of showbusiness.

Kingsley Ben-Adir – who learned to sing for the film – mixes his voice with Bob Marley recordings. “And we surrounded Kingsley on screen with real musicians, sometimes even the sons of Marley’s musicians, because only they know how to hold a guitar, how to put it down,” reveals Reinaldo Marcus Green.

The filmmaker showed, just before his death at the end of 2023, a first cut to Neville Garrick, graphic designer of the cover ofExodus, friend of Bob Marley. “He told me “I can leave now”, even though he was a little better at the time…” breathes the filmmaker.


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