When filmmaker Cynthia Mort announced that she was writing and directing a Nina Simone biopic, Nina Simone's own daughter, Simone, pretty much blew a fart at it, because the family was never asked to participate. The Nina Simone Estate didn't put their stamp of approval on Cynthia Mort's movie. Simone and The Nina Simone Estate made it clear that they would rather see a Nina Simone biopic made with LEGOS than see Cynthia Morton's Nina Simone biopic. Then when it was announced that Zoe Saldana was playing Nina Simone, Simone really rolled her eyes into a double side-eye. Simone told Ebony Magazine that when she thinks of actresses who should play her mom, she doesn't think of Zoe Saldana.
"I love Zoe Saldana’s work. I’ve seen some of her movies more than once and really enjoy what she brings to the screen. As an actress I respect her process, but I also know that there are many actresses out there, known or not, who would be great as my mother. The one actress that I’ve had in my heart for a very long time, whose work I’m familiar with already, is Kimberly Elise. Many people have spoken to me about Viola. I love her look. I love her energy. Both of the actresses that I’ve mentioned are women of color, are women with beautiful, luscious lips and wide noses, and who know their craft. I also have no problem introducing someone we’ve never heard of before who can play my mother."
Simone said this back in August and now here's pictures of Zoe as Nina on the Los Angeles set of that mess of a movie this past Friday. Somebody should check on Simone, because she probably just side-eyed so hard that several vessels popped and she might need medical attention. Did they really need to put Zoe in black(er) face and throw a prosthetic nose on her? Even Zoe Saldana is making a face like she knows this was a bad idea. It's the same face I make when a trick I just met on Craigslist opens his apartment door and I realize the picture he sent me was taken 30 years ago. I should've gotten the hint when the picture was a scan of a Polaroid.
A black painted face and prosthetic nose? Miscasting much?
Some of the hate for Cynthia Mort is going way overboard honestly.
A young actress named Nicki Micheaux would have a been a ringer, but she's too dark I suppose. Nina's family on Facebook are asking people to boycott the film, and I probably will. That said, I'm a Nina Simone fanatic - been obsessed since I first heard her when I was 18.
They had some makeup tests of Zoe in full facial prosthetics and they looked awful. That makeup artist walked away because he knew it was going to be a problem. So now they're going for a suggestion rather than a likeness.
Green Gums is a hack. But she keeps on getting work.
I think the main reason to see this movie will be for the music right? I think they've got the rights for that. Zoe's not singing though, right?
This was such a bad idea. I have nothing against Zoe, but why did she say yes to this? Terrible Idea. At least with Ray Charles JAmie Foxx was supremely believeable.
Not to be confused with me, Simone Simon (Cat People!)
Hollywood is prejudiced against dark skinned actresses.
Who will play Art D'Lugoff?
Obviously it would be nice to have rights to songs or performance rights that mightbe essential to the story but I dont think it should be a prerequisite that a family "approves" a bio-flik. It isn't as if filmmakers have been falling all over themselves to do a film on Simone.
There is no absolute necessity that the actor must look just like the subject character. A good actor can pull off a characterization that takes you exactly where the filmmaker wants you to go. I remember all the complaints about Anthony Hopkins playing Nixon. He looked nothing like him. I was certainly around when Nixon was around and I remember him clearly but once Hopkins took on the persona he became Nixon to me in that film. Now maybe Saldana isn;t a good enough actor - I don't know.
How many people remember or even knew what Nina Simone looked like? Of course the audience the film may be geared to will include her fans so it may or may not matter to them. If they can pull off her essence and personality then that's more important than an impersonation.
It will also help if the film doesn't stink.
I have a feeling that this movie is going to wind up coming across like a Mad TV parody.
I hate to say it, but Zoe is too pretty to portray Nina.
I get your point r12, but so much of Simone's work was tied up with the way she comported herself, and a big part of that was how she looked. She was proud of her 'Negro' features (wide nose, thick lips, dark skin) and she rightly pointed out the hypocrisy and meanness of expecting black women to look more caucasian.
So in this case it's kind of outrageous.
There has always been people in outrage when a biopic is filmed. I'll go see this, mostly because I'm pissed at how Mort is being threatened by everyone and because I am willing to judge until it comes out. Pictures taken off set doesnt reflect how it will ultimately look on film with proper lights and editing. Good look green gum.
r 15 has it. Nina wrote songs about her blackness and how beautiful women are taught to hate themselves.
It's a shame. Predictable but shameless nonetheless.
Did she punch herself in the throat so she could ruin her voice enough to sound like the machine-gun-vibratoed, couldn't-hold-a-note, couldn't-hit-a-note songstress we're all supposed to love just because she was a mess and lacked a sense of humor?
I hope not, R13, she deserves better.
But as noted already it's Simone's comportment that makes her physically distinctive and interesting - that wasn't an African characteristic - that was just her as a person probably greatly affected by her bipolar disorder and possibly her medication. A good actor should be able to pull that off. It's not just about facial features.
I'm not sure what periods of her life this film covers but it wasn't until later in life - mid 1960s - that Simone became "Africanized" (for want of a better word) in dress and style. Before that she was the epitome of a sophisticated European styled female.
Part of the point of the civil rights movement was to get over this shit about facial features being important and labeling people. No one cares about this shit as much as certain segments of the AA community and bigoted racists.
[quote]I'll go see this, mostly because I'm pissed at how Mort is being threatened by everyone
Oh really? What kind of threats?
Physical r20. I've been following this whole thing for a few months and I've seen some threats against her. I've heard Mort is a beast but I can't get on board with some of these people.
Oh and a great deal of them are just pissed that a white woman would direct this. Not down with that criticism either.
Thanks R16, but are these just anonymous commenters on the internet? You know how they can be. I'm a wait and see type myself and I know how tough it is to get movies off the ground.
It will be awful. It would have been awful without Saldana.
Maybe Zoe will surprise everyone? Or not. This will all be either one or the other will no in between.
I am linking to Nina Simone live performance just because.
Yeah, I know what you mean. This seems to be a real from the heart work from Mort. Shes been trying to get this off the ground for awhile now. Read that she had Mary J, with funding, but would lose funding if she had no star. I'm sure she's aware of how this looks like to some but I think she did a "this is better then nothing" casting. They probably didn't give her much choice.
This might be her directorial feature debuted. I can't imagine any filmmaker turning down this chance.
The threats have not been anonymous, surprising I know. Most are actually signed in to comment or on twitter with actual accounts.
Run Green Gum!
Well, they could have picked Halle Berry, which would have been much worse.
Okay, who really wants to see a movie starring a pretty girl in facial prosthetics and heavy dark makeup? I'm sure all the straight fanboys will be rushing to the box office to see their girl Zoe!
Seriously, I hate that they chose Saldana and made her up. Actresses with dark skin, African features, and normal bodies have a hard time getting work under the best of circumstances, and one of the few good roles for such a woman has been given to a skinny light-skinned girl.
R14 Your concept of beauty does not match mine. Actually, I find both women "pretty," each in her own way.
We must cease casting keen features, straight hair, thin lips, and a thin body as the default for beauty.
What were the big dramas of Simone's life that will make up the film?
I always cringe when a celebrity has a child or relative that gets too cunty about filmmaking and their legacy. It so often wreaks of money-grabbing and attention seeking, like when Frieda Hughes wrote that stupid fucking poem about Gwyneth Paltrow's Sylvia Plath movie.
Who were the geniuses who conceived, greenlit, and cast this piece of shit?
Normally I would agree that an actor doesn't have to necessarily have the distinguishing physical characteristics of the person they are portraying, but i think it's really important here. So much of Simon's story is about how she was proud to look like what she looked like (dark, broad-nosed, full-lipped, full-figured), even though it didn't meet standard notions of beauty. It's more than simply having a certain "comportment" as another person mentioned, which probably could be captured by a capable actress who didn't look like her. The physical characteristics are part of the story.
So they're turning the life story of Nina Simone into a broad comedy? That's one way to go...
Well, if they cast Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo ...
I was fascinated by her, but when I saw interviews with her she seemed to be like a pastiche of herself. I thought there would be some spirit, but she seemed like a puppet.
Well, I'm not a big fan, really, and think she is highly overrated (too much ego with too little taste and talent - just listen to her "Oh Happy Day" and you'll feel like you've walked into the nuthouse and stumbled on a woman hitting her head against the wall mumbling to herself joylessly - but I really can't see this casting disaster working.
I do like her "Balm in Gilead." But her voice was just not there, usually.
Wasn't Nina Simone the replacement Catwoman on 'Batman'? She didn't look THAT bad, but the network killed the sexual rapport with Batman just because the actress was black. This aspect will probably be a major part of the movie.
"This aspect will probably be a major part of the movie."
I'm sure there will be fiction a-plenty in the movie. Simone as Catwoman won't be one of them.
This breaks my heart, Nina was one of the greatest talents of the last century. ...she deserves so much more.
Seems to me that Kimberly Elise doesn't exactly fit the bill either.
Viola Davis is a great actress but probably too old for the part. I know everyone here hates Jennifer Hudson but I think she would be very good.
What did she do, r39? I gather she was a singer who had broader features than Diana Ross, but so did Aretha Franklin and I've heard of her music. I tried to understand her appeal by reading wikipedia, but her story seems mostly about how she shacked up with men throughout the Carribean in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
Jennifer Hudson wouldn't be right either since she's now model thin. Fantasia though would be ideal.
Related to the current political discussion: I recently saw a clip of Nina on Sesame Street in the 70s. She was sitting on a door stoop, surround by around 4-5 black children. She serenaded them with "Young, Gifted, and Black." It was great, but the whole time I was thinking that if something like this happened today, Fox News would run it as breaking news: Militant Black Power Indoctrination of Children on State Sponsored Television.
[quote] I was fascinated by her, but when I saw interviews with her she seemed to be like a pastiche of herself. I thought there would be some spirit, but she seemed like a puppet.
Probably the effect of her bipolar disorder and/or her meds or lack thereof. It's a familiar affect - I've seen it in clients.
She was very militant during the civil rights struggle. Though she adored Dr. King she did not believe in non-violence as he did.
She was certainly talented but she was also very odd. She had some violent episodes in her life and she was very difficult to work with.
Saldana's makeup look like a bad spray tan. She appears even more cartoonish than she did in Avatar.
Both Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson lack the sophistication that Nina Simone had and would be awful casting choices.
The actress who play Michonne on Walking Dead would be perfect.
A musical interlude. A clip of Lizz Wright, Dianne Reeves and Simone(Nina's daughter) doing a great version of "Four Women." Dianne is seriously sensual.
You should also check out the clip of Ledisi, Marsha Ambrosius, Jill Scott and Kelly Price doing their version of the song too.
Where was the outrage when Michelle Williams played Marilyn Monroe? THey looked SOOO different it was so distracting to pretend this woman was Marilyn Monroe. Zoe Saldana looks more like Marilyn Monroe than Michelle Williams.
Miss J would be perfect casting.
They didn't put darkening make-up and prosthetics on Michelle Williams to make her Marilyn. And I think she had a pretty decent likeness to Monroe, certainly more than Zoe does to Nina Simone. You don't have to look exactly like the historical person you're playing, but it helps if they don't have to change your ethnicity.
The problem here is that most black actresses anywhere near the A-list are usually light skinned. America and/or Hollywood only seems comfortable with black actresses that aren't "too black." They would have had to cast a complete unknown for this role, so instead, they do something only a step-up from putting a white actress in black face to nab Saldana, who is bankable after Avatar and Star Trek.
They could've cast Marianne Jean Baptiste! She's from TV!
CCH Pounder is pretty ethnic looking. Just use her.
Any number of actresses more talented than Zoe Saldana could have been given the Simone role.
Unfortunately for them, Saldana bearded for Bradley Cooper at just the right time in his career and this is her payoff.
Has the movie finished filming yet?
Yes, they had the wrap party last week.
I'mworried she wont be able to convey the new_once of Nina, fewsion of jazz, blues, gospel, with the brilliance of a classically trained piannest, that carries with her all the anger and passion of the pre cival rights era. god i pray she will do my nina justice,
No matter who plays her r63, you nor any of her hardcore fans will be happy anyways. There will always be some fault to be found.
Who is "green gum"?
R62, can you tell us anything else. Was cast and crew more or less happy with how filming went? Thanks.
R65, that's Cynthia Mort. It's an inside joke from an old DL thread in which a DL insider was the first to break the news of Jodie Foster's break up with her partner for Mort.
Inside joke r6. Had to be there to appreciate it.
Zoe Saldana can carry a tune, but has a really thin voice and needs auto-tune.
She, also, has little to no charisma.
Her agent must be top notch to make her as visible as she is.