Sign in to follow this  

Rachel Robinson feels relieved and excited after watching Jackie Robinson biopic ‘42’

Recommended Posts



When the lights in the movie theater were dimmed and the actors portraying her and her late husband, Hall of Fame Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson, flashed on the screen before her eyes for the first time, Rachel Robinson says that she experienced only one powerful emotion watching “42,†while being transported back 66 years to a history-defining moment: “relief.â€

“You never know how something’s going to turn out. We waited so long to have this film done. It is so important to me, and to our family and to our foundation and to everybody who cares about Jack, that I wasn’t sure what they could do with the period they had chosen,†says Rachel Robinson. “But I think they did a marvelous job with that period. As soon as I sat down and watched it, I was relieved. And excited.â€

The “we†refers to Rachel and her two children, Sharon and David, and how the Robinson family met with or talked to many film suitors over three decades, each individual or group wanting to bring the baseball life of Jackie Robinson — and the seminal moment when he broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball by stepping on the diamond at Ebbets Field, April 15, 1947 — to the silver screen.


The “they†Rachel Robinson mentions is the film-making group of Thomas Tull, CEO of Legendary Pictures (which produced “42â€) and the film’s writer/director Brian Helgeland. Rachel Robinson says she was “impressed†with Tull’s presentation of the film project to her and with Helgeland’s script treatment, although she says she did “respond in a lot of detail†with suggestions for improving the script, “because I wanted to be sure they had an authentic picture.â€

With the release of “42†this week, the Robinson family, particularly 90-year-old Rachel, has achieved a life-long goal. “One of the problems over the 30 years that I’ve been trying to get this done is not everybody comes that well prepared,†says Rachel.

Plenty of other big names stepped up to the plate for the opportunity to helm a Jackie Robinson film, says Sharon Robinson, including Brooklyn’s own, Spike Lee and Oscar-winning director and acting legend Robert Redford.


“They explained to me why they wanted two young actors to play Rachel and Jack, because they wanted them to be Rachel and Jack. It’s different than when you have a well-known actor playing that part – it’s still about that actor and not about the person he’s playing necessarily,†says Rachel. She adds that she met numerous times with actors Chadwick Boseman and Nicole Beharie, and was impressed by how much homework each actor had done in advance of playing the iconic roles.

“One of the things I liked about them is that they came to see me well-prepared. They had read a lot and could even refer to what they read, and ask questions about what they read, so they would know what I thought about the notions they were gathering from reading, whether I thought they were correct or not, and if I could add to them,†says Rachel. “They were very interested in having me add interesting stories and material so that they could get a fuller understanding of our love, our relationship, our family, our partnership, and the experiences we had.â€

Of Boseman, Rachel says that she saw a mirror image of her husband as she got to know the young actor and discovered that he shared many of the same characteristics as the Brooklyn Dodgers star.


“As it turns out, things happen when they’re supposed to happen. This was the right team,†says Sharon Robinson, 63, of Tull and Helgeland. Sharon, an author of several books, is also an educational consultant for MLB. “It’s one of the strongest scripts I’ve read. It’s got key moments. It’s a compelling story about relationships.â€

One of the film’s central relationships is the one between Rachel and Jackie, and Rachel says she felt it was important that the film’s producers and director eventually cast actors in those two roles who weren’t mainstream stars, like Harrison Ford, who plays legendary Brooklyn Dodgers president and GM, Branch Rickey.

Read more:


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this