I love Nina Simone’s voice. It is the textbook definition of sultry and soulful. It amazes me that Hollywood has taken this long to do a “proper” treatment about her life story, but it’s finally happening. The as-yet untitled biopic of Simone has actually been in development for quite some time now. Previously R&B singer Mary J. Blige was set to play her, but she’s since dropped out of the lead role, though not necessarily the film altogether. Actor David Oyelowo (“Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes”) is still attached. The film already has a screenplay by Cynthia Mort (“The Brave One”), based on Simone’s 1992 autobiography “I Put A Spell On You”. Sounds like a pretty good combination of talents so far.
And today, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Zoe Saldana has signed on to play Simone. While the quality of Saldana’s singing is still a question mark, she is a solid actress and this might be the showcase she needs to take her career to the next level.
Here is a brief rundown of Simone’s life, as explained by Empire: “Born in North Carolina in 1933, Simone initially planned a career as a classical pianist, but was denied a scholarship to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute Of Music because of her colour. Drifting into performing in bars she built a loyal following and began to have recorded successes, and she became a prominent member of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, including its message on visceral tracks like Mississippi Goddam, Old Jim Crow and her cover of Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit.
She stopped paying tax in the US as a protest against the Vietnam War, which made her an exile from the States in later life. To avoid arrest, she settled in Barbados for some time – she had a long relationship with its Prime Minister Errol Barrow – before moving on to Liberia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and finally the South of France. She died in Bouches-du-Rhone in 2003.”
No other casting or production details were announced. More details as we get em…