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'Get On Up': Chadwick Boseman brings the funk

By Breeanna Hare, CNN
updated 8:17 AM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
Don't be mistaken: That really is a blond James Franco. The actor is going for "that Late 90s bleached look," as he explained on <a href='http://instagram.com/p/rj1EEWS9Uc/?modal=true' target='_blank'>Instagram</a>. Could it have anything to do with his work in the <a href='http://variety.com/2014/film/news/zachary-quinto-and-emma-roberts-join-james-francos-michael-exclusive-1201262255/' target='_blank'>2015 drama "Michael,"</a> about former gay activist <a href='http://instagram.com/p/rhQJdES9b6/?modal=true' target='_blank'>Michael </a>Glatze? We'll know in time. For now, see these other transformations for the big screen: Don't be mistaken: That really is a blond James Franco. The actor is going for "that Late 90s bleached look," as he explained on Instagram. Could it have anything to do with his work in the 2015 drama "Michael," about former gay activist Michael Glatze? We'll know in time. For now, see these other transformations for the big screen:
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chadwick Boseman portrays James Brown in the biopic "Get On Up"
  • Critics are praising his performance
  • At first the actor didn't want to take the role
  • At least one critic raises the possibility of an Oscar nod

(CNN) -- Chadwick Boseman has every reason to feel good as "Get On Up" opens in theaters.

Reviews are strong for the Tate Taylor-directed James Brown biopic as a whole, but critics have been particularly pleased with Boseman, who's managed to transform himself into the late Godfather of Soul.

"Whatever else one may fault about 'Get On Up,' one thing that's faultless is its star, Chadwick Boseman, who plays Brown from age 16 to 60 with a dexterity and invention worthy of his subject," praised Variety.

Entertainment Weekly, which thought "Get On Up's" PG-13 take is too sanitized, was quick to add that "the best thing the movie has going for it is Chadwick Boseman's live-wire channeling of Brown."

Such words are likely comforting for Boseman, who, after portraying baseball icon Jackie Robinson in 2013's "42," was hesitant to take on another biopic, let alone one for a man as seminal as James Brown.

Chadwick Boseman on James Brown

"When I first saw the script, I was like, I'm not even going to open it up and read it. There's no way I'm playing James Brown," he told the "Today" show, adding that he knew the work it would take to accurately portray The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.

The CNN 10: Chadwick Boseman, and nine more "Fresh Faces"

"I had to do a lot of soul-searching before I took it on," Boseman admitted to EW. "Because to me, nobody should be playing James Brown."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, director Taylor, who had another summer hit in 2011 with "The Help," spent two months convincing 32-year-old Boseman to take the part.

"I realized that first and foremost, I had to find a brilliant actor," Taylor told THR. "It's easy to gravitate toward the costumes and the dancing, but I just realized that somebody was going to have to play a 63-year-old, and that's what I had him read for. So I just searched for an actor with skill, and Chadwick was the guy."

To a certain extent, telling Brown's story wasn't dissimilar to telling Jackie Robinson's. In both instances, Boseman had to put in hours to effectively portray game-changing talent. Those dance moves you've seen him do in the "Get On Up" trailers? The result of five-hour practice sessions five days a week, not to mention what he put in during his downtime. "I was obsessed with it," Boseman told "Today."

The effort appears to have paid off as "Get On Up" opens Friday, and some are already eyeing Oscar season.

"As much as I hate using the O word seven months before the Academy Awards," said Time magazine critic Richard Corliss, who credited Boseman with "carrying and lifting 'Get On Up' to its most impressive heights," "I'm obliged to predict an aisle seat for Boseman on Oscar night."

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