Kingsley Ben-Adir and James Norton explain how he transformed into Bob Marley for One Love

9 February 2024, 15:32

Kingsley Ben-Adir and James Norton speak to Smooth
Kingsley Ben-Adir and James Norton speak to Smooth. Picture: Smooth/Global

By Tom Eames

Bob Marley is the latest music icon to get the big screen treatment in the long-awaited One Love movie.

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In the new biopic - released on February 14th - Kingsley Ben-Adir stars as the legendary reggae singer, alongside Lashana Lynch as Rita Marley and James Norton as music producer Chris Blackwell.

Ahead of the film's release, Smooth's Angie Greaves caught up with Kingsley and James to find out all about the fascinating stories behind making the movie.

Kingsley opened up about the weight of taking on such an important role, and how he worked closely with Bob's family and estate on the film.

James and Kingsley talk to Angie about Bob's inspiration and how they attempted to realise the late star's "spirit" on set.

"I feel like my process was very unique in the sense that after I auditioned, the family saw the tape that day or the next day, and they were involved from the beginning," said Kingsley.

Bob Marley - One Love – official first trailer

"My process really was getting to learn about Bob on a human level, getting to know what he was like as a person, as a man in his private space, with his family and friends and people. When I say family and friends, I mean people who grew up with Bob in Trenchtown, who knew him from when he was 13, 14, those are the people that I was with.

"Those are the people who were sharing their experience of being with him and their memories of him and telling me. So everything I learned about Bob when I check it now, I didn't know nothing about him. I thought I did, like we all do. We all know Bob, we all know a couple of tunes."

He continued: "You can't copy him. You can't copy Bob. I got stuck on one of his performances at the Rainbow Theatre when I was auditioning. I couldn't stop watching it. When he's singing 'War'. And they upped the tempo that night, I found out. So all of the songs are a little bit faster. So the energy is really like something else."

James added: "He worked so hard and went so deep. So on the first day of rehearsals, we all turn up, and Kingsley gives a speech, and he's like, this is what I think this film is about. It's not about what's on the pages. Let's find this man.

"And then within a few minutes, he's speaking as Kingsley. And then he suddenly seamlessly switches into Bob's voice and starts speaking in patois, but not scripted lines, just riffing, preaching. Like, literally, the man became possessed. And we have Ziggy there in the room with us, who looks like his father.

"And we've got Neville Garrick, who's the art director. And so we have this sort of family and there's friends of Bob around us. And then Kingsley with the work and the commitment of how deep this man went. Honestly, I've never seen an actor do it."

Bob Marley: One Love is released on February 14.