SC natives star in Jackie Robinson biopic "42

Published: Apr. 13, 2013 at 9:49 PM EDT
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Chadwick Boseman (Source: WYFF)
Chadwick Boseman (Source: WYFF)

GREENVILLE, SC (WYFF) - The lead actor in a bio-pic that opened Friday is from the Upstate, and the woman who plays his wife graduated from a Greenville high school.

Chadwick Boseman, who is from Anderson, plays baseball legend Jackie Robinson in the movie 42, opposite Harrison Ford, who plays Brooklyn Dodger executive Branch Rickey.

Nicole Beharie, who has a starring role as the baseball star's wife, Rachel Robinson, graduated from the Governor's School for the Arts in Greenville in 2003.

Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, where he attended T.L Hanna High School.  Boseman played basketball for T.L. Hanna and attended Howard University after graduating in 1995.

T.L Hanna principal Sheila Hilton was assistant principal when Boseman attended the high school.  She said he was the "all-around" student, who excelled in his activities. Hilton said Boseman was an outstanding speech and debate student, who was also a standout in athletics, particularly basketball.

Hilton said Boseman also performed in Project Challenge plays, and she remembers Boseman as a student who many teachers expected to be very successful. She said he was a natural performer and he was passionate about his work.

He graduated from Howard with a BFA in directing and then attended the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England.  He has been in several movies and has had roles in many television shows over the last several years.

Hilton refers to Boseman now as an example to her current students as proof that you can accomplish so much if you give your all in school.

In 2012, Boseman starred in the independent film The Kill Hole.  While in the process of making that film, he won the lead in 42.

42 tells the story of Rickey signing Robinson to a minor league contract in 1945 to play in the 1946 season, breaking baseball's color barrier.  There was no official rule banning blacks from baseball, only a universally-accepted unwritten rule that, at the time, no Major League Baseball club owners were willing to break.

Robinson agreed with Rickey that no matter how poorly he was treated or what racism he experienced, he would never lose his temper so that the future of blacks in baseball would not be jeopardized.

Robinson went on to win the first MLB Rookie of the Year award, that would eventually be renamed the Jackie Robinson Award in 1987.

While making 42, Boseman told the online magazine "Madame Noire" how much playing Robinson meant to him.

"I'm overwhelmed by it," he said. "It's just a huge responsibility. I wake up every morning, been working and prepping on it, and I'm having the time of my life, playing baseball ... studying footage. It's the opportunity of a lifetime to just do what I love."

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