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Choctaw native to star in Robinson biopic

BY BRANDY MCDONNELL Entertainment Writer bmcdonnell@opubco.com   Modified: May 3, 2012 at 9:24 am •  Published: May 3, 2012
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Ch
adwick Boseman, who appeared as running back Floyd “The Franchise” Little in the period football biopic “The Express,” will play Robinson.

Writer-director Brian Helgeland, whose credits include “A Knight’s Tale,” “Payback” and the Oscarwinning screenplay for “L.A. Confidential,” has penned and is helming the project for Legendary Pictures.

“Brian Helgeland ... is an amazing writer/director. And of course, Legendary Pics they just did ‘Batman (Begins’ and its super-sequel ‘The Dark Knight’) and ‘The Hangover,’” Merriman said.

Merriman will play a significant role. One of the team’s most popular players, Walker opposed Robinson joining the squad, even writing a letter to Rickey asking to be traded. Walker ultimately came to respect Robinson, calling him “a gentleman” and “as outstanding an athlete as I ever saw.”

“He was kind of the main bigot almost when it came to African-Americans being introduced into baseball. His reason came more from the upbringing in those times. He owned a hardware store, and he knew that that would affect his business. ... But you know, Jackie did amazing things with how people treated him and what he had to go through,” Merriman said of his character.

Merriman found his years of baseball experience invaluable to winning a place on the “42” roster. He started with T-ball as a boy, made the Choctaw High School baseball team and still plays with a recreational softball team in Los Angeles.

“I went through four different auditions for four different characters, and I came back in the fifth time for Dixie. And then on top of that they had baseball tryouts, and there were 20 guys and five of ’em made the cut. It was definitely a blessing from the man upstairs. It’s a big one, and hopefully I’ll knock it out of the park,” he said with a laugh.