Bob Marley: One Love took a huge step forward by having King Richard’s Reinaldo Marcus Green be the biopic’s director. But another great addition to the musical drama is having One Night in Miami’s Kingsley Ben-Adir play the lead role of Bob Marley. If you want to know just how talented the British actor is, he shares that while he was prepping to play one of Jamaica’s greatest musicians, he was also filming as Ken for Barbie.
Kingsley Ben-Adir played one of the Kens in Barbieland alongside Ryan Gosling, Simu Liu, Scott Evans, and Ncuti Gatwa. While Ben-Adir’s Ken was in Greta Gerwig's movie conversing about the brilliance of The Godfather, showing some mad dance moves in two sequences, and on the beach battleground with the other Kens, he told ET he was also in the process of prepping to play Bob Marley in the music biopic Bob Marley: One Love. Here’s what he said:
I just wanted to get going, because I was like, 'I'm on this for three and a half months and I can't waste any time. I have to start now! Especially with the guitar and the language, you know? That's gonna be a slow process and you've got to get the foundational steps in. On film sets, there's a lot of time downtime... it just made sense to go and listen to Bob and try to understand the language and learn the guitar.
It takes an incredibly talented actor to be able to prepare for two roles at once and not have either performance be affected. I also give Kingsley Ben-Adir a lot of credit for his dedication in using his downtime to channel Bob Marley’s guitar playing and language. It reminds me of the similar great lengths that Austin Butler put into playing Elvis when he would listen to Elvis Presley recordings during his free time and study every piece of footage he could find on YouTube about The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. It makes sense as you want to be able to embody the real-life person you’re portraying as accurately as possible.
This wouldn’t be the only time that thea ctorhas played a real-life person. In Ben-Adir's most memorable roles, he played Malcolm X in One Night in Miami where the human rights activist met with three other historical figures in February 1964. The 37-year-old actor also got to play former President Barack Obama in the Showtime original The Comey Rule where we see the months that lead up to the 2016 election. In both of these roles, Ben-Adir clearly did his research in seamlessly bringing these real-life historical figures to life reflecting off their voice and mannerisms without any exaggeration. I have no doubts he’ll do the same thing with Bob Marley.
One of the coolest things to know about Kingsley Ben-Adir that proves he’s the right actor for Bob Marley: One Love was that simultaneous filming in between projects wasn’t his first rodeo. He did the same thing shooting One Night in Miami as well as The Comey Rule. He would travel back and forth from New Orleans to Toronto for both projects and spend two weeks learning everything he could about Malcolm X through videos, articles, and books. It demonstrates that Ben-Adir clearly has a knack for portraying prominent figures and has a foolproof method of how to go about it.
For Kingsley Ben-Adir to be able to prepare for Barbie’s Ken and Bob Marley all at once is truly impressive. I have a feeling that successfully portraying the energy and charisma Bob Marley brought to audiences through The OA star’s biopic will pay off well for him. The 2024 movie release of Bob Marley: One Love hits theaters on February 14th.