So Boseman's played two sports greats while acting opposite the likes of Costner and, in "42," Harrison Ford -- where do you go from there? How about playing James Brown in the upcoming "Get on Up" or the Egyptian god of wisdom, Thoth, in 2016's "Gods of Egypt"? If you need a legend -- a real one or otherwise -- it looks like Boseman is the guy to call.
The man himself -- born in South Carolina, educated at Oxford -- couldn't be more laid back, humble, and easygoing when Moviefone caught up with him in Los Angeles.
Moviefone: You portrayed a football player three films ago, in "The Express."
Chadwick Boseman: Yeah, yeah. I played Floyd Little. Another real person.
So you played a real football player, then a real baseball figure, then back to football as a fictional character. Coincidence?
That's just coincidence, yeah. This one ["Draft Day"], I initially was like, No, I don't want to do it because it was a sports movie, and I hadn't even read the whole film yet. I think they sent me a description of it and it was like an immediate "no." And then I had a conversation with Ivan Reitman -- I think we had two conversations. And on the second one he changed my mind. Because it's not really about [sports]. It's not like we're watching some big game occur, or it's in the locker room. You do see some of that but it's not what the movie's about. It's about behind-the-scenes and dreams and hopes. And that to me was a total departure from the other two movies.
Did you talk to any real NFL players for this?
Well, the Browns were involved so we had the players around us all the time. It wasn't research as much as it was just hanging out with them, playing Xbox or just chilling with them or going out with them. Just hanging out with them seeing what they're like. That's all you really have to do, I think. I didn't talk to anybody about what their draft experience was. That wasn't part of the research. And, for me, it was better to do it that way because my character's not at Radio City Music Hall, you know, he's at home. I've always thought about that guy that's at home. That's the guy that interests me like when you watch the draft.
So you were a football fan before doing this?
Oh yeah, yeah.
What's harder to train for, baseball or football?
In this case, I trained to gain the weight. I did do some of the football plays, but I trained to gain the weight and just happened to end up doing these football scenes. The baseball was much more intense and extensive. You know, I'm sure that if I was training to do the football scenes it would be just as difficult, if not even more so than baseball.
I spent months, literally, taking grounders, all sorts of fielding, the difference between second and first base, which was weird because you rarely even saw Robinson at second base. A lot of that stuff was cut out of the movie because the baseball sequences made the movie so much longer. But we did all that. It was like real practice and all the actors that were in the movie had practice at some point. It was like we were players, you know... you can't compare that to this.
You went from working with one legendary actor, Harrison Ford, to working with another one, Kevin Costner -- except almost all your scenes with Costner are on the phone.
It's all on the phone except for the party at the end... it's funny because I was doing press for "42" -- I think I was at "Access Hollywood" -- and I was backstage and I was talking to a friend of [Costner's] while they had just offered me "Draft Day" and I had been saying no. And I was like, the only way I would do it was if I was actually on the phone with Kevin -- I'm not gonna do it if I'm not actually on the phone with him. And then his response got back to me that of course he would do the scenes on the phone with me.
So, you guys were really talking?
We were really talking to each other. Yeah, even though my side of those scenes was shot on different days than his, I came in for his footage and he came in for mine. He came in really early actually. He came in at like 5 to 6 a.m. in the morning, which shows you what kind of guy he is. Because a lot of people would be like, "No, I'm not getting up that early. He can read it with the script supervisor or somebody." No, he came in and lived up to his end of the bargain.
Your next two roles are the Godfather of Soul, then a god of ancient Egypt.
Good Lord. The Godfather of Soul, I mean that's... I can't even put it into words. We had a lot of fun doing it. It was just a huge challenge. I didn't even want to talk to people a lot of times while I was doing it, like my family members and friends and stuff, because you had to be so into it during the course of the day. I didn't want to handle business because I would be handling it like James Brown as opposed to what I really thought. So it was a very intense and rewarding process, unlike anything I've ever done.
The God of Wisdom, you know, the jury's still out. I haven't really even started it. But the character is again a total departure from anything else that I've been doing or have done recently and that's what's appealing about it, is that it's a whole different type of world. It's gonna be epic. It's gonna be like a lot of action -- although, you know, my character doesn't have to do as much because he can kill you with his mind.
I guess it would be hard to train for that.
Yeah, I don't have to have the swing a sword or a staff or anything like that. But there's still some physicality to it. It's just totally different than anything else you've seen me do.
"Draft Day" hits theaters April 11. Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for CinemaCon.