According to Zoe she was ecstatic to hear that Mary J. Blige would be playing Nina Simone but when the singer turned down the role and it was offered to her, she had some trepidation for “obvious reasons.”
Zoe Saldana: The first time I heard about the Nina Simone project, I was at a fashion show in Paris and Mary J. Blige was there as a performer, and as soon as she got onstage, she announced that she was going to be playing Nina in this biopic.
And I remembered I cried because I was so happy, and I thought, “This is just going to be the best thing ever. I know that I’m going to go see it.” And a year later, I was approached by a filmmaker—you know Cynthia Mort—and she said she wanted to meet me for the Nina movie, and I was really surprised because I thought, well, Mary J.’s doing that, and she was like, “Yes, she was as of recently, but she will not be a part of it, and this was a mutual decision.”
Once that came about and I received confirmation, I turned the project down because for various reasons I thought I was not the right age to be a part of this project because of the time frame … which the director wanted to document or talk about in her story of Nina. And obviously—well, the other obvious reasons—but then something else came about once I kept brewing with this, and I thought, “Well, this project has been at every studio, pitched at every studio. It has been offered to a number of excellent, amazing actresses that, for whatever valid reasons of their own, decided to pass on the project.
Do I sit on the side and wait and sort of, for my personal fears, do I just sit on the side and just pass this project from my hands to the next hands and just wash my hands of it and be done with it? Or do I make the decision to be a part of the telling of the story of an iconic figure in American history that happens to be a woman, that happens to be black?” So I guess the good outweighed the fear and the bad.
“Obvious reasons”, huh???
Zoe also dished on what she hopes people learn from the biopic, hit the flip…