On Feb. 25, 1964, Civil Rights icon Malcolm X, pro football Hall of Famer Jim Brown, singer Sam Cooke, and boxing legend Muhammad Ali spent an infamous night in a Miami motel room just simply talking. In Regina King’s directorial debut, “One Night in Miami,” the film follows four icons after Ali, who was still known as Cassius Clay, beat Sonny Liston. The quartet met in Malcolm X’s room to discuss life, civil rights, its impact, religion, and the Nation of Islam, especially since Ali was on the verge on converting.
One might think this is just a conversation amongst friendly celebrity buddies, but in a screenplay composed by Kemp Powers, we find out that this particular night is a turning point for all four men.
In a recent discussion facilitated by Amazon Studios, I told the “One Night in Miami” leading actors that they are “four beautiful, talented Black men portraying four beautiful, talented Black men.”
All four actors, Leslie Odom Jr. (Cooke), Kingsley Ben-Adir (Malcolm X), Eli Goree (Ali), and Aldis Hodge (Brown), blushed in the compliment.
But it is true. It is difficult to play a non-fictional character, especially for Hodge, who played Jim Brown, the film’s only living historical figure. Hodge admits that he was nervous, but he’s already hearing great reviews from Jim Brown about “One Night in Miami.”
Odom, Ben-Adir, Goree and Hodge are an ensemble of strength and flair. It was a pleasure to witness so many phenoms at work simultaneously. Without hesitation, I have never seen four Black men in a historical context playing their hearts out. In movies such as “Selma,” “42,” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” there’s a focus on one or two historical figures.
In “One Night in Miami,” there were four, and every man shined just as bright as the next.
Read more at the New Pittsburgh Courier, Four beautiful, talented Black men portray four beautiful, talented Black men in ‘One Night in Miami’