Thirty years after Marvin Gaye's death, the race to complete his biopic seems hotter than ever. No fewer than three actors — Lenny Kravitz, Jesse L. Martin and Terrence Howard — have been attached to play the R&B icon, with shooting on one biopic scheduled to begin at the end of the month.
Unless Janis Hunter has her way.
Gaye's ex-wife, who was married to the singer from 1977-1981 and is the mother of his two children, is doing her best to stop the plans for both the film and a stage play set for an Off-Broadway debut on April 11.
"I don't think Marvin is a very happy spirit right now," Hunter tells the New York Daily News. "This is the last thing he would have wanted to happen."
Kravitz bowed out of the biopic, to be directed by British helmer Julien Temple, earlier this month, and was replaced by Jesse L. Martin. "Ultimately, I think it was Lenny’s heart and soul and conscience that caused him to step away," says Hunter of the rocker's decision to leave the project. "Hopefully, that touches Jesse in the same way."
As for the play, based on Gaye's sister Zeola Gaye's biography of her famous brother, the show is still scheduled to go on. "I haven't read the script, but [the book] was very difficult to read," says Hunter of Zeola's memoir. "Some of the characterizations, like saying Marvin’s father killing him was a ‘mercy killing,’ you can only imagine how that makes the kids feel," she says, referring to her and Marvin’s two adult children, both in their thirties. "It makes me feel bad enough."
Hunter admits Gaye's later years were dark, and that she has no desire to relive them. "It wasn’t always the greatest, but it was tough times for him and for everyone," she says.
Terrence Howard revealed last month that he too was slated to play Gaye in a pair of projects, but didn't specify which ones. No word on if Hunter's disapproval managed to squash any of these projects.
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