James Brown is the lone Godfather of Soul, and even if he looks a lot like Wesley Snipes in Spike Lee's upcoming biopic, Lee wants to make sure there's one recognizable voice coming through the microphone when the legendary figure appears on-screen.
"We're doing it together – it's going to happen," Lee told MTV News in an exclusive interview at the Sundance Film Festival this week. The Oscar nominated director of "Do the Right Thing" and "Inside Man" lavished praise on Snipes. "He’s my man," Lee said; but when it comes to the vocals on Brown's classic tracks like "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and "Get Up Offa That Thing," expect to hear the authentic voice of James Brown being dubbed in.
"I want to hear James Brown’s voice," the director said. "That’s just my personal taste."
He's not the first filmmaker to take the dubbing route in a musical biopic. Taylor Hackford dubbed Ray Charles' original voice over Jamie Foxx in "Ray."
"I know Joaquin Phoenix in 'Walk the Line,' he did some of the singing," Lee said, breaking down the decision. "I'm a purist," he explained.
Lee and Paramount grabbed Snipes to play Brown in 2007. The project came together shortly after Brown died in 2006 of congested heart failure. Snipes' big-screen energy summoning Brown's near mythological stage presence will obviously carry a hefty punch. You have to feel the demands being place on Snipes, though, just to physically imitate James Brown to the point of syncing with his vocals. That task alone should make "Demolition Man" feel like a jog through through Park City, Utah, by contrast.
Do you think Spike Lee is doing the right thing by dubbing in James Brown's original voice? Do you think Wesley Snipes is a good fit for the part? Speak up and let everyone know in the comments section below!