UPDATED 7/22, 8:42 a.m. ET: Yasiin Bey has shared an extended video message in response to the latest news about the Thelonious Monk biopic, which was previously reported to have not been approved by the estate.
“To be clear, I was given every indication by the production company that the family was on board,” he said in a four-minute Instagram video on Thursday. “That was one of my primary questions. … I took them at their word and clearly that wasn’t the case.”
Later in the video, Yasiin said he would be “super excited” if the opportunity arises again to to tell this story “in the right way,” but only with the estate’s approval and full involvement.
“I wanna show love and respect to him and to his family and to his estate and say that I stand with you,” he said Thursday. “And if you’re not with it, then I’m not with it either.”
UPDATED 7/21, 8:55 p.m. ET: The family of Thelonious Monk has condemned the upcoming biopic of the late jazz legend, claiming the movie from Jupiter Rising Film wasn’t approved by Monk’s estate.
“This project and its announcement are totally unauthorized! I hate the script and I control the music in Thelonious’ catalog,” T.S. Monk, Thelonious Monk’s son, wrote in an email to Pitchfork. “There is no involvement by anyone in the Monk family with this project, and we actually condemn the effort.”
T.S. Monk is the chairman/co-founder of Rhythm-A-Ning Entertainment, which runs the Thelonious Monk Estate. Jupiter Rising Film has yet to publicly respond to T.S. Monk’s comments.
See the original story below.
Yasiin Bey will return to the silver screen in a forthcoming biopic about the jazz legend Thelonious Monk. Bey will play the title role in Thelonious, which is slated to start up production in the summer of 2022.
Jupiter Rising Film co-founders Alberto Marzan and Peter Lord Moreland announced Wednesday that Bey has signed on to play the lead role. According to a press release, the film “will center around [Monk’s] struggles for musical success, mental illness and the spiritual love triangle between his wife Nellie and one of the world’s richest women, Nica Rothschild.”
Speaking to Rolling Stone about the film, Moreland explained his thought process behind casting Bey: “Yasiin lives his life with a vibe not easily found in Hollywood, because he’s not Hollywood, point blank. His values and moral compass are intentional and focused on what really matters. Everyone who knows his body of work has seen him boldly transform himself from his music to the Broadway stage, the silver screen and beyond. When he looked at me and said, ‘I am Thelonious,’ I knew we had found him.”
Thelonious will mark Bey’s first appearance on the big screen (as a character other than himself) since 2009’s Next Day Air. After acting in Spike Lee’s 2000 film Bamboozled, Bey went on to star in several movies, including Monster’s Ball (2001), Brown Sugar (2002), The Italian Job (2003), and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005). Prior to portraying Chuck Berry in 2008’s Cadillac Records, Bey also scored Golden Globe nominations for his work in the 2004 movie Something the Lord Made.