Kingsley Ben-Adir Reveals the Secrets to Playing Bob Marley In New Movie (Exclusive)

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Kingsley Ben-Adir as Bob Marley in One Love

Bob Marley: One Love is right around the corner, and soon, audiences will be able to experience the iconic musician's life as one of the most famous names in the industry.

The film stars Kingsley Ben-Adir as the titular music icon, alongside Lashana Lynch as Rita Marley, James Norton as Chris Blackwell, Anthony Welsh as Don Taylor, and more.

Kingsley Ben-Adir on Becoming Bob Marley

Kingsley Ben-Adir as Bob Marley in Bob Marley: One Love

While speaking exclusively to The Direct, Bob Marley: One Love star Kingsley Ben-Adir spoke about his time bringing the iconic musician to life.

“The first thing I did is I got a guitar,” shared Ben-Adir, “and I started learning some chords and listening to Bob.”

But it wasn't smooth sailing from there. The actor admitted that “[he] never felt like [he] got it” and that it was always “a process” that “involved Bob’s family:”

“No, no, I never felt like I got it. It was a process that involved Bob's family and learning about Bob. Everything I learned about him was with his friends and with his family.”

He had nothing but praise for working with Bob Marley’s family and friends, calling them “amazing” and the whole experience “very special.”

Kingsley Ben-Adir as Bob Marley in Bob Marley: One Love

Another key element of portraying Bob Marley on-screen was getting the Jamaican language and accent right, something that they “had seven or eight or nine” different “specialists and linguists” to help get right:

“The Jamaican Patois, for me, is a language. And we had to have a lot of people around. Specialists and linguists and Jamaican dialect coaches and normally there's one, but we had seven or eight or nine, sometimes, people who were working on it.”

While the movie focuses on Marley’s life, there’s a lot of ground to cover, so not everything could be included. In particular, a performance of “Lively Up Yourself" had to be removed from the film:

“Yeah, we shot a bunch of music that didn't make the cut. You know, there was a performance of “Lively Up Yourself” that we spent a lot of time working on that didn't make the cut. But that's just filmmaking, you often shoot for hours, and they gotta get down to two. So you're always gonna lose stuff. It's just sort of part of it. You get used to it.”

When it comes to some of the actor's favorite songs of Marley’s, he specifically pointed to the musician’s unreleased tracks while mentioning that he was able to “listen to Bob sort of composing songs and singing in his room:”

“Well, there are some songs that Bob [Marley] never released; ‘Jailbreaker,’ ‘Jump Dem.’ And that’s some of my favorite songs. His unreleased songs. There’s a lot of recordings that I got… I listen to Bob sort of composing songs and singing in his room, that I don’t think many people would have heard. And I fell in love with those songs.”

The entire interview can be viewed below:

Bob Marley: One Love hits theaters on Wednesday, February 14.

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.