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Marvin Gaye biopic in the works, with Dr Dre producing

By | Published on Tuesday 22 June 2021

Marvin Gaye

A new Marvin Gaye biopic is on the way, a script by poet and playwright Marcus Gardley having been snapped up by Warner Bros. The project will be brought to the screen by ‘Menace II Society’ director Allen Hughes, with Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine also on board as producers.

“This is so personal for me”, Hughes tells Deadline. “When I made my first film with my brother, we were fortunate to get ‘What’s Going On’ into the trailer for ‘Menace II Society’, and it was a game changer in elevating the marketing of that film. Every film of mine, but the period film *’*From Hell’, had some Marvin Gaye in it, and I’ve just always connected to him. He’s the artist’s artist, with this ethereal voice that just comes out of the heavens”.

Commenting on the number of failed attempts to make a Marvin Gaye film over the years, Hughes adds: “You’ve heard of all these big-name directors that have tried for 35 years to consolidate these rights”. This project began its more successful journey, he says, “with Dre, saying, ‘let’s do this together’, and then Jimmy came on, and [third producer] Andrew Lazar, and we worked with the estate, with Motown, and some other things that needed to be tied down, and we got it done”.

There’s no word on who will play the lead yet, but the director says that whoever gets the role will not have to deal too much with the stress of trying to sing exactly like Gaye. “Marvin’s voice is so singular that 90% of it has to be the real guy”, he says. “But hopefully we can find an actor who can tie it up with ligamental scenes, and live stuff where you do a blend. Mostly I want to honour that singular voice, and I don’t want to mimic it”.

Having Dr Dre on board has apparently already been useful, with his knowledge as a music producer rather than a film producer helping the team work out how to build Gaye’s original vocal recordings into the film. “There are techniques I’ve been exploring audio-wise in live performance and recording in the studio”, says Hughes. “I’ve taken all those multi-tracks apart with Dr Dre and it has revealed a lot, but we don’t want to play any tricks with what is probably the purest voice of all time”.

Maybe they should just get Pharrell Williams in to help with all that, given his unique knowledge of the Marvin Gaye ‘vibe’. Although, with the Gaye estate officially involved with the project, perhaps not.

The film is currently pencilled in for release in 2023.