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‘Get On Up’ movie premiere had Natchez seeing stars Saturday night

Chadwick Boseman, center, and Natchez twins Jamarion and Jordan Myles pose for pictures on the red carpet  at the Mississippi Premiere of "Get On Up." Boseman and the brother play the role of James Brown at various points in his life. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)
Chadwick Boseman, center, and Natchez twins Jamarion and Jordan Myles pose for pictures on the red carpet at the Mississippi Premiere of “Get On Up.” Boseman and the brother play the role of James Brown at various points in his life. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Hollywood stars walked the red carpet as Natchez’s own stars settled into seats at the UA Natchez Mall 4 theater for the Mississippi premier of “Get On Up” Saturday night.

The Tate Taylor-helmed James Brown biopic starring Chadwick Boseman as the Godfather of Soul opened to positive reviews in New York City and Augusta, Ga., last week, and Natchez audiences also responded favorably to the production, which was filmed in the area.

Seating in the theater Saturday was limited to those who appeared in the film and those who purchased tickets to a Natchez-Adams County Humane Society fundraiser.

Yvette Hooker was an extra in two scenes in the film, and said she was very pleased with what she saw Saturday.

“The music and the acting has been great, and it was all done right where I grew up,” she said. “I think they did a good thing with this.”

On the red carpet, Boseman said he jumped at the chance to return to Natchez when Taylor first approached him with the idea of a Natchez premier.

“I think it is fitting that we came back here,” he said. “I was really gung-ho about coming back because I think the spirit of Natchez is really in this movie.”

The city functioned as a campus and a set for the film, Boseman said, and the residents welcomed the cast and crew into their homes, fed them and treated them like honored guests.

The movie production crew had a limited budget to work with, but ended with a good product, Boseman said.

“This city helped us achieve it,” he said.

Taylor said returning to Natchez for the premier was taking the movie full circle.

“The cast and the crew just adored the place here, and Natchez is in every single frame,” he said.

Filming couldn’t have been done anywhere else, Taylor said.

“Where else in American do you have a neighborhood that all the houses look like they are in the 1930s?” he said.

During the film, which depicts Brown’s life from childhood until approximately the age of 60 in non-sequential order, Boseman often had to perform in Brown’s signature dance style, and the actor said Taylor initially had to talk him into the role.

“It was an extreme role with a lot of dance and wigs, but I am not a wallflower and we had a great choreographer who helped us with it,” Boseman said.

Those who saw it said they liked Boseman’s performance set against the local backdrop.

Jennifer Vail was an extra in two scenes, and said she signed up to be in the cast because she loves music.

“I didn’t see myself on screen, but that’s OK,” she said. “I am a big movie fan and a big music fan, and I think this has been a great movie.”

The movie will premier in Madison tonight with the governor in attendance, and will open nationwide Aug. 1.