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Kingsley Ben-Adir found singing for the Bob Marley movie 'terrifying'

Bob Marley: One Love premieres on Wednesday, 14 February

Watch: Kingsley Ben-Adir discusses singing like Bob Marley

Kingsley Ben-Adir found it "terrifying" to sing for the Bob Marley: One Love biopic, he tells Yahoo UK, because of the pressure of living up to his real-life counterpart's legacy.

The actor portrays the singer during a specific time in his life, from the assassination attempt on him in December 1976 to how the experience informed his 1977 masterpiece Exodus. Throughout the film Ben-Adir embodies Marley, with several scenes relying on him singing and performing as the late musician would have done.

Ultimately Marley's voice is used in the film, the actor confirms, but Ben-Adir found the process of singing like him "terrifying" all the same, he explains: "You can't mime Bob, so I knew that Bob's voice was always going to be in the film but I wanted to sing on set just to get the feeling and the emotion.

"So everyone was forced to listen to me, for four months and sometimes I'd lose my voice because I don't have the technique necessarily. But Bob was also singing from somewhere, he's so beautiful to listen to because his voice did have a roughness to it.

"Bob's [voice is] so beautiful and moving, what's so magnetic about him is that he's singing from somewhere deep, he's trying to connect to something really powerful."Kingsley Ben-Adir

"So that's what's so spellbinding about him is that he's singing for his life in a way, every time he steps up there's no half [measures]. Bob never did a half hearted show, every show was full energy, full connection. I really enjoyed the musical side of it."

Kingsley Ben-Adir stars in Bob Marley: One Love, in cinemas 2024. (Paramount)
Kingsley Ben-Adir found the process of singing like Bob Marley in the biopic 'terrifying'. (Paramount)

Ben-Adir added that he found it "great fun" to learn to sing like Marley and also convey the dance moves and mannerisms that he had onstage, but bringing the stage persona to life in film wasn't without its challenges.

"I think the the the musical side of things felt really dangerous and exciting, I was like 'I don't know any of this, I'm learning it all for the first time,'" the actor admits. "It was about not trying to be perfect. I'm not trying to copy Bob, not trying to mimic him. You can't copy Bob.

"It's about understanding the psychology and why he moves the way he does, and then you have to find your own version of that coming from yourself. It was a lot of talking actually, for all of the physical stuff we spend 90% of the time talking things through and watching him, working out how I move and seeing all of the things that [are] different to the way I move and that he moves. We learned I'm very gangly, my arms, and Bob's not that.

"It's a real spiritual thing when he's moving, he's trying to connect to something deeper and higher, and it was really interesting to learn about a new subject."Kingsley Ben-Adir

Bob Marley 1979 Santa Barbara   (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)
Ben-Adir added that he found it "great fun" to learn to sing like Bob Marley (pictured in 1979) and also convey the dance moves, though he was adamant you 'can't copy Bob'. (WireImage)

Lashana Lynch, who plays Marley's widow Rita, also sang for the film as her real-life counterpart was a singer in her own right and recorded alongside her husband. The actor says it was a "glorious" experience being able to sing for the movie, especially given her love of music began long before becoming an actor.

"I sang before I acted, I sang first so it was a pleasure to be able to do this as an artist because I did Matilda and lent my voice to that and that's a musical, whereby that's a different form of communication, whereas this is someone's artistry," Lynch explains.

USA. Lashana Lynch and Kingsley Ben-Adir  in (C)Paramount Pictures new film : Bob Marley: One Love (2024).  Plot: A look at the life of legendary reggae musician Bob Marley.  Ref: LMK106-J10480-240124 Supplied by LMKMEDIA. Editorial Only. Landmark Media is not the copyright owner of these Film or TV stills but provides a service only for recognised Media outlets. pictures@lmkmedia.com
Bob Marley's voice is used in the film, but Kinglsey Ben-Adir performed live throughout production and his co-star Lashana Lynch said she was in awe of him during the process. (Paramount Pictures)

"Where they get to really feel the music and really create in front of you. I think that one of the biggest things in this is seeing that we not only get to hear the music in real time, but we get to see how things are created and when and what was going on with Bob at the time to make the lyrics make sense. So it was a treat for me.

"I was watching Kingsley half the time performing just [thinking] 'wow, wow, wow.' He's great, and so I was a bit of a fan at that point."Lashana Lynch

The film's director Reinaldo Marcus Green says they "were so blessed" with Marley's music that they used in the film because it felt "like it was writing the film in a lot of ways" and it influenced the way in which he approached the story.

USA. Lashana Lynch  in a scene from  (C)Paramount Pictures new film : Bob Marley: One Love (2024). Plot: A look at the life of legendary reggae musician Bob Marley. Ref: LMK110-J10451-170124 Supplied by LMKMEDIA. Editorial Only. Landmark Media is not the copyright owner of these Film or TV stills but provides a service only for recognised Media outlets. pictures@lmkmedia.com
Lashana Lynch, who plays Marley's widow Rita, also sang for the film and the actor says it was a "glorious" experience. (Paramount Pictures)

"We had received this gift and it's like 'okay, let's take it and try to dissect it'," Green says.

"I felt like I had heard Bob Marley's music my whole life and then I realised I almost never heard it, I never took the time to dive deep into the lyrics or understand it in a real way."Reinaldo Marcus Green

"I was just enjoying it and so I think [in] the film, hopefully, it feels organic in the way [it's included]. Because of the timeline we were able to be specific about the songs that we chose and then it was like 'OK, how do we weave this in in a way that feels natural?'

"You never want to feel like you're in a space that you're not, or that music wouldn't actually happen right now. So we wanted that to feel like it was coming out of the scenes and the story that we were telling so that it felt not like an addendum to the story, but part of the fabric of making the film."

"That's how we kind of crafted the music making scenes in the film, to try to make it feel organic," Green goes on. "[We wanted to] make you feel like you were a fly on the wall, just witnessing magic happening as it was unfolding so that it could feel real, and that it was coming from a real place and, again, using the lyrics as a way to guide where where to spot them."

Bob Marley: One Love premieres in cinemas on Wednesday, 14 February.

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Watch the trailer for Bob Marley: One Love