Yasiin Bey To Star In Thelonious Monk Biopic, Estate Says It’s Unauthorized
Yasiin Bey was a successful child actor long before he found rap stardom. For a little while in the ’00s, it looked like the man then known as Mos Def might become a full-on movie star, as well. Instead, Bey stepped away from public life, and he’s only now starting to reemerge. Bey recently did a podcast with Dave Chappelle and his old rap partner Talib Kweli, and he and Kweli also shared a new Black Star song. Today, Rolling Stone reports that Bey will return to the screen in a forthcoming biopic about the jazz great Thelonious Monk.
Bey will play the title role in Thelonious, a new film written by the first-time screenwriter and producer Peter Lord Morgan, previously a songwriter who penned #1 hits for Paula Abdul. Lord Moreland and Alberto Marzan’s production company Jupiter Rising Film is set to go into production on Thelonious next summer. Bey hasn’t had a film role since his brief cameo in the 2016 French drama Tour De France.
In a statement that seems fully in character, Bey tells Rolling Stone, “A leader.A Lord.A shape in space.A man from a community of devotion who lives a simple life distant from society.The adjectives.can never be nouns.Love.is a verb.The Future has already happened.And Forever.is a current event.Jupiter and team.”
Talking to Rolling Stone, Lord Moreland explains why he cast 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.”
We don’t yet know who will direct Thelonious or who else will star in the film.
UPDATE: T.S. Monk, Thelonious Monk’s son and the chairman and co-founder of his estate’s official Rhythm-A-Ning Entertainment company, tells Pitchfork that the film is not authorized by Monk’s estate. “This project and its announcement are totally unauthorized! I hate the script and I control the music in Thelonious’ catalog,” Monk says. “There is no involvement by anyone in the Monk family with this project, and we actually condemn the effort.”
UPDATE 2: Yasiin Bey has dropped out of the project.