EXCLUSIVE: “You ready for tonight?” Malcom X asks Cassius Clay about his upcoming title bout with the dangerous Sonny Liston at the beginning of Kemp Powers’ screenplay for One Night In Miami. “I been training three years for this fight. I’m as ready as a person can be,” the soon to be Muhammad Ali replies with his well-known bombast.
The directorial debut of Regina King, One Night In Miami is as its title advertises, but is also a tale for our times. Based on Powers’ play of the same name, the film focuses on the real-life post-fight celebration among Clay, Malcolm X, NFL legend Jim Brown and the arioso Sam Cooke in the Florida metropolis on February 25, 1964.
While the conversation, arguments, agreements and laughs from the group comes from Powers’ imagination and research, the occasion itself is a historical fact. The reality is that almost no one thought Clay was going to beat Liston, and so no one organized a victory party. With guards at the door, the mainly booze-free get-together in Malcolm’s room at the Hampton House hotel in segregated Miami was the only invite for the quartet, despite the qualms of Brown and Cooke.
“It was on the page,” Oscar and multiple Emmy winner King said when asked what drew her to the project, which premiered January 15 on Amazon Prime.
“It’s a beautiful story of brotherhood, just a display of Black men expressing themselves healthily in a space that we don’t get the opportunity to see Black men be,” she added of the film, which stars Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcom X, Eli Goree as Clay), Adlis Hodge as Brown and Leslie Odom Jr as Cooke. “We don’t get to see that in cinema that often and here was an opportunity that if I can’t act in it, I can still be a part of it.”
So take a look at what’s on the page in the script below:
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