Jamie Foxx will chronicle Marvin Gaye’s triumphant, tragic life story in a planned limited series about the soul icon. The actor is executive producing the project alongside Passe Jones Entertainment’s Suzanne de Passe and Madison Jones, who will shop the series to various linear and digital outlets, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I’ve been a huge fan my whole life. His brilliance in music is unparalleled,” Foxx said in a statement. “Marvin Gaye’s story has always fascinated me.”
Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr., who signed Gaye to the legendary Detroit label in 1961, offered his official blessing to the series: “Marvin was the truest artist I have ever known,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I am confident that this is the right team to bring his story to the audience in an authentic and compelling way.”
At Motown, Gaye found success with his romantic musical persona, partnering with duet partners like Mary Wells and Tammi Terrell. But he explored social issues and sexual subject matter on later LPs, including 1971 masterpiece What’s Going On and 1973’s Let’s Get It On, respectively. After a commercial decline later in the decade, he found a resurgence with 1982’s Midnight Love and hit single “Sexual Healing.” But his story ended tragically in 1984, when he was fatally shot at age 44 by his father in Los Angeles.
While numerous actors, musicians and filmmakers have attempted to produce Gaye biopics over the years, Foxx’s is the first authorized by the late singer’s family. “This project will be a powerful and definitive telling of Marvin Gaye’s life story,” said Gaye’s son, Marvin Gaye III, who will also executive produce the project.
de Passe previously executive produced multiple Motown-related TV specials and movies, including 1983’s Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever and 1998’s Motown 40: The Music Is Forever. She and Jones are in discussions with Sony/ATV, which holds the rights to Gaye’s music, to establish which of his songs can be used.
Jones described the upcoming series as a “labor of love for three decades.”
Before dropping out of the project in 2013, Lenny Kravitz was attached to star in Julien Temple’s long-in-the-works film Sexual Healing. He was replaced by actor Jesse L. Martin, who himself was previously attached to play Gaye in an earlier version of the movie produced by James Gandolifini.
In 2008, Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray reportedly planned work on Marvin, his own project about Gaye’s life. “All the things he talked about in his albums and what is going on is relevant now,” he told TMZ in 2015. “He was ahead of his time. His story is somewhat Shakespearean.”