Watch 5 essential films made by black filmmakers
(Credit: Athena LeTrelle)

Spike Lee reveals script for unmade Jackie Robinson film starring Denzel Washington

Spike Lee has been digging through his archives and revealed an old script for an unmade Jackie Robinson film, which could have gone on to star Denzel Washington.

Jackie Robinson, an iconic sportsman, became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947—a moment in history which started the end of racial segregation in professional baseball.

Director Lee, whose films famously tackle themes of race relations, had planned to tell Robinson’s story as part of a biopic for the big screen. After working on a script, completing five drafts and collecting 159 pages, Lee shelved the idea after his lead actor turned him down: “Denzel said he was too old” to play Robinson, he explained.

“We’ve all had a lot of time to think about stuff, our life, what happened, what didn’t happen,” Lee said in a video posted on social media. “And I began to think about one of my dream projects. I wrote a script for Jackie Robinson. I wanted Denzel to play Jackie, but Denzel said he was too old. And I pulled this script out of the vault. And so, I’m gonna share this script with you. And also — don’t worry about if you don’t like baseball, sports. This is a great American story.

“Never got made, but I wanna share this script with you… It’s the fifth draft, 1996… Hope you enjoy it. If you don’t, that’s alright, too.”

Click here to download and read Spike Lee’s 1996 screenplay, here. 

Subscribe to our newsletter
Delivering curated content