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Kingsley Ben-Adir on the 'Community Effort' of Portraying Bob Marley: 'We Had Coaches for Everything'

To play Bob Marley onscreen, Kingsley Ben-Adir “spoke a lot about his vulnerability” with the musician’s family and friends

<p>Karwai Tang/WireImage; Pete Still/Redferns via Getty</p> (Left to right:) Kingsley Ben-Adir on Feb. 18, Bob Marley in 1980

Karwai Tang/WireImage; Pete Still/Redferns via Getty

(Left to right:) Kingsley Ben-Adir on Feb. 18, Bob Marley in 1980

Bringing Bob Marley to the big screen is a daunting endeavor, but Kingsley Ben-Adir was up for the challenge.

The Bob Marley: One Love star, 37, tells PEOPLE that on most major screen projects, “you normally have a coach or two.” For the biopic on the Jamaican music icon (in theaters now), however, “We had coaches everywhere.”

“I was very lucky,” reflects the British actor. “We had coaches for everything. Our language team was seven, eight, nine people. It was a community effort.”


That community included members of the late Marley’s family, “friends and people who knew him,” adds Ben-Adir. “I learned everything I needed to through them and with them.”

Related: Bob Marley's Children: All About the Reggae Legend's Sons and Daughters

The Reinaldo Marcus Green-directed One Love, which according to its official synopsis "celebrates the life and music of an icon who inspired generations through his message of love and unity," was filmed in partnership with the Marley family. Among the movie’s producers are Marley’s widow Rita Marley — portrayed by Lashana Lynch onscreen — daughter Cedella and son Ziggy

<p>Leon Bennett/Getty</p> (Left to right:) Kingsley Ben-Adir and Ziggy Marley on Feb. 6

Leon Bennett/Getty

(Left to right:) Kingsley Ben-Adir and Ziggy Marley on Feb. 6

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Although he’s played real-life figures on the big screen before, including Barack Obama in The Comey Rule and Malcolm X in One Night in Miami, Ben-Adir notes he has “never played an artist… It felt a bit dangerous because I was like, I'm going to be starting from scratch.”

That included learning how to play the guitar, studying the musician’s Jamaican accent and Patois language and more. “It wasn't one thing in particular. It was the many different things altogether at the same time,” he tells PEOPLE of preparing to portray Marley.

“The singing and the learning of the guitar was challenging for sure, but they were all good challenges. They were all fun challenges.”

Related: Bob Marley: One Love Sings to Big Box Office Opening of $51 Million as Madame Web Disappoints

The most nuanced part of Ben-Adir’s preparation, he adds, was immersing himself in all the elements of Marley’s life that couldn’t be captured by “transcribing all of his interviews and learning all of the songs.” 

“Understanding who Bob was as a human being,” says the Barbie actor, meant that “we spoke a lot about his vulnerability. Who was it that saw him cry, and when did he cry, when did he feel?”

Those discussions with “the Jamaican people who knew Bob and loved him,” as Ben-Adir says, formed the backbone of his portrayal. “I wouldn't have been able to do that without them. There's no books where that's written. It's all from different people… It involved a lot of fine-tuning and being careful.”

Related: Kingsley Ben-Adir Met 'Lovely' Meghan Markle and 'Funny' Prince Harry at Bob Marley: One Love Premiere (Exclusive)

<p>Paramount Pictures; Michael Ochs Archives/Getty</p> (Left to right:) Kingsley Ben-Adir in "Bob Marley: One Love," Bob Marley

Paramount Pictures; Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

(Left to right:) Kingsley Ben-Adir in "Bob Marley: One Love," Bob Marley

It helped that One Love filmed in both London and Jamaica, often at many of the sites Marley himself frequented. “He knew the streets,” says Ben-Adir of the late musician. 

Of the film, Marley’s son Ziggy, 55, wrote on Instagram: "Authenticity fills the screen with numerous Jamaican actors doing us proud in representing the culture. Filmed at the actual places where Bob walked, played football and sang like Trench Town and Bull bay in Kingston, it is an artistic creation that we are proud of… for us it represents the continuation of Bob’s message and growth."

Bob Marley: One Love, co-written by Green, Terence Winter, Frank E. Flowers and Zach Baylin, is in theaters now.

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Read the original article on People.