Chadwick Boseman plays Jackie Robinson, the first black player in the American Major League Baseball, in the film 42 – a reference to his shirt number.
Boseman said: “Around the same time that I heard of Martin Luther King, I heard of Jackie Robinson. They kind of just go together when you’re talking about civil rights.”
The film by Oscar-winning screenwriter Brian Helgeland also stars Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who fought for Robinson’s selection for the 1947 team, to the disgust of colleagues and fans.
Ford said: “We overcame that. We changed that. We recognized that it was a wrong thing and by (the) power of the commitment of these two men, things changed. And there’s more to be done. There’s more change to be wrought. But without what happened in baseball, I think the civil rights movement would have been years on down the line, compared to when it did happen.”
Chadwick Boseman added: “He carried the torch. And he carried it alone for a period of time before other people could help him. And the thing that he started is still not completely finished. The dragon of racism has not been completely slayed. Although we have subdued it, it’s still lurking beneath. And it’s something that we have to continue to fight.”
42 is now playing in cinemas in the UK.