Michelle Obama goes to bat for Jackie Robinson film
05:00 AM, Apr 02, 2013
She says she’s no movie critic, but first lady Michelle Obama is sure about what she likes, and she likes 42.
Nope, not Bill Clinton, the 42nd president (although she probably likes him, too) but the new film about Jackie Robinson (No. 42), Brooklyn Dodgers chief Branch Rickey and their momentous integration of baseball in the 1940s after 60 years of segregation in America’s pastime.
On Tuesday, Obama welcomed Robinson’s widow, 90-year-old Rachel Robinson, and the cast of 42, including Harrison Ford, who plays Rickey, and Chadwick Boseman, who portrays Robinson. They were there for an interactive discussion of the film at the White House with 80 high school and college students from across the USA.
The first lady, who has enlisted other Hollywood films to help inspire kids, couldn’t say enough good things about the “brilliant” 42. She and President Obama watched the movie together over the weekend, without daughters Malia and Sasha, who were away.
“They are definitely going to watch this movie,” she told the audience today, according to the White House transcript. “We think that everybody in this country needs to watch this movie. And I can say with all sincerity that it was truly powerful for us.”
Obama said she was “tripping out” with excitement over the presence of Ford, described Boseman as “cute,” and nearly teared up when she introduced her hero, Rachel Robinson.
“I’m not going to get emotional, I’m going to say that now, because I can tend to get emotional,” she said. “But she’s a woman of strength, of courage, conviction; a woman who paved the way for me, but she paved the way for millions of Americans all across this country.”
She tried to explain to the young people in the audience how it used to be in America and how so much has changed. And she told them how they can learn from Hollywood’s retelling of the story.
“Watching anyone go through what Jackie and Rachel Robinson did the outright discrimination they encountered at every turn, from the fans in the stadium to the airport receptionist, even from some of his own teammates,” she said. “And you’re left just asking yourselves, how on earth did they live through that? How did they do it? How did they endure the taunts and the bigotry for all of that time?”
The secret, Obama said, is that no one comes out a finished product.
“There is no magic that makes someone an actor or a director or a doctor or a lawyer or a president or first lady,” she said. “That is the one thing I want you all to understand. If you gain nothing from this movie or any of our lives, there is no magic. It takes grit. It takes determination and a whole lot of hard work. And as you know in the movie, it takes guts.”
42 opens April 12.