In a seriously awesome Broadway coup, Rent alum Jesse L. Martin has replaced singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz as the headliner of the forthcoming bio pic Sexual Healing, according to Deadline.com. In the new film, Martin will star as Grammy-winning legend Marvin Gaye. Julien Temple (Absolute Beginners) is slated to direct the movie, which starts filming later this month in Europe. No release date has been set.
Martin had previously been attached to the project, but Kravitz was then named as the star in November. Gaye’s son, Marvin Gaye III, however had objections about the casting choice and threatened to take legal action if Kravitz remained with the project. Sexual Healing follows Gaye’s life in Europe in the early 1980s, when, alongside music promoter Freddy Cousaert (played by Brendan Gleason), he tried to overcome his drug addiction and focus on his music career.
After meeting Motown CEO Berry Gordy in 1960, Gaye begin his career as a session musician before earning notoriety singing alongside Tammi Terrell. Their hit duets included “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.” In 1968, Gaye released “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” his first hit to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. His first post-Motown release, Midnight Love, featured the hit single “Sexual Healing”—the song earned Gaye two trophies at the 1982 Grammys. Gaye’s music career spanned over three decades before his untimely death at the age of 44, when he was shot by his father during a family argument.
Martin appeared on Broadway in Timon of Athens and The Government Inspector before landing his breakout role as Tom Collins in Rent. The actor later went on to star in The Merchant of Venice on Broadway. Known as Detective Ed Green on Law & Order, Martin’s additional film and TV credits include Ally McBeal, Joyful Noise, The Philanthropist, 413 Hope St., A Christmas Carol: The Musical and the 2005 film adaptation of Rent. He will have a six episode arc as Scott Welker on the current season of Smash.
Does Martin have what it takes to play Marvin Gaye? Watch him serenade Rosie O’Donnell with Rent’s “I’ll Cover You” below!