The new biopic ‘Bob Marley: One Love,’ which chronicles the life of the late reggae singer opens in theaters on February 14th. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (‘King Richard’), the movie stars Kingsley Ben-Adir (‘Barbie’) in the title role.

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with Kingsley Ben-Adir about his work on 'Bob Marley: One Love,' what audience can expect from the new movie, and how he prepared to play the iconic Bob Marley.

ingsley Ben-Adir is hitting his vape at the clip that most people sip beer, telling me a story about smoking weed on the way to Dave Chappelle’s house. (“I fucking nearly whited, man. I was on the tour-bus van, heading down to the party, and I had to put my feet up in the air to get blood back into my head.”) We’re borrowing a C-suiter’s office at Paramount’s Times Square headquarters, and the thermostat is jacked diabolically high. The thirty-seven-year-old British actor is here to promote Bob Marley: One Love (out this Valentine’s Day), and he’s flown overseas for the first round of promotional duties. That’s all to say: This could be a tedious work trip, but it’s immediately clear that I’m talking with a man who has mastered the art of having fun on the job.

A brief history of that work: Ben-Adir grew up in London; conquered the local theater circuit (surprise: a lot of Shakespeare); and, in 2020, portrayed an anxious, tender Malcolm X in One Night in Miami. This past summer, he played one of the many Kens in Barbie. He didn’t have a “job” the way Ryan Gosling’s Kendid (“beach,” as you will almost certainly recall). Instead, his Ken “just looks to Ken-Ryan to see what’s good,” Ben-Adir explains. Character development went like this: “I just thought he should always be holding something for him.”

Ben-Adir did his mandatory Marvel duty on last summer’s Secret Invasion, as a sociopathic alien opposite Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. The Disney+ show was panned, but there’s a scene worth catching in which the two men are alone in a room, trading blows. Asked about this moment of genuine cinema, Ben-Adir says, “It was supposed to be that.” He slows down and looks me right in the eye, trying to convey, I think, that the whole damn series could have been so much more if it had been edited differently. “Marvel, in their stories, are constantly changing and evolving as you shoot, which sometimes is good and sometimes really difficult as an actor to keep up,” he says.

This is rare candor about what is arguably the most powerful machine in Hollywood. But “I’m so glad that I was part of it,” he says later, sounding like he means it. He isn’t being interview-nice. He’s being third-drink-with-a- coworker-nice. Ben-Adir’s at the point in his career where the work starts coming with perks. Like the freedom to say no—which is what he planned to do, at first, when One Love’s director, Reinaldo Marcus Green, asked him to audition for the role of Bob Marley. “I just was like, ‘I’m not the right person for Bob.’ I just felt that strongly,” he says. The whole thing was risky: He couldn’t sing. He couldn’t play the guitar. But the filmmakers pushed him to make an audition tape, and sure enough, the Marley family wanted to meet him. “I just couldn’t walk away from it, because it felt pretty dangerous. I had absolutely no idea where to start. It’s weird excitement in that.”