Zoe Saldana replaces Mary J Blige in Nina Simone biopic

'Star Trek' actress to star as the late singer in a movie due to start filming in October

Zoe Saldana is to play Nina Simone in a new movie about the legendary jazz singer.

Titled Nina and scripted by Cynthia Mort, the biopic is based on Simone’s 1992 autobiography I Put A Spell On You. Mary J Blige was linked to the title role back in 2010, but is said to have moved on following funding difficulties.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project has now secured a budget and will begin shooting in Los Angeles on October 16 (2012). Saldana has been cast as Simone, while former Spooks star David Oyelowo will play Clifton Henderson, the singer’s assistant and eventual lover.


Saldana, 34, is best known for her roles as Anamaria in the second Pirates Of The Caribbean movie and Uhuru in the 2009 Star Trek film. She also portrays a Na’vi called Neytiri in James Cameron’s Avatar. She recently completed work on Out Of The Furnace, an upcoming thriller co-starring Christian Bale, and the untitled Star Trek sequel.

The daughter of a North Carolina preacher, Nina Simone recorded more than 40 albums before passing away in 2003 at the age of 70. She became heavily involved in the US civil rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s, but later relocated to France following tax issues. ‘The Very Best Of Nina Simone’, a compilation of her most famous recordings, such as ‘Feeling Good’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’, made the UK Top Ten in 2006.