Even though James Brown had a history of domestic violence in his relationships, Jill Scott doesn’t think he was a monster.
The “Golden” diva will be playing one of James’ wives, Deirdre “Deedee” Jenkins, in the upcoming biopic Get On Up. As part of her role she has to recreate a difficult moment in the marriage when James assaults her. To physically prepare for the scene, Jill worked with a stuntman so that she could figure out how to fall correctly.
Emotionally speaking, Jill had to tap into Dee Dee’s mindset to process why she would have stayed with James after that attack. Knowing her reason helped her to better understand how to play the role.
“As the domestic part of it, when I was told by her grandson that she was still in love with James…now…that’s all I really needed,” said Jill, who got banged up pretty badly on the set while fiming the scene. “The most important thing was that she was absolutely, unequivocally devoted to the man. So this was a bump in the road. This was a bad day, but it wasn’t the end of the world. Dee Dee loves James. Period.”
It’s not uncommon for victims, like Dee Dee, to stay with their abusers. According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, about 76 percent of women ages 25-34 years old that have experience domestic violence have been attacked by the same partner. That number rises to 81 percent for women ages 35-49 years old.
The women might stay for any number of reasons. Jill muses, that Dee Dee stuck around as long as she did because of James’ charisma.
“He’s a powerful man and he’s someone to love…for many reasons, the talent alone,” said Jill. “Then he was actually very loving…at times, and very generous which I’m sure she enjoyed.”
She added, “She enjoyed that, but about 11 years into their marriage she had had enough.”