How Kingsley Ben-Adir became reggae legend Bob Marley for the inspirational biopic One Love

The life of reggae legend Bob Marley comes to the screen in the rousing new biopic Bob Marley: One Love.

Actor Kingsley Ben-Adir undergoes a startling and eerie transformation to become the radical artist who brought the reggae genre to global attention. As with all biopics, watching the performer disappear into the guise of a familiar and much-loved artist is fascinating in and of itself.

Here are some facts explaining how the talented Ben-Adir became one with the legendary musician who never stopped preaching his message of solidarity and hope.

  • Ben-Adir initially turned down the role of Bob Marley, citing his inability to sing and dance, but was eventually convinced when watching Marley’s legendary 1977 live shows at London’s Rainbow Theatre.

  • He sent an audition tape to Marley's family and eventually won the role, continuing to work closely with them during the production.

  • "It was a communal effort to get underneath the man and show a side to him that’s more human," Ben-Adir explains, "to look at some of the struggles and some of the pressures he was under at the time. And I was like, ‘Well, I’m an actor and I can do that.'"

  • Ben-Adir set up a 'Bob Station' on the set of Greta Gerwig's Barbie.

  • In between takes while playing Basketball Ken, Ben-Adir would retreat into a private room behind Mojo Dojo Casa House and practice Marley's vocal cadences.

  • One Love was originally set to begin filming in June 2022 but it was pushed back to December, which helped Ben-Adir refine his portrayal.

  • "Looking back, the time scale was not realistic," he says. "Just the language and the patois needed such a huge amount of attention that a June start date was never going to happen."


  • Ben-Adir studied hours of archive interviews and unreleased recordings to perfect Marley's delivery.

  • He also spent time in Marley's home country Jamaica, explaining: "When I went to Jamaica, I saw pictures of Bob on every road. There were statues of him everywhere, and the significance of this man to that culture is just unlike anything you’ve ever seen."

  • The actor also had to learn guitar from scratch, playing "until his fingers were bleeding" according to director Reinaldo Marcus Green.

  • The actor lip-syncs in a recreation of the Marley and the Wailers Exodus Tour, which was filmed at London's Alexandra Palace.

  • To better capture Marley's distinctive stance and dance moves, Ben-Adir enlisted the help of Polly Bennett, who helped Austin Butler become Elvis.

  • Ben-Adir lip-syncs in all of the film's concert scenes but elsewhere in the film, following the encouragement of Marley's son Ziggy, he sings and performs himself.

  • However, the actor's rendition of 'Lively Up Yourself' was cut from the film for pacing reasons.


  • Ben-Adir even attempted to pen some of his own songs but lamented his efforts, saying: "The point is not that I'm a terrible songwriter – it's that what became clearer and clearer to me was the genius of Bob's music, and how committed he was."

  • Marley's love of soccer was also taken seriously and Ben-Adir worked on his own football skills alongside professional players.

  • "Kingsley really did his homework," Ziggy Marley says. "He's so well-prepared. I don't think anyone else was capable of that role."

  • Lashana Lynch who plays Marley's wife Rita in the movie says: "I hadn’t worked with an actor who lives, eats, breathes and takes such delicate care when protecting the human they are portraying. In many moments, I became Rita off the back of my want for protecting Kingsley on set. He gives an unbelievable amount to his craft, so part of my job was to ensure this man was protected at all costs. Seeing him draw sweat from embodying Bob energetically was like nothing I’d ever seen. In return, I’ll applaud him forever."

Click the link below to book your tickets for Bob Marley: One Love. The movie is currently on release at Cineworld cinemas.