Chadwick Boseman plays another American icon: Thurgood Marshall

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Josh Gad (from left), Chadwick Boseman and Sterling K. Brown in “Marshall.” | Barry Wetcher/Open Road Films

NEW YORK — Knowing that he would be coming to town this week to open the Chicago International Film Festival’s 53rd season with his new film “Marshall” — Chadwick Boseman has been keeping eye on the weather.

“I see it has been unusually warm there,” the actor said. “When it’s warm in Chicago in September and October, you know there’s something to global warming!”

Boseman will be joined by co-stars Josh Gad and Sterling K. Brown, and director Reginald Hudlin, for the Thursday evening Midwest premiere at the festival. “Marshall” chronicles the role future U.S. Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall played in the 1941 rape and attempted murder trial of an African-American chauffeur in Connecticut — accused of attacking the socialite wife of his employer.

If he could have met Marshall, the actor said, he would love to hear about his years as an NAACP lawyer struggling for equality.

“I would have loved to also sit and talk to him about what it was like to go from being the attorney fighting for civil rights, to being in a position [as Supreme Court justice] where he was able to interpret the laws in this country. That must have been an interesting transition for him,” said the actor. “I’d love to know when he knew that he wanted to switch to the other side of the bench, so to speak.”

Boseman has played several iconic heroes in recent years: Jackie Robinson (“42”), James Brown (“Get on Up”), and now Marshall. “Yes, it has been a great honor to portray those amazing men. It has been extremely meaningful for me to have that opportunity,” Boseman said.

“What’s been quite challenging is that I have to leave certain parts of my own life behind me when I do them. To play them properly, you have to come as close as you can to becoming those men. It is totally necessary to dedicate that amount of time and energy — if you’re going to do it right, and respect their legacy.”

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