Q&A: Mick Jagger, The Film Producer, Heads To Work

Song credits won’t be the latest place to feature Mick Jagger’s name. Instead, look to upcoming films and TV shows.

The Rolling Stones frontman has been busy producing projects, from this year’s James Brown biopic “Get on Up” to a not-yet-titled HBO series directed by Martin Scorsese.

Jagger is also behind the HBO documentary “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown,” which debuts Monday (9 p.m. EDT). The rock icon said he was asked to produce the documentary before the film.

“I was really interested, but I was kind of a bit documentary-ed out at that point,” the 71-year-old said with a laugh, explaining that he was asked to produce “Mr. Dynamite” around the time he finished working on the 2012 Stones’ documentary, “Crossfire Hurricane.”

“It’s very time-consuming … but I said, ‘Yeah and I’d really like to do the documentary.’ Then I woke up the next morning and thought a feature film would be a great idea.”

Jagger asked Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney to work on the documentary, which takes an overarching look at the Godfather of Soul’s life. Brown died in 2006, at 73.

“The fact that we were doing it after Mr. Brown had passed allowed people to be a little bit more free about talking about him,” Gibney said.

Gibney, whose credits include “Taxi to the Dark Side,” said he enjoyed collaborating with Jagger.

“I heard some things that made me nervous, but I had a great time. He’s a good producer,” he said. “I just heard rumbles … but I didn’t find that to be the case. Just the opposite.”

Jagger’s other upcoming production projects include the films “Tabloid” and “The Tiny Problems of White People” with Colin Firth. He’ll play rescheduled dates with the Stones in Australia starting Saturday, and said in a recent interview that his production duties have helped him deal with his tumultuous year following the suicide of his longtime partner, L’Wren Scott.

Photo: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, file
At the world premiere of the film “Get On Up” at the Apollo Theater in New York.

AP: What was your relationship with James Brown?

Jagger: I’m not claiming that we were buddies (laughs), but I met him early on in my career. When I first came to New York … I went to the Apollo and I spent the day there … I introduced myself to him, I’m sure he had no clue (who I was) … But he was very, very nice to me. Very generous.

How influential was Brown?

He was such a big influence on all kinds of music. He was influential on performers that came later like Michael Jackson, Prince, and then the beginning of hip-hop and so forth. But he was also influential (on) every band, every rock band, (they) didn’t necessarily play all James Brown numbers, but we all knew them.

The documentary focuses on his music and activism, but it also touches on domestic violence, which was glossed over in the film.

I think Alex wanted to concentrate really on the two areas (music and activism) … without ignoring the other areas. We could have made a whole movie (on), ‘Was James Brown a drug addict and wife abuser?’ but that’s the negativity and I don’t think you want to be … white-washing people, but you don’t want to be turning up their negative side. And really we wanted to explore James Brown the musician, the performer. We wanted to explore James Brown the activist, because those we really interesting times. A lot of people obviously didn’t live through them and a lot of people forget, me included, so we didn’t heavy-hand the negativity of it.

What other musicians would you like to do a documentary about?

I have been asked to be involved in producing a movie on an adolescent Elvis … so that’s in the works. And I’m doing a series on HBO which is very much music-orientated. It’s fictional drama. The lead character is the owner of a record company and it’s about his life.

Are you going to appear on the HBO series?

I’m not in it. It’s a story I worked on with Marty (Scorsese). … It was going to be a movie and then we made it into a TV series. … The action starts in 1973 in New York so it’s a kind of a weird time because it’s like the beginning of punk, the very beginning of hip-hop and so a lot is going on.

This has been an emotional year for you. How are you doing?

Jagger: I’m doing fine. … Everyone’s been kind to me. My family’s been very supportive, you know. I’ve had a lot of work to do so that’s kept me, you know, in a good way. So I’m fine.