Tuesday 16th January 2018,

Casting Dr. King: Who Will Play Martin?!

Aymar Jean Christian May 19, 2009 uncategorized Comments Off on Casting Dr. King: Who Will Play Martin?!


UPDATE: Apparently some King heirs are disputing the holder of the estate’s legal authority over the rights to Dr. King’s story. Dreamworks, for now, is working on a solution.

Cinematical reports that Steven Spielberg has nabbed the rights to a full-scale biopic, a first, of Dr. Martin Luther King. Not a guaranteed slam dunk to be sure but at least it’s a better idea than the much-feared Obama biopics. Says Cinematical’s :

So, why now? Well, I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that Lincoln has been struggling. If one biopic flails while trying to find cash, why not grab another passion project that would undoubtedly have an easier time getting funded? But there’s also the timeliness factor. As DreamWorks co-chair Stacey Snider explains: “The answer lies in MLK’s own words: ‘All progress is precarious.’ With every step forward, new obstacles emerge and we must never forget that his life and his teachings continue to challenge us every day to stand up to hatred and inequality.”

Yes, the critical question is who will play King? Obviously Hollywood isn’t going to go for an unknown, even though they should. The first actor that comes to mind is Terrence Howard, the only actor in the right age range with enough similarity and acting chops that I can think of. The problem is his raspy voice, very un-King. Jeffrey Wright, who has played King before, is another semi-obvious choice, but will Hollywood go with someone so unproven and noncommercial? Who am I missing? Can Cedric the Entertainer act? 🙂 This is a tough one. Thoughts?

PS – Is Spike Lee upset he’s (probably) not directing?

UPDATE: A Facebook friend mentions Lawrence Fishburne, who might be a little old for the part, but looks young. The problem in general with King is he’s so iconic and omnipresent, you need a really good actor to pull him off.

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About The Author

Aymar Jean Christian is assistant professor of communication at Northwestern University. He writes about media and society for a number of publications. For more information, click the "About" tab at the top of the page.

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