April 3, 2008

I Have a Dream: A Worthy MLK, Jr. Biopic

Forty years ago tomorrow, a courageous man was gunned down on a hotel balcony in Memphis, TN. Only 39 years old at the time of his assassination, he dared to dream about a future that seemed unfathomable to America at the time. Really - considering the context of the American culture around him in the 60's, does it register with you how forward-thinking he was? It would be like talking about moon colonies now - conceptually you can imagine it, but come on, not gonna happen, right? Granted, his dream hasn't been fully realized yet either, but we'll keep working at it. In the meantime, I have a dream of my own: a full-length, theatrical feature about this man's life and legacy.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was by all accounts enigmatic and extremely self-aware - even withdrawn at times. In other words, he is a layered character from which to develop a biography. As much as he's been celebrated as a martyr and hero, there have been those who've attempted posthumous character assassination as well, pegging him as an unfaithful husband and a political radical. Well, I've certainly revered him during my life for his positive work and bold spirit, but I'm not going to sit here and defend his flaws either, because he wasn't a saint and it doesn't really matter anyway. I've done (I think) some decent things in my years, but if you want to bring me down because I ran a stop sign last January, well I'm very sorry, but there's nothing I can do about that. Anyway, the point is that King is the kind of human (and that's all he was) that you don't meet everyday, and his life is worth another look regardless of what you think of him.

Are you wondering if there has really never been a movie about him? Well, there has - but a made-for-television biopic was produced about John Denver, too (no offense to John Denver fans). I'll admit that I haven't been able to get my hands on "King," the 1978 miniseries that apparently received positive reviews, nor have I seen HBO Films' Boycott from 2001. So yes, it's been done, and maybe those are great, but if Anna Nicole Smith has already had her day on the silver screen (Anna Nicole, coming soon to a theater near you), so should King.

It's not as if the issue has never come up before. Just last year, around the release of the completely underrated Talk to Me, Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post wrote a great piece, "Waiting for 'Action!'," about the overall lack of civil rights-era movies. She gives a nice review of what's been done and what's been proposed, but she only hints at countering the excuses put forth by studio executives: "Black-themed films don't play overseas. African American actors can't open movies. American filmgoers don't like dramas. Multi-character historical dramas are just too expensive." Obviously those are ridiculous reasons, but it still doesn't sound like anyone is stepping up to the plate with a King biopic in the near future.

How about this? I'll find the talent while someone else finds the funding, since that's where this will start and end. In fact, give me a free pass to the premiere and I'll organize a fundraiser, too.

Let's get to work.

When searching for the actor to play King, we have to consider several fundamental criteria. First, the person must not be too well known or already overexposed; we have to be able to see them as King and not as themselves. Secondly, they have to look somewhat like King, so as not to be a constant distraction. Lastly, they actually have to be able to act. Can't forget that. So, who could fully inhabit this man?

Casting Call:
(please excuse spacing issues)

Anthony Anderson -
Recent credits include Transformers, The Departed, and Hustle & Flow. You laugh, but dude actually has acting chops, and he's not only good for comic relief. I've heard positive words about his roles in TV's "K-Ville" and "The Shield," though I can't speak from personal observations there. He seems like a nice guy, he might be able to pull it off, and he could use a career boost.

Terrence Howard - Best known in recent years for his hot period that included roles in Ray, Crash, and Hustle & Flow (for which he received a Best Actor Oscar nom), Howard is young and promising, despite his questionable choices in recent years. He actually played King's friend Ralph Abernathy in 2001's Boycott, and he seems like someone who would take the role of King seriously.

Ving Rhames - Yeah, it's a stretch to think Marsellus Wallace could translate to Martin Luther King, Jr., but Rhames has just enough gravitas to do real justice to a dramatic role. He seems to always play a sidekick or otherwise diminished character, but some part of me thinks he could ably handle one of King's rousing pulpit speeches. Eh...maybe. Like I said, it's a stretch.

Jeffrey Wright - After a notable debut in 1996's Basquiat, Wright recently reemerged in Broken Flowers, Syriana, and HBO's "Angels in America." He clearly has talent, but you won't see it on display in two horrifyingly terrible recent movies - 2007's The Invasion and 2006's Lady in the Water. Tragic. Oh yeah, he also won an AFI Award for his role in Boycott. His character? Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bernie Mac - That's right, Bernie Mac. All of his wild comedy aside, I saw just enough of his real acting talent in Bad Santa, Pride, and Spike Lee's Get on the Bus to think that he might be able to pull this off. It would take some real patience on the part of the viewer, but you never know how some actors will fit their part. Did you ever think the star of "The Jamie Foxx Show" would win an Oscar?

Mykelti Williamson - You know him as Bubba from Forrest Gump (and as Baby-O from Con Air - was that the same character?), but you've forgotten that he had impressive turns in Three Kings, Ali, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, and most recently, ATL. If this were a pool of some sort, he would be my sleeper pick.

Cuba Gooding, Jr. - I know. Since his Oscar win in 1996, he's either been blacklisted or he has the worst agent in Hollywood. You'll find his post-Jerry Maguire movies in the movie library at Guantanamo: Instinct, Snow Dogs, Rat Race, Boat Trip, Norbit, Daddy Day Camp - I'll stop. He finally landed a chance in American Gangster last year, but it was unfortunately a flashy, shallow role. Call me certifiably insane, but I still think he has potential.

Chiwetel Ejiofor - I consider his breakthrough Dirty Pretty Things, but he's really come on the scene since Kinky Boots in 2005, maybe Inside Man in 2006. Choose what you like, he's a deserving star on the rise. It's crazy that I've included Ejiofor on this list because I've criticized his poor American accent for years. Fortunately, King had a speaking inflection of his own that Ejiofor could probably pull off, and conveniently, he looks exactly like him.

There are others, of course, that I briefly considered: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Cedric the Entertainer, Wesley Snipes, Jamie Foxx, Omar Epps, Donald Faison, Andre Braugher, Eddie Murphy, Laurence Fishburne, Eric La Salle, Larenz Tate, and more, including others that don't look the part (Don Cheadle, Forest Whitaker). Despite the popular vote, you can't consider Samuel L. Jackson, Denzel Washington, or Morgan Freeman. They wouldn't fit at all, they would never take the role, and Denzel's already been robbed once for Malcolm X.

But even after our casting decisions, how do you tell the story? After all, we're talking about one of the most complex public figures in history. Developing a filmable biography of King is not the easiest task Hollywood has faced. Potential screenwriters won't be considered at this time, but it will certainly be a massive project deserving of special attention.

Finally, what about directors? Not as much science here, but equally as important. I'll just throw out some names - Spike Lee (Malcolm X), Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump), James Mangold (Walk the Line), Oliver Stone (Nixon, JFK), Taylor Hackford (Ray), Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man), and Julian Schnabel (Basquiat, Before Night Falls, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly). These are all currently working American directors who have, in my opinion, already proven they can handle a dramatic male character biography. I would also deliberately add African-American directors John Singleton (Boyz 'n the Hood, Rosewood) and Albert and Allen Hughes (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents) to the list, despite the fact that they've done hardly any work of significance in recent years.

So that's it. The hard work is done.

Actually, he did the hard work.

Now it's our turn.


  1. Getafilm...Great write up on Martin Luther King! He was definitely an amazing person. When I was in DC during MLK day, there was a special on CNN about his life and the work he did. It was very emotional, and it really made me think about myself and what I am doing to help end injustices in this world. He dedicated his life to fight for justice. We should continue to do the same thing.

    So about your dream...I agree with you. We DO need to have a a "full-length, theatrical feature about this man's life and legacy". What have we been waiting for? I guess, directors are intimidated to take on such a task. If the director failed, that would be the end of his or her career. I'm not sure what director would be best. I think you had a good selection of the actors who could possibly play MLK. I think Terrance Howard would do an excellent job. Maybe even Cuba Gooding JR or Chiwetel Ejiofor

  2. Thanks for the visit, and your kind words. It's kind of sad that it takes an anniversary for us to reflect on how we're living - not just with MLK, but other people and events as well. Of course, you could say it's sad that I'm suggesting a movie to initiate reflection, but, well, I like movies.

    Since you hinted at a female director - I hoped it wouldn't look like I was limiting it to men. Hopefully the initial criteria I laid out for the directors assuage any such accusation.

  3. If we can make movies about the monster who killed John Lennon, why can't we make them about a man who actually changed the world for the better?

  4. "You'll find his post-Jerry Maguire movies in the movie library at Guantanamo:"

    Too true, too true. :) With that said, I think Cuba would be the best pick. He has the chops and his career desperately needs a shot of adrenaline to the heart.

    What with all the frenzied bio-pic making of recent years, you'd think this would be a shoe-in.

  5. I see my beloved Craig beat me to the punch. It happens.

    I do agree with the very first commenter on many aspects of his/her post. Certainly with the general sentiment.

    Danny, I think all of the actors you discussed could likely all portray MLK effectively to some degree. Of course, they do bring very different things to the table individually. But an effective director that is willing to collaborate in an efficient manner could make the most of their respective qualities and illuminate them in a positive way.

    But there are three gentlemen that stand out to me particularly. Terrence Howard is not only a supremely talented actor but he also possesses the great magnetism that MLK had.

    Jeffrey Wright is absolutely brilliant. I don't think he's ever been able to show his complete (and thoroughly amazing) range in the film roles that he's been given. As you also pointed out, Danny, he's all ready won an award for portraying the man.

    Chiwetel Ojiofor could definitely do this. He's a strong but sensitive type. You can read his face and he doesn't have to say a word. Plus I'm sure he's actively looking for that great role that would make him a household name. This could be it.

    I know this is entirely shallow, but Mr. Howard and Mr. Ejiofor are both strikingly handsome. I'm also a big fan of both. If either one were cast I would be much more likely to go.

    So that's my two cents...

  6. Great article! I never realized that there hasn't been a full fledged MLK movie yet. It's a shame.

    As for actors, I'd have to go with Chiwetel Ejiofor. I think he's an amazing actor and he fits the "underexposed" criteria. I loved him in Dirty Pretty Things and would really like to see him win an Oscar for portraying King. And as you said, it helps that he looks a lot like MLK.

  7. I think taking on King would be a monumentally thorny task for a director. It might well be a worthwhile headache, but you are guaranteed controversy. But there should be someone out there with the temerity.

  8. I am so with you on this. My vote goes to Terrence Howard.

  9. Hello I just entered before I have to leave to the airport, it's been very nice to meet you, if you want here is the site I told you about where I type some stuff and make good money (I work from home): here it is

  10. Encouraging to see people still holding MLK in high regard.

    Craig, it's where we find ourselves in 2008. What can I say? There are of course other notable figures that haven't been fully covered, either. Has there been an official Elvis pic? Not that he's an MLK...uh oh...

    I didn't even put the last few years in perspective, Evan. There have been a lot recently, haven't there? Mostly musicians for some reason. Weird.

    Are you calling Jeffrey Wright ugly, Miranda? Haha, just kidding. You're right about his film roles - they've been pretty underwhelming. My lasting impression of him is actually the Broadway production of Topdog/Underdog from 2002. I saw it when he was opposite Mos Def (not Don Cheadle) and have compared all of their film roles to that ever since. Wright needs to get his due at some point, and this could be it. That goes for half of these guys, though.

    Thanks, Justin. It was a fun post to research and write. Ejiofor was great in DPT, and another smaller role in She Hate Me, the Spike Lee joint that preceded Inside Man. I'd have no problem with him taking home Oscar for portraying MLK, but the odds aren't great since Foxx and Whitaker both just won for their bio roles.

    Thanks, Kristi - I hope it's not in vain, since so many studio executives subscribe to my blog...

    Welcome, K.! Thanks for stopping by. His age really hit me when I thought about that. You never really think of him as a "young man." Even his voice sounded about 20 years older than him. It's an extremely sensitive project, that's for sure. I'm not comparing the two, but plenty of movies have been made about Jesus, so yeah, I expect someone to step up. Notice I excluded Gibson from the director list...

    Glad you connected with it, Nayana. Howard is getting some serous consideration here, isn't he? Might be time for an official poll...

  11. Oh thanks, Adam hope you don't miss your flight it was nice to meet you, too and I'm glad you gave me that link because I couldn't find anything else like it online, sounds like you have a nice gig there, "typing some stuff" and making good money, let me know when you "enter" again I've got something for you, JERK...

    Sigh. If this starts to happen I'll have to start moderating. Argh. Hope nobody clicks on that link. I guess I could just delete the comment, but then what would happen to my oh-so-witty reply?

  12. I am amazed by the number of roles that Anthony Anderson can fit into. I have watched The Shield since the first season, and I was surprised and impressed by his very believable performance. He would be my top pick to pull this off.

  13. As a non-US citizen, I am still amazed by the man. I think Terrence Howard would do the role justice, if it is possible. I second your dream Danny.

  14. Typing for money. That almost sounds too good to be true.

    Great article and a bunch of good choices. I'll throw in a none-of-the-above vote and go with Idris Elba, who played Stringer Bell on The Wire.

  15. "I am amazed by the number of roles that Anthony Anderson can fit into."

    He's big, but that's just not nice, Adam. Haha. Like I said, I haven't seen him in "The Shield," but enough people had talked about him in it that I threw him in there. Thanks for making me not look like an idiot.

    I could say the same about your man Nelson Mandela, Nick. Speaking of which - biopic? I think Morgan Freeman did a Mandela at some point...ah, just looked. I'm ahead of myself. He will be Mandela in next year's The Human Factor, also starring Damon (SA accent?) and directed by Clint Eastwood. So until then, the only Mandela pics have been Goodbye Bafana starring Dennis Haysbert and a made-for-TV version starring Danny Glover. Unbelievable.

    Thanks, Matt. I actually knew there was another TV actor floating out there, and I think you got him.

    Yeah, typing - not writing - for money. Stupid spammers.

  16. Now, now, Danny. I would never call Jeffrey Wright ugly. He's definitely attractive. That must have been quite the experience to see him live, though. I really envy you for that.

    I hate to say this (and as a blonde, green eyed, glamourous white woman I am not the ideal person to be coming forth with this particular complaint) but it genuinely bothers me that non- Caucasian actors get such a raw deal. I remember a Premiere interview with Angela Bassett (who's amazing). The gentleman who was talking to her (I believe it was Brantley Bardin) said, "It's really unfortunate, but I think it's likely that you would be a much bigger star if you were white." She replied, "I do not disagree."

    I'm happy that the world has changed. But it certainly hasn't changed enough to suit me. Definitely yet another reason why this film should be made.

    For my closing remarks, back to the Jeffrey Wright thing: It would go completely against my nature to refrain from remarking on what supremely gorgeous head turners Mr. Howard and Mr. Ejiofor are. It's not something that I would ever miss. All I'm saying.

  17. Well if they're not getting a raw deal, then they're getting the same deal. Who would come to the producer's mind to play Coretta Scott King? Angela Bassett. She's already played Rosa Parks and Betty Shabazz - twice.

  18. The writer of the article mentioned the 1978 mini series King, however stated that they haven't seen it.I am just going to say a few things about that a great film. The production, directed by Abby Mann (who sadly passed away only a week or so ago, 25th March) remains a high mark in his career which also included the screenplay for Judgment at Nuremberg. The TV mini-series King spanned several episodes, featuring a great cast of black character actors including two of the very best: Ossie David and Roscoe Lee Browne. Steven Hill was also on hand to deliver some fine moments. However, the film belonged to Paul Winfield. Best known for his role as the police detective in the Terminator (1984), his performance is equal to the man himself. Winfield is King. See the film and you will to agree that no one else need play King. King features a truly powerful leading performance and is overall an amazing television feature. I recommended to anyone ... everyone.

  19. I think Ice Cube sould be cast as Martin Luther King.

    Danny Glover should be considered as Martin Luther King in heaven as an angel telling his own story.

  20. Here is an idea. King is someone who inspires a lot of people. There are also a lot of jobless screenwriters in the U.S., My suggestion would be start together with a goodrunning filmcompany a competition in wich aspiring writers can write there own MARTIN LUTHER KING-BIOPIC screenplay. And the winner gets to see his film made.

  21. I am a greenlander.
    Maybe some of you don't know what that means, But it means I come from Greenland. You, global warming hotspot.

    But even here everybody know about Mr. King. There are only like 57.000 people in Greenland. We couldn't even fill the million man march.

    I have read a lot about him. and I admire him very much. And I would sure go watch a movie about him, that I am also a huge movie fan. I belive that Terrence Howards could pull it of. But in my opinion it should be Cuba Gooding jr. since he desperatly needs a good part. I think he was great in Jerry and Men of honour.

  22. Hey owner of blog...

    I am the greenlander.. I have just created an account. If you should choose to accept my comment, could you put on my user name? it is currently anonymous.


  23. Did anyone see that episode of The Boondocks, where MLK turned out to be in a coma, and came out after thirty years?

  24. Hey, Daniel. Congrats on getting linked on IMDB today!

    Oh, and great post, too:)

  25. Welcome, visitors - and thanks, IMDb! (In an effort to expand the conversation, I submitted this to the IMDb hit list.)

    Good to get a viewer's insight on the "King" miniseries. I know the performances of Ossie Davis and Paul Winfield were lauded, and I hope to still see it. Fact is though, that was 30 years ago and it's no longer reaching an audience. If nothing else they should rebroadcast "King."

    Hmm, Ice Cube. Well I'm actually a big Anaconda fan, so sure. And Danny Glover in heaven - now you've for some reason reminded me of Carl Weathers as Chubbs Peterson in Happy Gilmore. Weathers, better known as Apollo Creed, could do an older version of King.

    Not a bad idea about the screenplay contest. A fresh voice might have the winning formula.

    Pukken1986, it's up to you lead the charge in Greenland. Isn't it actually cold there, and warm in Iceland? I thought there was some ironic fact like that. Anyway, I can't say I enjoyed Men of Honor, but I'd like to see Gooding, Jr. get a decent role, too.

    Interesting idea, Alex, but I didn't see that one. CNN actually touched on that, too.

    Speaking of CNN, their special on the King assassination last night brought up another excuse for the lack of a movie - the controversy shrouding the gunman. Well, so what? We already know how the movie ends, but that's no reason not to make it. The focus should be on his life anyway. I think Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) is working on a King assassination pic.

  26. Thanks, Mrs. Thuro! Always appreciate your visits.

  27. An other excellent article/post Daniel -- I thank you so much!

    My vote would be for Anthony Anderson.
    He is the master of a stunning range of talents. I can't emphasize enough how great he is on The Shield. And that show has so much great acting in it; you really have to earn your keep if you want to stand out. Anderson certainly has. Actually, Forrest Whittaker's nuanced portrayal in the season of The Shield that was airing the same time as the Oscars [in which Whittaker won his deserved Best Actor award] was much more impressive to me than his performance in the Last King of Scotland.

    I also agree that Chiwetel Ejiofor could be a good choice ... maybe. Although he is capable of wonderful work as mentioned elsewhere here, I didn't like his role in Children of Men, and really didn't like him in Four Brothers. I am a John Singleton fan, but why do I seem to be only one I know who thought that movie was beyond awful, and an utter waste of a potentially great cast and director? Ughhhhh.

    Anyway, I did think Ejiofor's role in Serenity was amazing. There is some controversy about it apparently, but in my opinion there is NO ONE else who could have possibly nailed that role like he did. Still don't know why that movie was such a failure at the box office; I think most people (not just fans of Firefly) missed out on a truly great film to see in the theater.

  28. I have no interest in seeing some assassination obsession film.
    You are right when you said "The focus should be on his life anyway"; I would prefer to see a movie about how he Lived.
    My vote for directors to do this would be Spike Lee or Taylor Hackford.

  29. I think we should be content that Hollywood has not chosen to exploit the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr. in order to make a quick buck. I, too, am surprised that we've not seen a major MLK biopic, but mostly because I'm sure someone has run the numbers and knows what it will be worth. Hollywood does history very badly. Sometimes you get a film like Ghandi, but mostly you get something that has little to do with what actually happened; focuses on things that don't deserve the attention; and often tosses history aside completely in favor of some writer's "vision". Movies like Memphis Bell are an insult to those who fought and died in the skies over Europe only to have their lives passed over in favor of "more interesting" fictional characters substituted in their place. I'm sure every studio, producer, director, and writer would like to put their stamp on a MLK biopic, adjusting what happened to make it more "interesting" or "accessible". All I can say is to be careful what you wish for, it may very well come true and you may not like what you get.


  30. Thanks, Josh. I actually didn't see either Four Brothers or Serenity. Heard bad things about the first and good things about the second. It's interesting that Ejiofor has already worked with both Singleton and Lee (twice) and Howard has already worked with Hackford. Speaking of directors, I've realized I totally left out Michael Mann (Ali - starring a number of the names above), and Scorcese (The Aviator). Their style is may a little too dark for King, but both movies are decent bios.

    Terrific points all, Charles. If only I believed Hollywood was decent enough to be holding out for those reasons (not wanting to exploit MLK's life). It's probably just too overwhelming for someone to propose. The two movies you mention are good examples of good and bad, respectively. There really are so many stories that, as you describe, get Hollywoodized and lose all truth and meaning. For that reason I think the most important elements in a future King pic would be the screenplay, director, and lead actor. Duh, I know, but all three - especially the story - deserve to be top-notch. Your last words are frighteningly true. In this case I'd rather have no pic than a bad pic.

  31. I think that a feature length thatrical biopic of Dr. King would be a wonderful thing, but also a very VERY risky project. The reason I believe that a film about Malcolm X was made whereas one about Dr. King has not comes down to one simple truth. Dr. King was then and is now a beloved and revered figure in American culture, whereas Malcolm X was a bit more controversial. Malcolm X was and I believe still is respected, but Dr. King is beloved by the public and has for many been deified to near sainthood. A biopic about Dr. King is much more risky because you have to get it exactly right, whereas Malcom X you just needed to get it 85% right. I think Spike Lee got it close to perfect, but even Ozzie Davis said at the time that if Spike Lee was 20 years older he probably would have made an even better film.

    As for casting, I think Mykelti Williamson is, in my opinion, the only actor to even consider. He is extremely talented and he looks amazingly similar to Dr. King. With regards to who would direct this opus, I think that Michael Mann would be a wonderful choice. Go back and watch Ali and tell me he would not be able to make this film properly. The movie Miami Vice was a bad movie, but you can also go back and watch some of his other films like Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, & Collateral. Now thats 6 movies that have garnered 12 Oscar Nominations between them 4 of those nominations were for acting.

    So there are my ideas. I hope you all like them and appreciate them. As you can see I have given this a good deal of thought and I truly do hope that when the time comes to make a film about the life of Dr. King it is does with the proper balance of reverence and humanity. As the original blogger noted, he was a human being after all. Then again, isn't that what made him all the more fascinating?

  32. I always wondered why a quality bio pic has never been done also. It's a shame it hasn't yet. The only actor of the list they gave that has the ability to play him is Ving Rhames. He looks the most like him, and is the best actor in the bunch.

  33. Im a writer who has been working on the MLK screenplay for the past two years for Miramax. All i can tell you is that it is in the works, a star is attached(and is on your list) and a director is attached. Film is looking to Film this year and is aiming to be released 2010 in the early summer run up.

    You will hear about all this, very, very soon.

  34. Today I had been thinking about the lack of an MLK film, too.

    I'm wondering if this is one of those projects for which you would be better to cast a relative unknown? Bring in some Broadway or West End talent who's got the pipes and charisma.

    To an American audience, the story might feel a bit fresher. His rise to Civil Rights icon might feel more "in the moment" than "historical reenactment."

    Take "Ali," for instance. Wonderfully made film, but it's very, very hard to get past the recognition that Will Smith is impersonating a boxing and cultural icon.

    Just a thought. And by the way, great blog.

  35. Great point about Malcolm X. Certainly it's the easier movie to make, and for how old Spike Lee was at the time (35), it's hugely impressive. Yes - Mykelti Williamson! My sleeper pick pulls a vote. I think he looks a lot like him, too, and he's unknown enough to really dissolve into the role, as long as he can tone down the Bubba. Michael Mann...great math on those great pics. Ali mostly stays with me because of Jamie Foxx's incredible performance, but I should probably see it again to fully absorb it. Thanks for your comments - I hope with you that a future King pic is handled appropriately.

    Ving Rhames the best actor in that bunch? Bold statement - I like that. The boldness that is, but not necessarily the statement...

    An anonymous writer! Well I hope my suggestions are taken into consideration in time. My hopes are raised if Miramax is actually involved. Don't forget the producer deal - I'll fundraise for a free premiere pass. So I picked the correct actor, but not director? Hope it's somebody who knows what they're doing. For that matter, I hope you do, too. You sure know how to leave a cryptic cliffhanger. Why would it be a secret, anyway?

    Alexander, your points are excellent - and I'm not just saying that because of your kind compliment. I considered the "unknown" but I guess I figured that whoever would have that much talent would already be known. However, I don't know my stage actors very well. A new face would definitely lend itself to a more believable movie, and Ali is a great example why. Same with last year's A Mighty Heart.

  36. Given the buildup that he is often viewed as some sort of saint and an African-American icon, I think there is concern that one would have to address his warts: numerous extramarital affairs, plaigarism, and the information that was notoriously sealed (due to the belief that it contains embarrassing information) in the late 1970s for fifty years.

    There could always be an Oprah-produced movie that might lightly brush on the issues, but I don't know how entertaining a movie that would be. The guy is a sacred cow that most cynics are afraid to go after for fear of a backlash.

    If the Miramax movie doesn't view him as a "sacred cow," it should be interesting and get people in the seats.

  37. Cuba Gooding, Jr. is the man.

    But if they ever make this movie, there will probably be a riot, shooting, or stabbing in a theater. So why not just skip it.

  38. I like Bernie Mack, but unless you grew up in South Central, you can't understand two-thirds of what he says. King you could understand.

  39. God, I am so late here, Danny I am referring to your comment about Mandela. I really hope The Human Factor is good and I hope they all get their accents right {unlike Catch a Fire}. It is about time a Mandela film is made, and with good people involved, I am hopeful.

  40. I think I'd rather drink bleach than watch an MLK biopic directed by Oliver Stone.

  41. BET has aired "Boycott" twice this year. It's probably on this week as a tribute.

  42. It'd probably get done the best directed by Spike Lee (though he'd probably want to cast Denzel). However, I think the best casting for MLK would be either Terrence Howard or Chiwetel Ejiofor. I think the latter could be the better choice, and I think he'd be able to put aside any accent fine. He did well in Serenity.

  43. I'd go with Chiwetel Ejiofor. Nothing against the other choices, it's a place you "go to" rather than a "role you play". Less familiar actor's are better for good films in my opinion.

  44. I don't think you can really make a call on this until you've seen "Boycott." It's a tremendous movie, and Jeffrey Wright is off the hook as Dr. King. It's one of the finest performances I've ever seen.

  45. I think this is an interesting idea for an article but seriously, you need to do some research and watch the movies and performances you are talking about.

  46. I think this is an interesting idea for an article but seriously, you need to do some research and watch the movies and performances you are talking about.

  47. Yes, Oprah needs to stay as far away from this as possible. I'm not hoping for a movie that focuses on his flaws, but as I mentioned earlier, he was a complicated, vulnerable man. His accomplishments will seem so much more impressive when we can relate to his struggles.

    "But if they ever make this movie, there will probably be a riot, shooting, or stabbing in a theater. So why not just skip it."

    Well that's nice and presumptous, isn't it? Ignoring what could be interpreted as thinly veiled racism in your comment, it's pretty bad reasoning anyway.

    I think Bernie Mac plays up his dialect a bit for his comedy acts. In interviews and his few dramatic roles I've had no problem with his speech.

    Yeah, Nick - Tim Robbins in Catch a Fire? Not so good. I haven't read "The Human Factor," but I hope Damon's character is American. Freeman is a great fit, I think. Have you seen The Power of One, by the way? It's my favorite movie - ever.

    Point taken, Donald. He would probably frame it politically more than would be necessary.

    Thanks for the tip on Boycott. I know it played last night but I couldn't see it. Maybe I can catch a rebroadcast.

    Thanks for the visit, Nick. About the accent - listening to King's speeches the last few days, it became clear to me that Ejiofor probably has the best tone and voice for this. I don't know if Howard has the oomph needed.

    It won't be long before Ejiofor is well known, so if it's going to be him it better happen fast.

    While Boycott might be great, BET and HBO don't reach as many people as a theatrical release and well-marketed DVD could. If it really is that good, just put it in the theater and I'll reconsider. However, is it more about the boycott than about his life? The focus may be too narrow. Yes, I need to see it.

    Gotcha, David - glad you like the idea if not the execution of it. I guess I really should have made an effort to see Snow Dogs and Boat Trip. Seriously, though - you're right, I haven't seen the two made-for-TV King movies, but I recognize them as what they are: made-for-TV movies. My hope is for something I can make a trip to the theater for.

  48. Yeah, Ejiofor is gonna be pretty well known pretty soon. He's acting in more and more these days.

    Though I have to say... don't write off made-for-TV movies so quickly. There's a Showtime Original Movie called Bang Bang, You're Dead... and I have to say it's one of the best and most powerful movies I've ever had the pleasure of seeing (and owning)... and it sucks that not many people know about it. It stars Ben Foster before he got really famous recently (and, in my opinion, is still his best performance by far).

  49. Harry J. Lennix could be considered too.

  50. Honestly, that list is horrible outside Chiwetel Ejiofor and maybe Terrence Howard.

    Here's my pick. Idris Elba. If anyone has watched The Wire you will immediately agree.

  51. I think Dave Chappelle is the man for the job.

  52. Good point, Nick. There are definitely some solid made-for-TV movies, but as keeps coming up - and you confirm - they just don't reach enough people (or as many as they could in the theater and on DVD). I was pretty impressed with Ben Foster in Yuma so I'm sure Bang was pretty good. I would trust Showtime or HBO over another network every time.

    Harry J. Lennix is an interesting consideration. Anyone would recognize his face but he's definitely not overexposed. I've never seen him with a mustache so it's hard to picture him as King.

    Idris Elba was mentioned about 20 comments ago, but you could have easily missed it. Sounds like a good no-namer if he can pull it off.

    Ha, Dave Chappelle...yeah...he's pretty much avoided even messing with King on his show from what I've seen. Maybe he could play a fired up activist or something.

  53. Will "personality quirks" of this media-created "hero" be covered in the project?

    FBI: King Bought Sex With SCLC Money

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation had for many years been aware of Stanley Levison's Communist activities. It was Levison's close association with King that brought about the initial FBI interest in King.

    Lest you be tempted to believe the controlled media's lie about "racists" in the FBI being out to "get" King, you should be aware that the man most responsible for the FBI's probe of King was Assistant Director William C. Sullivan. Sullivan describes himself as a liberal, and says that initially "I was one hundred per cent for King...because I saw him as an effective and badly needed leader for the Black people in their desire for civil rights." The probe of King not only confirmed their suspicions about King's Communist beliefs and associations, but it also revealed King to be a despicable hypocrite, an immoral degenerate, and a worthless charlatan.

    According to Assistant Director Sullivan, who had direct access to the surveillance files on King which are denied the American people, King had embezzled or misapplied substantial amounts of money contributed to the "civil rights" movement. King used SCLC funds to pay for liquor, and numerous prostitutes both Black and White, who were brought to his hotel rooms, often two at a time, for drunken sex parties which sometimes lasted for several days. These types of activities were the norm for King's speaking and organizing tours.

    In fact, an outfit called The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, which is putting on display the two bedrooms from the Lorraine Motel where King stayed the night before he was shot, has declined to depict in any way the "occupants - -of those rooms. That "according to exhibit designer Gerard Eisterhold "would be "close to blasphemy." The reason? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spent his last night on Earth having sex with two women at the motel and physically beating and abusing a third.

    Sullivan also stated that King had alienated the affections of numerous married women. According to Sullivan, who in 30 years with the Bureau had seen everything there was to be seen of the seamy side of life, King was one of only seven people he had ever encountered who was such a total degenerate.

  54. That's so honorably courageous of you, nameless friend. As I was saying:

    "As much as he's been celebrated as a martyr and hero, there have been those who've attempted posthumous character assassination as well..."

    Why stop when you did? Your totally anonymous hate-site has so much more to offer.

    I see at least one of the articles is a syndicated column by the late Samuel Francis, former contributor to Peter Brimelow's VDARE.com.

    Thanks for the visit, anyway. We're here to talk about movies, and I'm sure you'd like nothing more than the release of a Hollywood biopic about King to give you an opportunity to make a name for yourself and further your mission, whatever it may be.

    The King Center

    The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute

  55. Daniel G : Harry J. Lennix sports a mustache in Ray. With some extra pounds and a mustache, I think he would be quite convincing as MLK.

  56. I agree about an MLK biopic. But all of your suggestions for the actor are WAY off. The best actor (in my opinion) would be Clifton Powell hands down! look him up on imdb. He was in Ray with Jamie Foxx and he looks as close to MLK as you can ask for... Perfect. Your welcome.

  57. Thanks, Carl. I forgot about that. Turns out like half of this list was in Ray.

    I don't think the list is WAY off, but Clifton Powell is really a phenomenal addition. His character in Woman Thou Art Loosed was a complete scumbag, so it would be quite a change to play Dr. King. He really does look a lot like him, though, and I think he fits the other criteria as well. Good call.

  58. For the record, this was the final vote tally of the Getafilm poll that asked: "Who should be cast as Martin Luther King, Jr.?"

    Anthony Anderson
    11 (2%)

    Terrence Howard
    115 (31%)

    Ving Rhames
    12 (3%)

    Jeffrey Wright
    54 (14%)

    Bernie Mac
    3 (0%)

    Mykelti Williamson
    10 (2%)

    Cuba Gooding, Jr.
    54 (14%)

    Chiwetel Ejiofor
    79 (21%)

    31 (8%)

    Votes: 369

  59. A totally new face. An unknown person who just smashes the performance. One who will be to it like Jamie Foxx was to Ray.

    The actor you are looking for has not even been discovered. Not by the public at large anyway. He lives in Fayetteville, NC. He's somewhere in his 30's and sounds just like Dr. King. He sorta looks like him too.

    This man not only sounds like King but he recites speeches and sermons from memory. I saw him give a 30 minute sermon by King, word for word, without one note. He doesn't just recite the words but he uses the identical pitch and cadence of King's words. He can sit and have a conversation with you sounding just like the man.

    In 2005 He was given official permission from Intellectual Properties Management, manager of the King Estate in Atlanta Georgia, to perform the words of King.

    Spend 5 minutes with him and you'll be amazed. It won't be long before he really gets noticed. You have to hear it to believe it. His website is -thedreamlives.com- There some audio and video samples there.


    That'll be a 10 percent finders fee please...

  60. Wow, well thanks for that. I had no idea somebody was doing that professionally. I'll make sure to say that I heard it here first if and when the movie happens, and if any money comes through here because of it, well sure you deserve a cut. Somebody contact a producer...

  61. Don't think Bernie Mack's gonna get the role...

    I would love to see Jeffery Wright play MLK, I think that would be brilliant.

  62. I know, I thought of this when Bernie Mac passed away. I really think he had dramatic talent that we never got to see. Really weird to see that Soul Men preview with him and Isaac Hayes in the same scene.

    Well like I say, Wright played him in the HBO version ("Boycott"), which I have yet to see. I think I still cast my vote with Ejiofor.

  63. Enter Cedric the Entertainer. I originally mentioned him here as a second-tier possibility, but this new focus should elevate his status.

  64. I have been practicing and reading more about Dr. King. I would love the opportunity to be able to portray Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the new Biopic. http://www.hawaiiactors.com/profile/teddywells


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