Cuba Gooding Jr. has joined a cast that includes David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Colman Domingo and Carmen Ejogo in the Martin Luther King biopic SELMA from THIS IS THE LIFE director Ava DuVernay. The actor, no stranger to a historical drama having portrayed a fellow White House Butler alongside Forrest Whitaker in LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER, will play Fred Gray alongside Oyelowo’s MLK.
Gray became known for working alongside Martin Luther King during the 1965 voting rights campaign. A civil rights attorney, he defended Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a bus and also got Dr King acquitted by an all-white jury in 1960 on charges of tax evasion. The script, originally written by Paul Webb, has been re-written by DuVernay.
Last year saw the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s infamous ‘I have a Dream’ speech. Dr King is a pretty hot topic in Hollywood right now; alongside this project there is also a HBO mini series in the works from the creator of The Wire. America: In The King Years is based on the popular book trilogy by Pulitzer Prize winning author Taylor Branch and both projects have Oprah Winfrey’s production company Harpo Films as backers.
Biographies of American history are generally met with high anticipation due to the nature of the stories being told; often highly emotional and thought-provoking. Unfortunately they don’t always meet those expectations and we’ll have to wait and see whether we’ve got another 12 YEARS A SLAVE or MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM on our hands.