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Posted at 11:50 AM ET, 08/19/2011

Martin Luther King Jr.: Who should play him in a movie?


Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. | KING PHOTO GALLERY (MATTHEW LEWIS/THE WASHINGTON POST)

With the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial slated to be officially dedicated in Washington on Aug. 28, The Post is focusing quite a bit of coverage on the new landmark, as well as the legacy of King himself.

In that vein, Post film critic Ann Hornaday has written a piece that brings us up to date on the status of a major Martin Luther King Jr. motion picture, something that, despite numerous unfulfilled attempts, has never come to pass.

But prospects are getting brighter. Hornaday notes that DreamWorks and Warner Bros. are moving forward with a still-unnamed King project. Paul Greengrass (“United 93”) is hoping to direct a film called “Memphis,” about the last days of King’s life, while Lee Daniels (“Precious”) has temporarily shelved his movie “Selma,” although executive producer Brad Pitt says Daniels will eventually “get it done.”An HBO miniseries based on Taylor Branch’s book trilogy about the civil rights leader is also in the works.

Assuming that one or more of these projects happens, who should play King? Only one actor’s name is raised as a prospect in Hornaday’s story — David Oyelowo, currently seen in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and the guy who had been slated to star in “Selma” once that movie went into production. In addition to Oyelowo, here are some other suggestions and a poll allowing you to choose your favorite.

The Hollywood movie star route: Will Smith or Jamie Foxx

If someone wants to see a super well-known name or an Oscar winner in the role, these two guys seem like obvious options, even though neither is quite spot-on in terms of a King resemblance. Also, given their level of fame, both of them could be distracting no matter how well they play the part.

Anthony Mackie


(BILL O’LEARY/THE WASHINGTON POST)

A fine and committed actor, he could really break out if given the opportunity to play King. The problem, again, is the resemblance issue: Mackie’s a little too wiry to be King. Maybe if he beefed up a little, that would help?

Jeffrey Wright


(REUTERS)

He’s got the chops. He has features similar to King’s. And he’s got the experience: He played the civil rights leader in the HBO movie “Boycott.”

Chiwetel Ejiofor


(LOIS RAIMONDO/THE WASHINGTON POST)

The British star of such films as “Dirty Pretty Things” and “Children of Men” has the talent necessary for such a meaty part. And the more I gaze at him, the more I think he looks enough like King to make it work.

David Oyelowo


(VIA POP TOWER)

If “Selma” ever does get off the ground, Oyelowo seems like a reasonable choice. He’s got both the round face and intensity needed to convince moviegoers that he indeed has a dream. Conveniently, if anyone needs proof that he can be a reverend, he appears in “The Help” as Preacher Green.

So which of these options sounds best? Vote in the poll below, or add a comment to share an even better suggestion not already made here.

By  |  11:50 AM ET, 08/19/2011

Categories:  Movies, Movies

 
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