Oprah Winfrey Agrees To Produce Paramount's Civil Rights Drama Selma
A couple of years ago, Lee Daniels was set to direct Selma, the true story of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marches from Selma to Montgomery in order to procure voting rights for African Americans. The killer cast was pretty much signed, sealed and delivered, with David Oyelowo as the leader, and a supporting cast comprised of Hugh Jackman, Liam Neeson, Ray Winstone, Cedric The Entertainer, Robert De Niro and Lenny Kravitz. At the very last minute, funding fell through, and Daniels moved on to other projects, stranding Selma.
Eventually the project rose from the ashes, with Oyelowo still attached to star. And now there’s some money to play with: Deadline reports that Paramount has purchased the domestic rights to the film and that a start date is imminent. Not only that, but there’s some serious muscle on the producing side: here comes Oprah Winfrey to save the day on the long-in-development project. The production has retained Oyelowo to star four years after his initial commitment to the project, and will be directed by Ava DuVernay. The little-known DuVernay, who also rewrote the project, previously helmed Middle Of Nowhere, a touching low budget romantic drama that also featured Oyelowo.
There’s reason to believe Winfrey would have been involved with Daniels’ version as well, given their close working relationship. Winfrey previously produced Daniels’ Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire, and Winfrey had her best role in ages in Lee Daniels’ The Butler as the boozy, life-of-the-party wife of Cecil Gaines. Given the film’s still-low profile, the fact that Lee Daniels’ The Butler grossed $167 million worldwide, and the very idea that Oprah is OPRAH, you can assume there’s a strong possibility she’ll be in front of the camera for this one as well.
Speaking of which, Oyelowo has been starved for his big breakout role, and this could be it. The 38 year old actor never got to be King for Daniels, though the director retained him for standout parts in The Paperboy and The Butler, where he aged onscreen around fifty years (and not too convincingly!). He’s also got roles coming up in J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year and Chris Nolan’s Interstellar, which will make him considerably more recognizable when he gets in front of the camera as King. This is a pivotal historical period for King, and Oyelowo should have plenty to work with in bringing the civil rights leader to the screen. This film will beat out two other previously announced projects, giving a considerable boost to Oyelowo in being the screen’s definitive cinematic King. Though, in all fairness, Jeffrey Wright did a fine job himself on HBO’s Boycott a few years back. Check him out below.
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