After breaking his bonds and gunning down scores of Bible belt hatemongers and brutal slave owners in last year’s Django Unchained, Jamie Foxx may end up stepping into the shoes of a real-life freedom fighter for one of his next roles. That would be none other than civil rights leader and champion of equality Martin Luther King, Jr., marking the third biopic about the man’s life and achievements that’s now simmering in the developmental stages.
Incidentally, Foxx’s involvement also means a possible reunion with legendary filmmaker Oliver Stone more than a decade after they collaborated together on the 1999 sports drama Any Given Sunday. Stone, like Foxx, is hashing out his own deal with Dreamworks and Warner Bros. to take the reigns on their currently untitled MLK picture. At present, that leaves only multifaceted stage and screen talent Kario Salem signed on for the project, serving in the capacity of screenwriter.
The news comes to us by way of The Wrap, though mentions of Foxx and Stone could actually be less interesting than rumors about producer credits. Steven Spielberg will be throwing his considerable weight behind the film – always a sign of assurance – but there’s also a chance that members of King’s family (admittedly unnamed, at least for the time being) will be performing similar duties themselves. That alone should raise a few more eyebrows than run-of-the-mill casting and directing news; with two other movies about Dr. King brewing, what does Dreamworks’ and WB’s version have that their competitors’ don’t?
Reportedly, it’s truth. You may recall that Paul Greengrass’ feature, Memphis, ran into opposition a while back from not only King’s living relatives, but also Andrew Young, one of his most essential lieutenants and supporters in the Civil Rights Movement. Greengrass, so the story goes, cut a little too close to the truth with his vision, touching on uncomfortable subjects such as King’s infidelity in tandem with a veracious examination of the man’s final days leading into the fateful protest march where James Earl Ray assassinated him. Pressure from the King estate mounted so high, in fact, that Universal wound up dropping Memphis entirely. (This is to say nothing of Lee Daniel’s Selma, which hasn’t seen any real movement in ages.)
All of this is old news of course – and in the intervening months, Forest Whitaker has been approached about playing King for Greengrass – but it’s worth mentioning because it could provide a clue or two (or three) as to why King’s kin are considering throwing their weight behind the Dreamworks/WB film. The quick assumption here is that whatever the studios are selling, and whatever words Salem has committed to paper, the results have clearly pleased the necessary parties; that could mean a more reverential movie that’s less even-handed, or it could mean that the story handles truth in a way they find more palatable.
Either way, it looks like the Dreamworks MLK flick has gotten a pretty serious boost by their unofficial endorsement. The participation of Foxx and Stone, mind, shouldn’t be seen as anything less than meaningful for the film – Stone in particular has a knack for bringing political yarns such as this to life (think JFK or Nixon, or 2009’s W. if you must), and Foxx, who recently played the president in White House Down, certainly has the dramatic chops to embody all of the qualities that defined King as a person and as a hero. We’ll see where this one goes as it picks up momentum.
Screen Rant will keep you posted on further developments about the untitled Dreamworks & Warner Bros. MLK biopic as they become available.
Source: The Wrap