Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Exclusive: Liam Neeson May Finally Be LBJ in “Selma” with David Oyelowo


“Selma” was the movie Lee Daniels was trying to put together until “The Butler” set his silver tray down in Daniels’ lap. The rest will be history when “The Butler” opens August 16th.

So what happened to “Selma”? Ava Duvernay, whose debut “Middle of Nowhere” was an indie hit in 2012, is taking over.

“Butler” star David Oyelowo, who plays Forest Whitaker’s son with breadth and imagination in the Daniels film, is set to play Martin Luther King. And I can tell you that Liam Neeson, originally thought of to play Lyndon Johnson when “Selma” was Lee Daniels’ movie, will indeed get that chance. Some of the other actors from Daniels’ cast list, like Robert DeNiro and Hugh Jackman, may be signing up as well.

Duvernay is making a name for herself as a director but when I met her she was Jennifer Hudson’s publicist on “Dreamgirls.” So brava for her. And Oyelowo is a 37 year old overnight sensation. Just watch him get a nomination for Best Supporting Actor in “The Butler.” His character, Louis, drives the story as he experiences the entire civil rights movement.

All these civil rights roles are something of a learning experience for Oyelowo. Even though he carries off a perfect American accent, he is quite British you know, and grew up in London. Six years of living in Los Angeles has helped make him sound and act more American. Tis a pity, I’m sure.

Filming for “Selma” is supposed to begin right after the new year in January 2014.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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