While director Lee Daniels (Precious) had put together a terrific cast for the historical drama Selma, the inability to find financing for the film may push the Oscar-nominee to make The Butler, another African American-centered historical drama, his next project. Butler centers on the real-life story of Eugene Allen, a servant in the White House over 34 years, who watched the eight presidents he worked for wrestle with and finally stem the tide of segregation. The first draft of the script was written by Recount screenwriter (and Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum) Danny Strong, but Daniels will immediately begin re-writing it if decides to do the picture before Selma. The Butler has almost solidified financing from The Weinstein Company, Pathe, and Skyline Pictures. Deadline reports that filming could begin as early as this fall and Daniels has reportedly approached Denzel Washington about playing Allen.
Hit the jump to learn more about the status of Selma.
Still riding high on his multiple Academy Award nominations, breakout director Lee Daniels (Precious) has been busy putting together the cast for his next picture, Selma. The movie will focus on the pivotal Civil Rights march which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.
Over the past few weeks Daniels has confirmed that Hugh Jackman and Lenny Kravitz will play key roles in Selma. And today MTV is reporting that Liam Neeson and Cedric the Entertainer have also joined the cast. Neeson will be playing President Lyndon Johnson, and Cedric will portray Ralph Abernathy, who helped King to organize the march.
The role of Dr. King will be played by David Oyelowo (The Last King of Scottland). The role of Alabama Governor George Wallace has not yet been cast, but is expected to be filled soon. It was presumed that Robert De Niro would play the role, but MTV says his collaboration with Daniels will likely not be with this project.
Remember how just last week we told you that Hugh Jackman was cast in Lee Daniels’ upcoming film, Selma, about the three marches in 1965 from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama during the height of the American Civil Rights Movement? Now, Vulture has the scoop about what role Jackman will be playing: the hot-tempered sheriff Jim Clark, who sparked international controversy for his actions. Jackman also seemed to realize that he had just inadvertently given them a major bit of news, as he said, “You’re the first person I’ve told, so I’m not even sure if I was meant to say that. So there you go, that’s enough trouble for one night.”
The Aussie actor, who hosted the Oscars last year, was a fan of Daniels’ film Precious, which he felt was the best of the year despite not winning Best Picture last weekend (it did however, win Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay). He also divulged what he thought of this year’s hosts and a story about him getting naked for acting class. Meanwhile, with the recent rumor of Robert De Niro set to play the Governor of Alabama as well, it is apparent that Daniels is quickly rising up the ranks of Hollywood directors. With shooting planned for May, casting news is going to be heating up so stay tuned for more.
Lee Daniels, the Oscar-nominated director of Precious, has cast Hugh Jackman in his upcoming civil rights film, Selma. Speaking to USA Today, Daniels celebrated that he had something to take his mind off award-season madness: “I have to really start casting the movie because we’re shooting it soon. The only person I’ve nailed in for sure is Hugh Jackman. It’s all over the place.” That’s interesting to note because in January Deadline reported that Robert De Niro was on board to play Alabama Governor George Wallace in the film, which is about the historic march from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery.
Daniels is currently working on the script and plans to begin shooting Selma this May. He’s also working to develop an as-yet-untitled series for HBO about a multigenerational, multiracial family in Philadelphia, for which he will also direct the pilot. As for Jackman, when we last checked his scheduled, he was set to shoot Kevin Lima’s comedy Avon Men in April and Shawn Levy’s robot-boxing drama Real Steel in June. I don’t know if there has been some shuffling with Jackman’s schedule or if he’ll have a very busy three months. At least he doesn’t have to worry about Wolverine 2 until next January.
Nikki Finke at Deadline may be fascinated with the comings and goings of stars between agencies, but her story about Robert De Niro leaving William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME) and returning to Creative Artists Agency (CAA) speeds right through the fascinating info about De Niro’s upcoming projects. Deadline reports that De Niro will play the showy role of infamous Alabama Governor George Wallace in Lee Daniels’ (Precious) next film, Selma, which is about the 1965 march in Alabama that was “the political and emotional peak of the civil rights movement.” Wallace famously said in his 1963 inauguration speech, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
Deadline also reports that De Niro is in “mid-development on another Midnight Run,” and that’s…interesting. The original is a fantastic flick that holds up today and is a touchstone of the action-comedy genre. However, I’m not sure how I feel about a sequel. I think there’s potential, but De Niro has been phoning it in for a while now. The only performance he’s really nailed in the past decade was his supporting role in The Good Shepherd. Other than that, his films have been mediocre to cringe-worthy. I hope that his upcoming roles in Stone and Robert Rodriguez’ Machete signal a turn in his career where he actually gives a damn again and showcases the acting talent we all know he still has in him.
Lee Daniels, the expert director of this year’s likely Oscar-contender Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire , is in advanced negotiations to direct Selma, a piece about the 1965 march in Alabama that marked “the political and emotional peak of the civil rights movement.” Christian Colson of Slumdog Millionaire fame and Pathé U.K. are set to produce. Hit the jump for more details and my brief thoughts on Precious.