Filmmaker Oliver Stone has his sights set on tackling the life of another historical figure. The Alexander and W. filmmaker is in early talks to direct a biopic about the life of Martin Luther King Jr., with his Any Given Sunday star Jamie Foxx in talks to star. The project is set up at DreamWorks and is expected to have the support of King’s family, unlike director Paul Greengrass’ long-developing MLK film Memphis, which provides a three-dimensional warts-and-all look at Dr. King on his final days. Hit the jump for more on this new project, including how it might affect Greengrass’ film.
News of Stone and Foxx’s involvement in an MLK biopic comes courtesy of The Wrap, which reports that the DreamWorks film has a screenplay by Kario Salem. There’s no word on whether this will be a cradle-to-grave biopic like Foxx’s Ray or if it will focus on a specific period in Dr. King’s life, but the film is expected to have the full support of the King family and that may go a long way to finally getting a Martin Luther King biopic off the ground. The involvement of Stone isn’t exactly promising, though, as the filmmaker’s recent output has been somewhat lacking.
Greengrass has been trying for years to get Memphis made with producer Scott Rudin, but the disapproval of the King family has made it difficult for him to get a studio involved with the right budget. That being said, movement on Stone’s picture might ignite a bit of a rat race should another studio decide to back Memphis, which really sounds like a compelling portrait of the historical figure and would come with high expectations given the intensely positive reception Greengrass’ latest film Captain Phillips is receiving.
Director Ava DuVernay is also developing an MLK film of her own called Selma with David Oyelowo (The Butler) set to play King, but the names of Stone and Foxx add significant degree of starpower to the DreamWorks project. Stone is just coming off of last year’s underwhelming Savages, but Foxx is enjoying a string of high profile roles with Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and a villainous turn in next year’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The actor is currently filming director Will Gluck’s (Easy A) reboot of Annie.
Should Stone and Foxx close their deals for the Martin Luther King film, I expect we’ll hear more news about the project soon.