For some years now, director Lee Daniels (Precious) and actor Hugh Jackman (The Prestige) have dreamed of developing Selma, a passion project involving the civil rights struggle in America. It looks like the duo will get their chance with Orders to Kill, a film that takes a new look at the assassination of civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The unconventional take on the historical tragedy centers on controversial lawyer and activist, William Pepper (Jackman), who has argued that convicted assassin James Earl Ray never shot MLK. Hit the jump for much more.
The LA Times reports that Daniels and Jackman’s Orders to Kill will follow Pepper’s one-man campaign to build a case supporting his theory that other interests (including the U.S. government) were behind the assassination. Pepper, who is still alive today, argues that King’s opposition to the Vietnam War was a major factor in the decision to have him eliminated. The film will be based on Pepper’s book by the same name, one that has already been adapted for the screen by Hanna Weg. A major climactic portion of the film will also center on the 1999 wrongful death suit of Ray, which was filed by the Kings and argued by Pepper; the judgement was awarded to the plaintiff.
Perhaps a successful run of Orders to Kill will help to greenlight Selma, a relative prequel or sorts that centered on King’s Alabama civil rights march. It would have starred Jackman as a racist sheriff who antagonized King, but the project was scrapped due to financial issues.