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David Oyelowo Says Lee Daniels’ Aborted ‘Selma’ Is Still Happening

David Oyelowo Says Lee Daniels' Aborted 'Selma' Is Still Happening

With roles in “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” and “The Help” last year, David Oyelowo has maintained a high level of visibility, and that’s bound to continue into 2012 as he re-surfaces in next weekend’s “Red Tails,” “The Paperboy” and “Lincoln,” with the Tom Cruise vehicle “One Shot,” already slated for 2013. But his star would have rocketed to a distinctly different level had shooting not been scuttled on “Selma,” Lee Daniels‘ (“Precious“) planned film about the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march. Oyelowo was set to star as Martin Luther King Jr. in a cast that would have included Robert DeNiro, Hugh Jackman and Liam Neeson.

Much of the talk centered around possible funding issues, but apparently The Weinstein Company were ready to bankroll the film. Unfortunately, King’s estate had major qualms about the script, likely playing an important factor in causing the film to push pause (the estate’s protective nature also quashed Paul Greengrass‘ planned “Memphis“). But to hear Oyelowo talk about it, the film is threatening to return to life sometime soon. Oyelowo appears in Lee Daniels’ next film, “The Paperboy,” apparently sowing the seeds for their further collaboration. “Indicative of mine and Lee’s desire to work together is us going on to do ‘The Paperboy’ together instead,” Oyelowo says, “and him re-writing a character that was a white character, for me.”

Oyelowo goes on to explain the project “isn’t dead by any means,” adding, “We also felt, you know, we’re going to make [‘Selma’] one day, let’s get this collaborative energy going, let’s start creating a collaborative relationship. I know it will happen in its good time. That’s not a role you want to rush.” And Oyelowo was more than prepared. “We came very very close to shooting it. I gained fifteen odd pounds and still had another ten to go. And then it wasn’t happening for a myriad of reasons.” While he hopes to step in the famous Dr.’s shoes once again, he’s learned to be more hesitant about the changing waves of Hollywood, laughing, “I will probably wait for the money to be in the bank next time before I enthusiastically down the pizzas.”

“Red Tails” opens January 20th.

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