Steven Spielberg announced this week that he will produce a big screen biopic on civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. No director or star has been announced yet, but we’re impatient, so we’re going to see if we can speed things along with some suggestions. Who do you think should play Dr. King? My top pick: Jeffrey Wright, who burst onto the national scene in 1996 playing painter Jean Michel Basquiat in Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat, and has been wowing us ever since with dazzling, transformative performances in movies like Syriana, The Manchurian Candidate, and most recently as Colin Powell in Oliver Stone’s W. He even played King once before, in the HBO movie, Boycott, in 2001, and it would be great to see this character actor get his chance to really shine in a huge, Oscar-bait role. First Runner Up: Chiwetel Ejiofor. The British actor isn’t exactly a household name – and with a name like that, he may never be – but if you’ve seen Children of Men or American Gangster, or Inside Man, you’ve seen him command the screen alongside some pretty big guns, including Denzel Washington. Like Washington, Ejiofor exudes a grace and gravitas on screen that could easily translate to a powerful portrayal of King.
Why not Will Smith? Too famous now to disappear inside the role, I fear. Plus, he’s already played Ali, and he has to save himself to play Barack Obama in 20 years. Idris Elba? The Wire star is, frankly, way too good looking. Sorry, dude. Taye Diggs? Ditto. Don Cheadle? Fantastic actor, but hard to picture him physically as King. Forest Whitaker? Again, stellar actor, but he feels like the wrong body type, too. Jamie Foxx? That just seems wrong on so many levels. But enough about me. What do you think Popwatchers? Who would you like to see take on the greatest civil rights leader in modern American history? Who could deliver that “I Have A Dream” speech and make you believe it?