He recently played a real-life (albeit tweaked) figure in The Butler, and Forest Whitaker seems destined to follow that up with another historical icon, entering talks to portray Martin Luther King in Paul Greengrass’ long-gestating pic Memphis.
Greengrass has been trying to get this one made since at least 2010. It fell apart early in ’11 when Universal backed out of financing it, and the director moved on to Somali pirate drama Captain Phillips.
But late in 2012, Greengrass and producer Scott Rudin were setting up new deals to get it made with independent backing and two companies – Veritas Films and Wild Bunch – agreeing to crack into their funds.
Greengrass’ script deals with the run-up to King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, when he arrived in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers. But it also follows the hunt for the man who was convicted of shooting him dead, James Earl Ray. And in addition, it aims to paint a rounded, human picture of King, as a man giving in to infidelity even as he became a hero. That portrayal caused King’s heirs to object to the movie’s ideas, which didn’t help its progress.
Now, with Whitaker seriously considering the role, things appear to be healthily back on track and Greengrass is looking to make this his next project, shooting in the docu-style format of United 93.
Captain Phillips, which features Tom Hanks as the real-life ship captain taken hostage, is sailing into our cinemas on October 11. Check out the trailer below.