Tim Roth Heads For Martin Luther King Film Selma

Playing Alabama Governor George Wallace

Tim Roth Heads For Martin Luther King Film Selma

by Owen Williams |
Published on

With competing projects by Oliver Stone and Paul Greengrass stuck at various stages of development, it's Ava DuVernay's Martin Luther King biopic that's moving forward fastest. David Oyelowo stars as Dr King in Selma, with Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson. They're now going to be joined by Tim Roth, who'll be playing the segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace.

Selma was previously in the hands of Lee Daniels, but he passed it to DuVernay (Middle Of Nowhere) last summer. DuVernay has since been overhauling playwrite Paul Webb's original screenplay, but given the title it seems safe to assume the focus remains on the historic civil rights march that began in the Alabama town in 1965. The protest, marred by violence, marked a turning point for African-Americans in their struggle for equality, and took three attempts before it finally reached its target, Montgomery, a town just 54 miles away.

The character of Wallace, it's safe to say, will be an antagonist in the film. Having lost an election to the KKK-supported John Malcolm Patterson in 1958, he took a hardline segregationist stance from there on, winning the Alabama nomination - as a Democrat - in 1962 with 55% of the vote. He labelled King a "pro-communist", although historians have suggested his racism was merely a pragmatic stance to pander to white Alabama voters. His heavy-handed attempts to stop the Selma march created national outrage and helped achieve exactly what King was marching for.

Roth, who just played Prince Rainier III in the hapless Grace Of Monaco, must be hoping there are fewer unintentional laughs in his next historical portrayal. The signs are good so far. Filming has been underway in Georgia since last month.

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