David Oyelowo’s stirring turn as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma was generally agreed to be an impressive achievement, worthy of effusive adjectives and awards. (Unless, of course, you’re MTV, in which case some guy from The Maze Runner gave a better performance.) It was such an indelible portrayal, in fact, that Oyelowo may have typecast himself as our foremost MLK make-believer. In an interview with Esquire, the actor reports he has been approached to play the civil rights leader again, this time by none other than Steven Spielberg.
I was at an event for AFI during award season and Steven Spielberg—who famously has been interested in making his own Martin Luther King film—came up to me and said, “My goodness, David, that’s one of the best things I have ever seen. You really inspired me to take another look at my Dr. King film.” And then he goes, “You would reprise the role, right? You would do it again?” My stomach all but fell out of my body. I was just like, “Oh, my lord.”
Perhaps sensing the impending rush of “he didn’t say no” stories, the actor made sure to really convey his lack of enthusiasm for the idea. “To be honest, right now, today I couldn’t think of anything worse. Just the weight gain alone is a reason for me to stay away from it!” That’s a similar sentiment to the one Oyelowo shared in our interview with him late last year. But Spielberg is famous for pursuing actors he wants for roles until they say yes, so Oyelowo might want to steel himself for the possibility. Of course, there’s the crazy idea that another actor could be capable of playing the role, but let’s not go crazy with this diversity thing—it’s already totally ruining TV, after all.