Ava DuVernay, the independent film director known for her two critically acclaimed dramas, 2011’s I Will Follow and 2012’s Middle of Nowhere, has been chosen to direct the Martin Luther King Jr. feature drama Selma, according to Deadline.
DuVernay was chosen by Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company to take over after the film’s original director, Lee Daniels, dropped out. It’s reported that Pitt and company went with DuVernay after watching Out of Nowhere, the film that made her the first African American to win the best director award at Sundance.
Selma is the project Lee Daniels was attached to direct, but the funding couldn‘t come together in time and he subsequently signed on to The Butler, which The Weinstein Company will release August 16 (though maybe not under that title). Daniels had lined up a terrific cast — Oyelowo, Hugh Jackman, Liam Neeson, Ray Winstone, Robert De Niro, and Cedric the Entertainer were among those who‘d circled. The actors agreed to work cheap and left schedules open. Jackman even gained 30 pounds to play Jim Clark, a sheriff who arrested King; he eventually had to go lose the weight to star in Real Steel.
Among the other MLK projects in the works as the 50th anniversary of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech looms this August are Paul Greengrass and Scott Rudin’s Memphis, about King’s final days.
Selma is one of several King-related films and focuses specifically on his efforts to get the historic Voting Rights Act signed.
Read more at Deadline.