Saaret Yoseph is a writer and Assistant Editor at TheRoot.com. She manages and blogs for \"Their Eyes Were Watching …\"
In our minds, the quintessential King reprisal came by way of veteran actor Jeffrey Wright in the film Boycott. Wright's hue might be off. But The Root is above discrimination based on color, class or creed. There's no doubting this man's acting abilities.
Captions by Saaret E. Yoseph
Laurence Fishburne has a knack for portraying historical figures. He's mastered classics such as Shakespeare's Othello and did more than justice to Thurgood on Broadway. Fishburne possesses the poise and elocution to keep us hanging on to every dream, speech and sermon in the biopic.
Before Barack, Dennis Haysbert gave us hope with his portrayal of President David Palmer on the action-packed series 24. Haysbert's gentle eyes and commanding baritone befit the hero image that an audience would expect of King; the fearless leader who can inspire us to boycott … or buy insurance.
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Trained actor and tap dancer Dule Hill went from Savion Glover's understudy on Broadway to serving as the straight man to a pseudo-psychic crime solver on the USA series Psych. We're ready to see him finally take the lead. And Hill's positioning as a virtual unknown could work in his favor, giving viewers a chance see King anew.
Cleavant Derricks may have a natural pedigree for the role of King. The familiar character actor, seen in countless television and on-stage productions from Miami Vice to The Bernie Mac Show, was born in Memphis, Tenn. where King died and his father, like King's father, was a Baptist clergyman. The similarities in background and Derricks' physical resemblance to King should keep him in the running.
Don't let Laz Alonso's good looks fool you. There's a somber soul and intensity behind that pretty-boy smile. They were hard to find in the limited plotlines of Stomp the Yard and Fast & Furious, but Alonso's performances in Jarhead and Miracle at St. Anna reveal the quiet strength needed to convey King's struggle.
Producers should also check out another Miracle at St. Anna star, Derek Luke. He's best known for his starring role in Antwone Fisher. Sadly, his more recent turn as Sean "P. Diddy" Combs in Notorious could haunt him for the rest of his days … unless he plays King. Luke's clean, choir-boy looks will get him in the casting-call door, but his acting chops could make him a standout. The defiant dignity he's displayed in past roles is perfect for scenes of civil disobedience.
In The Great Debaters and The Secret Life of Bees, Nate Parker's youthful, yet soulful eyes pulled us in to America's troubled history. He can bend our emotions with the best of 'em. In the same way that King's cries for freedom could be heard from molehills to mountaintops, Parker has shown a knack for piercing speeches and professions of love. He may be the one to convince us that we are free at last.
London native Chiwetel Ejiofor looks nothing like King, but his acting prowess could convince us that he's the Queen of England. Taking on a wide range of roles in films like Dirty Pretty Things, Kinky Boots and Children of Men, Ejiofor charms us effortlessly. His innocent eyes and furtive looks hint at a hidden vulnerability, the kind needed to portray one man's complex struggle for equality.
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Yes, we know he died in 2004, but no one could match King's gravitas like Paul Winfield who played him in King, the 1978 television miniseries. Were he still alive, Winfield would be too old to pull off King in his younger years, but he would no doubt anchor this contemporary role with the same intensity delivered in historic dramas such as Roots and Alex Haley's Queen. We couldn't help giving this acclaimed actor a posthumous nod for the part.
We loved him as Ray, and he made a fine Soloist. But as King? Eh, not so much. What do you think?