Regina King to Make Feature Film Directorial Debut Based on Real Lives of Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown

Regina King attends the 73rd Annual Tony Awards Gala After Party on June 09, 2019 in New York City.
Regina King attends the 73rd Annual Tony Awards Gala After Party on June 09, 2019 in New York City.
Photo: Bennett Raglin (Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: Regina BEEN King.

Now, the already well-acclaimed actress, producer and television director is sitting pretty in the director’s chair once again—but this time, on a film set. According to an exclusive via The Observer, King will be making her feature film directorial debut with an adaptation of One Night in Miami, a 2013 fictional play written by Kemp Powers. The film comes from Snoot Entertainment and ABKCO with Keith Calder, Jess Wu Calder and Jody Klein serving as producers.


From the synopsis, provided by The Observer:

On the night of February 25th, 1964 in Miami, Cassius Clay became the world’s Heavyweight Champion after defeating Sonny Liston in the ring. Following the fight, Cassius joins his three close friends—a singer (Sam Cooke), a visionary (Malcolm X) and an NFL Hall of Famer and future action movie star (Jim Brown)—in his hotel room to celebrate. They not only discuss their private lives but also the responsibility of being successful black men during the civil rights movement, as they boldly challenge each other to be the best versions of themselves. What happened in that room would change all of their lives, and the world, forever.

Color me intrigued as fuck. (Really, imagine that as a Crayola crayon. No? OK.)

King is scheduled to begin production with her crew in late 2019 or early 2020. For her work in film, King already has Golden Globe and Oscar acting statuettes to her name; will this put her in the running for a director nod? Given the plot alone, I could see it!

When it comes to casting, we’re all wondering who will be portraying Clay, Cooke, X and Brown. Twitter has a hilarious suggestion:


As The Root’s staff writer Anne Branigin added, “Give it the Eddie Murphy treatment.” Because why not?

But, in case you’re an actor reading this and would love to audition for Clay and Brown, The Observer snagged some character descriptions for the two:

Clay: 20s. A physical specimen with an unforgettable personality. The man who will one day be known as Muhammad Ali has just become the heavyweight world champion and now bears a massive ego on his shoulders as if it weighed nothing. His confidence has always been part of his charm, but Cassius has been considering something even bigger than boxing—committing his life to a powerful cause, and a higher power…

Brown: Late 20s to mid 30s. Built and powerful, with an obvious presence where he goes, Jim Brown has already made himself a household name as one of the greatest running backs to play the game of football, but he has passion for the arts as well. A long evening with his friends allows him to reflect on his desires and his position in the world—he wonders if he’ll always be used as a tool for white society, or if he can be who he wants to be…


Regardless, we’ll keep you posted on whether Chadwick Boseman gets four separate acting paychecks or real-life casting news as it arises. Either way, this will be a great addition to King’s already extremely prolific career.


Nora Morse

Is this going to be a 2-hour-long picture of people talking? The premise sounds leaden.

It might be more entertaining (and less didactic) to get these guys out of their hotel room and out into Miami on this magical night to run into some interactions that open their eyes to the protean weirdness of American life that upends simple certainties, about blackness and everything else.

I think Ms. King is splendid, but I’d have more faith in this premise if she took a Jim Jarmusch approach to what is basically a road/buddy movie.