David Oyelowo's accent challenge

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 15 January 2015
David Oyelowo

David Oyelowo

British actor David Oyelowo has revealed that he continued to put on his American accent throughout the filming for 'Selma' even when he wasn't on camera

David Oyelowo stayed in character throughout the filming of 'Selma'.

The 38-year-old British actor - who put on an American accent for his role as Dr Martin Luther King in the biographical drama - has revealed how he kept the accent at all times even when he wasn't in front of a camera.

He shared: "We were shooting in Atlanta, Dr King is from Atlanta, revered in Atlanta - Martin Luther King boulevard, this, that and the other.

"You go and say [in an English accent]: 'Hello everybody, I'm going to be playing Dr King' - it's not so good for 500 extras waiting for you to give a speech so I sort of felt I needed to stay in [character] the whole time."

David took his inspiration from his previous co-star, Daniel Day Lewis, who he worked alongside on 'Lincoln'.

He added: "I felt I had to stay in character the whole time. Partly because I did this film 'Lincoln', I had a scene with Daniel Day Lewis - my favourite actor of all time - and he would stay in character the whole time. I felt like that was the blueprint of how to get this right."

The decision left David unable to talk to his wife, Jessica Oyelowo - with whom he has four children - when he was on set because she found it "weird".

Speaking on 'The Talk', he said: "It was weird for my wife though because we were moving house at the time and she called me once about curtains ...

"And then I said [in an American accent]: 'Well I think we should go for...' and she went, 'Stop, stop, we will do this after you wrap. I cannot talk like this. That's weird.'"


  • 5 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 2h 8min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Ava DuVernay
  • Cast: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth, Tom Wilkinson
  • UK release: 6 February 2015

The story of the 1965 civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, with Martin Luther King (Oyelowo) facing a nervous President Johnson (Wilkinson) and Alabama's racist Governor Wallace (Roth). Among a stellar cast Oyelowo is exceptional, and DuVernay and Webb capture both the greatness and the limitations of King's…

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