David Oyelowo reveals pride at playing Martin Luther King

David Oyelowo

David Oyelowo

'Selma' actor David Oyelowo has revealed his pride at playing the role of Martin Luther King in the new movie.

David Oyelowo has fulfilled a "lifelong" dream starring as Martin Luther King in 'Selma'.

The 38-year-old actor, who appears as the iconic leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, expressed surprise that the Ava DuVernay-directed film is the first Hollywood release that puts the American - who was killed in 1968 - at the centre.

Speaking at the UK premiere of the new movie in London, Oyelowo told BANG Showbiz: "I have a lot of lifelong dreams. This was one of them, getting to play Mr King. It's ridiculous he's been dead nearly 50 years now and this is the first film centered around him. I'm just very glad it was me."

Oyelowo also explained the role came with a certain level of responsibility, acknowledging he couldn't afford to make a "mess" of it.

He shared: "It's different playing a fictional person, of course. I mean, the level of preparation you have to have, especially when you're playing someone as well known, as revered as him, you can't afford to mess that up. So yeah, that's all part of it.

"But for me, getting to playing Dr King was just a huge honour, because I do think he was an extraordinary person. But he was just a person. A lot of the time people talk of him as an icon, as an historical figure ... he didn't think of himself that way and our job was to show you the human being."

Following the premiere, 'Selma' stars David Oyelowo and Colman Domingo, and director Ava DuVernay, attended the exclusive VIP post-premiere event hosted at the luxurious One Mayfair in central London by beer brand Stella Artois as part of its Stella Artois Bursaries programme, which supports the release of standout independent films.

The guests enjoyed a breathtaking performance by the London Community Gospel Choir; whose rendition of the Golden Globe winning song Glory from the film's Oscar nominated soundtrack received raucous applause.


  • 5 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 128 min
  • 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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