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DAVID OYELOWO: ‘GOD TOLD ME I WAS GOING TO PLAY’ MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Thursday, Jan 1, 2015
AdMedia/Splash News
AdMedia/Splash News

By Amber Ryland

 

British actor David Oyelowo has starred in hits like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Lincoln and The Butler, and in an exclusive interview with Dish Nation the 38-year-old revealed how he got the role in Selma as Martin Luther King Jr. and who helped make it possible.

While dishing in the Atlanta studio with Rickey Smiley, Headkrack, Porsha WilliamsGary With Da Tea and Rock T, Oyelowo said he felt led toward the role of MLK while in prayer — and it’s a role that’s been in the making for seven years.

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“In 2007, God told me I was going to play this role. Literally, I was in a time of prayer having read the script it just hit me like a thunder bolt,” Oyelowo said.

“And it was very humbling because here I am a British actor who only moved here about two months before reading the script… That was the point at which I knew that it was somewhere in my future. And then getting to read about him, study him, talk to people who knew him and just the sacrifices he made for the freedoms we now enjoy, my admiration for him and that movement just grew daily.”

But Oyelowo needed help to make the film happen from a very important person — his co-star from The Butler, Oprah Winfrey.

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“She has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. We played mother and son in The Butler together, and like I say, this was a seven-year journey to get this film made. I phoned Oprah up and I said, look, mama we need you. We really need you on this one,” the actor said.

“She said, ‘I can see this in you. I think it’s part of your destiny. How can I help?’ And I said, we need you as a producer. She came on board and she literally was the difference maker.”

Selma also stars Giovanni Ribisi, Tim Roth and Cuba Gooding Jr. and while it’s a historical drama, Oyelowo says MLK was actually very funny in real life.

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“He was apparently an incredible prankster,” he said.

“And one of the things he loved to do was do your eulogy to you while you’re alive, sort of do your funeral for you!”

Selma opens nationwide on Jan. 9, 2015.

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