Mike Fleming

Director Lee Daniels had long planned for David Oyelowo to play Martin Luther King Jr in Selma, until that film suffered a series of setbacks. Daniels instead just set Oyelowo to play the role of Yardley in The Paperboy. He’ll play a journalist who teams with another writer (Matthew McConaughey) to investigate a murder conviction for a death-row inmate (John Cusack) in Florida. It’s based on the Pete Dexter novel, and Millennium/Nu Image picked up the Pedro Almodovar-produced film during Cannes.

Oyelowo is about to open as the businessman whose greed inadvertently hatches an infestation of intelligent primates in Fox’s Rise of the Apes. Oyelowo, who got his start in the British spy series MI-5, also plays a role in The Help this summer. He is repped by ICM, Glenn Rigberg and UK-based Christian Hodell.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that MLK date waits for him. While I’d heard that King’s heirs put pressure on Daniels, the financing was in place with distribution from The Weinstein Company when Daniels chose The Paperboy over Selma and his other civil rights project, The Butler. Daniels also had a cast that included Hugh Jackman, Liam Neeson and Robert De Niro.

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