Here is an intriguing combination of filmmaker and subject. Chris Rock is reportedly in talks to direct a biopic about the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The film would be based on the 2023 biography, King: A Life by Jonathan Eig, and the movie will also be executive produced by Steven Spielberg through his Amblin Partners company. That’s quite a combo, all in all.

Here is the official synopsis of Eig’s Martin Luther King Jr. biography:

Vividly written and exhaustively researched, Jonathan Eig’s King: A Life is the first major biography in decades of the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.—and the first to include recently declassified FBI files. In this revelatory new portrait of the preacher and activist who shook the world, the bestselling biographer gives us an intimate view of the courageous and often emotionally troubled human being who demanded peaceful protest for his movement but was rarely at peace with himself. He casts fresh light on the King family’s origins as well as MLK’s complex relationships with his wife, father, and fellow activists. King reveals a minister wrestling with his own human frailties and dark moods, a citizen hunted by his own government, and a man determined to fight for justice even if it proved to be a fight to the death. As he follows MLK from the classroom to the pulpit to the streets of Birmingham, Selma, and Memphis, Eig dramatically re-creates the journey of a man who recast American race relations and became our only modern-day founding father—as well as the nation’s most mourned martyr.

 

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Although best known as a standup comic and actor, Rock has directed several movies; most recently the semi-autobiographical Top Five in 2014. His other movies include I Think I Love My Wife, which was a remake of the Eric Rohmer film Love in the Afternoon. Still, a biopic of King would mark his most serious (and almost certainly most ambitious) work as a director to date.

King has been the subject of several films in the past; the most recent major fictional work about him was 2014’s Selma, which became a breakthrough hit for director Ava DuVernay and starred David Oyelowo as King. In 2020, a documentary called MLK/FBI documented the previously classified history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of King. (Eig’s book draws in part on the same declassified FBI records.) Rock’s film has yet to cast an actor to play King.

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