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Chris Rock Tapped to Direct Universal’s Martin Luther King Jr. Biopic

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Chris Rock is directing a biopic about Martin Luther King Jr. for Universal Pictures.

As reported by Deadline, Rock is currently in final talks to direct and produce a biopic about the life of Martin Luther King Jr. The movie will be based on King: A Life, a biography written by Jonathan Eig that was published in May 2023.

What is Jonathan Eig’s King: A Life about?

“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,” the description of the novel reads. “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.”

Steven Spielberg will serve as an executive producer for the film, while Kristie Macosko Krieger will serve as a producer.

While Rock is best known for his acting and his comedy, he’s directed a handful of projects in the past. He made his directorial debut in 2003 with Big State, which he starred in alongside Bernie Mac, before he then made I Think I Love My Wife in 2007. In 2014, Rock made Top Five starring himself, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union, and J.B. Smoove.

In addition to a countless number of documentaries, Martin Luther King Jr.’s life has been depicted in narrative films before. Notably, Ava DuVernay’s Selma, released in 2014, depicted the march that King led from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. David Oyelowo played King in the film, which was nominated for Best Picture at the 87th Academy Awards.