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Newspaper Reporter Film Role Rewritten to Accommodate Talented British Thesp

Get ready to read and hear a lot this fall about David Oyelowo (pronounced “oh-yellow-oh”), the 36-year-old British actor who gained some prominence last year via The Help and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He’s got four films coming out in the next three months: Lee DanielsThe Paperboy (October 5); 2012 Sundance award-winning drama Middle of Nowhere (October 12); Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (November 16); and the Tom Cruise action drama Jack Reacher (December 21).

Oyelowo is very good in The Paperboy, playing one half of a crack Miami newspaper reporting team (together with Matthew McConaughey) that comes to Lately, Florida in 1969 to investigate the possibly wrongful Death Row conviction of a local man (John Cusack) for the murder of a town sheriff. The actor has a big fan in Daniels, who planned earlier to make a civil rights era movie with Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr. and has the performer in his next film, The Butler. From The Paperboy press notes:

Daniels rewrote the character specifically for Oyelowo, transforming the part of Yardley Acheman from a white reporter into a cultured and sophisticated black man, whose English accent helps him navigate the still largely segregated American South of the 1960s. “As a black man himself, Lee was very interested in how a black reporter in Florida in 1969 would have been greeted and how he would react in that situation,” says Oyelowo.

During a Sundance Q&A, Oyelowo recalled that when he read the script for Middle of Nowhere, “it was just like Do the Right Thing or She’s Gotta Have It. The characters just leaped off the page.” As it so happens, the actor’s other 2012 film release is the Spike Lee World War II drama Red Tails. A heck of a year on the big screen for this talented young Brit, who in 2000 became the first black actor to portray an English monarch in a Royal Shakespeare Company production (Henry VI Parts I, II and III).

[Photo courtesy Millennium Entertainment]

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