Chiwetel Ejiofor Joins Steve McQueen's Upcoming Fela Biopic
Late last year it was announced that Hunger director Steve McQueen (not the actor) would next direct a biopic about the African musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who already has a Broadway musical about him (which picked up 11 Tony Award nominations this morning). In addition to that news, Deadline has confirmed that actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (left above - last seen in 2012 and Redbelt) has officially been tapped to play Fela in McQueen's biopic, titled just Fela. Ejiofor has already been learning to play piano and saxophone in preparation for the role and is taking this very seriously. Focus Features is developing.
Separate from the musical, Focus secured rights last year that include Fela's music and his life story as well as Michael Veal's book "Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon." For those that don't know, Fela was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of Afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick. James Brown cited him as one of the originators of funk. He had some 27 wives and was constantly under attack for speaking out against oppression in Nigeria. He died from AIDS in 1997. Ejiofor is one of my favorite actors, but he doesn't get many big lead roles, however this may give him the chance to really shine and stand out, maybe even earn him an Oscar nom. We'll keep you updated on it!