Having most recently been playing it for laughs in Dads on the small screen, and A Million Ways To Die In The West on the big screen, Giovanni Ribisi is set to make his return to hard-hitting drama, with a role in the upcoming civil rights film, Selma – directed by Ava DuVernay (This Is The Life).
Focusing on the Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches of 1965 that were led by James Bevel, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and Hosea Williams, the film will include the infamous events of ‘Bloody Sunday’ – when armed officers attacked civil rights demonstrators on the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, as they tried to march to Montgomery. The impressive cast features Tom Wilkinson as Lyndon B. Johnson, David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., and Common as James Bevel, as well as Tim Roth, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Carmen Ejogo.
Ribisi will take the role of Lee C. White – adviser to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson – who was highly influential in helping to devise presidential strategies regarding the civil rights movement. After working in various low-profile, behind-the-scenes roles for JFK, he became the primary White House aide for civil rights, and a general coordinator between the White House, the Justice Department, and civil rights leaders. Mr. White later detailed in his personal memoir – “Government For The People: Reflections Of A White House Counsel To Presidents Kennedy And Johnson” – that he regarded his most important achievement to have been helping to push the Voting Rights Act of 1965 through Congress.
Lee Daniels was originally attached to direct Selma back in 2009, but instead opted to helm The Butler. Ava DuVernay signed on in 2013, and worked on the script with original screenwriter – newcomer Paul Webb. The project is being financed by Pathe, with Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions joining forces as co-producers, to help bring it to the screen. This highly anticipated dramatization is expected to reach US cinemas in 2015 – marking the fiftieth anniversary of the marches.
With this kind of talent both in front of and behind the camera, we can probably expect a Fall release during 2015, lining Selma up for contention in awards season. Could this be an early runner for the 2016 Oscars? Place your bets now.