David Oyelowo: 'Selma Was a Spiritual Endeavor For Me'
Image: Atsushi Nishijima / Paramount Pictures
David Oyelowo in 'Selma'

If you head out to see Selma this weekend and have the sneaking suspicion that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. looks awfully familiar, you wouldn't be wrong. David Oyelowo, who plays the civil rights leader in the film, is everywhere this year—from roles in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar and J. C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year to his major role as King.

What you might not know is that Oyelowo is also an outspoken Christian whose faith played a major part on the set of Selma and in his career. He and his wife Jessica moved from their native England to Los Angeles in 2007, where they live now with their four children.

Oyelowo, who is gracious and humble, spoke with CT by phone about praying on set, feeling God's presence, playing an icon as a real human, how acting can be a calling, and why Christians ought to see Selma.

The film opened in limited markets on Christmas Day, and opens wide tomorrow, January 9. Alissa reviewed it for CT. And Ken Morefield, who regularly contributes to CT Movies, wrote about his set visit and roundtable discussion with co-star Wendell Pierce at his blog.

You've said in other places that you felt God's strong hand on you over the years since you first read the Selma script. Can you tell us a little about that?

On the 24th of July, 2007, God told me that I was going to play Dr. King in this film. The reason I know the date is that it was a real surprise to me. I'm not American, I'm from England, and I'd only just moved from America two months before reading the script. The idea that I would be the one to play Dr. King was, to be honest, a bit shocking to me.

But I do know God's voice. I became a born-again Christian at the age of 16, and my ...

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Watch This Way
How we watch matters at least as much as what we watch. TV and movies are more than entertainment: they teach us how to live and how to love one another, for better or worse. And they both mirror and shape our culture.
Alissa Wilkinson
Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.
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David Oyelowo: 'Selma Was a Spiritual Endeavor For Me'
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