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David Oyelowo talks about reteaming with Lee Daniels for The Butler

One of the stars of Cannes-bound The Paperboy will next shoot Channel 4 drama Complicit.

David Oyelowo will be in New York City this week working with director Lee Daniels to test actresses “for chemistry” to play his love interest in The Butler.

Oyelowo will reteam with Daniels after Cannes-bound The Paperboy for The Butler, which will star Forest Whitaker as a White House butler who served eight presidents. Oprah Winfrey will play Whitaker’s wife, and Oyelowo plays his son. Laura Ziskin is producing.

“It’s really about the birth of the civil rights era in this country,” Oyelowo told Screen.

In The Paperboy he plays a one of a pair (with Matthew McConaughey) of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists in Florida who investigate the case of a man who may or may not be guilty of murder. “It’s a sexual, character-driven thriller,” Oyeleowo noted.

He had been set to play Martin Luther King Jr in Daniels’ Selma, which was shelved. “He was very determined to work with me,” Oyelowo says of Daniels. “This character [in The Paperboy] was originally written as a white man, but he changed it for me. “ The actor said Daniels is “phenomenal, his pursuit of the truth is relentless.”

Before shooting The Butler, London-born Oyelowo, who lives mostly in Los Angeles now, will next shoot single drama Complicit for Channel 4. Niall MacCormick (Albatross) directs from a script by Guy Hibbert (Omagh).

“It’s about the politics of torture within MI5,” says the actor. “About that thin line that MI5 officers have to straddle in the wake of Guantanamo.”

Oyelowo was speaking to Screen this weekend at the RiverRun International Film Festival in North Carolina, where he accepted one of the festival’s new Spark Awards for rising talents.

Although he has been working since 1998 (and was a Screen Internaional Star of Tomorrow in 2005), he said the up-and-coming honour is still a good thing. “The minute the entertainment industry can define you and the minute you’ve ‘arrived’ you’re kind of on your way down. I mix studio work with independent films and plays, that’s why I’ve been up-and-coming for so long.” His recent work has ranged from Sundance 2012 award winner Middle of Nowhere to blockbuster Rise of The Planet of the Apes. He also appears in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Lincoln and opposite Tom Cruise in One Shot.

Oyelowo also noted that he is writing scripts and hopes to direct at some point.

 “To create content as well as be in it is the next hurdle.”

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