If you already love David Oyelowo, you're about to love him even more. At Thursday's Critic's Choice Awards, the Selma star showed up on the red carpet representing the movie in one of the most creative ways possible. Oyelowo wore a jacket lined with the lyrics to Martin Luther King Jr.'s favorite song: "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," paying tribute to his on-screen identity on the same day that would've been MLK Jr.'s 86th birthday. And, although Oyelowo obviously has a great respect for one of the most important Civil Rights leaders, his feelings for MLK obviously go a bit beyond that — in fact, I would even say that Oyelowo is even crossing over into fanboy territory.
Don't get me wrong: this is not a bad thing. There are fewer people better to emulate than King, and I think it goes without saying that we definitely need more people of his character in our world. And if anyone was going to make that happen, it would definitely be Oyelowo. From preparing to play King and beyond, he's been bringing a little bit of MLK back to life for us in 2015 like no one's ever been able to before.
MLK's Friends and Family Are Shocked At How Close Oyelowo's Portrayal Is
It's obvious that Oyelowo is a good actor, but it's hard to play people who actually existed in history — especially when you know that people who actually knew the figure you're portraying in real life will be watching. But as far as King's family and friends are concerned? Nobody could've done a better job. In fact, King's son, Martin Luther King III, said, "He was able to capture the essence of Dad." Can you imagine a better compliment?
In fact, his ability to make speeches the way King did brought Congressman John Lewis to tears, as he'd seen King speak before him many times in person. Oyelowo's version of King was that close to the man himself.
He Got Tons of Inspiration from People Who Knew King
In preparation for the role, Oyelowo spent a lot of time with King's friends and family to learn as much as he possibly could about who King was, in the movement and when he was just home with his family. It's hard to imagine someone we learn about in school as kids as a real person who probably would've liked emojis if he was alive today, but in order to make his portrayal accurate, it was something Oyelowo definitely had to consider. He told The Daily Beast:
Early on the person I spoke with was Andrew Young, who was basically King’s right-hand man while he was alive, and an incredible source of information—the kind of source you can’t get from watching footage or reading books. I could ask him direct questions about the man and his day-to-day personality. With time, I became friends with Dexter King, Dr. King’s son, and a degree of trust was built.
He's Marching With Oprah This Weekend in Alabama
Oyelowo's support of King and his memory doesn't stop at his movie or his super snazzy coat — on January 17, Oyelowo will join Oprah, director Ava DuVernay, and other stars of Selma in a march in Alabama to commemorate MLK's birthday. How awesome is that?