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Hugh Jackman and Lee Daniels working on Martin Luther King assassination film

Hugh Jackman will play William Pepper, an attorney who argued James Earl Ray did not shoot Martin Luther King

Hugh Jackman and Lee Daniels are working on a movie about the circumstances surrounding the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

The film – titled Orders To Kill - examines a conspiracy theory about the death of the iconic civil rights campaigner who, it is commonly believed, was killed by escaped convict James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968.

The X-Men star and director of Oscar-winning film Precious collaborated two years ago when tried to pull together funding for civil rights movie Selma, a historical drama based around the Selma to Montgomery Marches.

Following on from the failure of that project to gain leverage, they have set their sights on Orders To Kill.

Millennium Films will produce and finance the film, although a distributor has not been confirmed.

The movie will tell the tale of William Pepper – played by Jackman – an attorney who argued Martin’s killer James Earl Ray did not shoot him.

It will follow his one-man campaign to build support for his theory and is based on Pepper’s own book. Hanna Weg is adapting the novel to a screenplay.

Examining the assassination of such a eulogised figure in American history is sure to be a project fraught with sensitivities, but the big screen pedigree of both Daniels and Jackman are beyond reproach.

Daniels has just finished directing The Paperboy, based on the 1995 novel by Pete Dexter and starring Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Cusack and Nicole Kidman. The film competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival after it received a sixteen minute standing ovation on its premiere, the longest of the entire festival.

Jackman has just completed shooting Tom Hooper’s adaption of the Les Miserables opera – in which he plays lead character Jean Valjean alongside Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Russell Crowe.


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