Last November, we learned that Lupita Nyong’o will star in Mira Nair’s next film, which will be based on the book "Queen of Katwe," by Tim Crothers.
We can now likely add David Oyelowo to the cast, as the actor is said to be in negotiations to join Lupita in the project, which would make this the second film they plan to make together – the first also being an adaptation of a book: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s "Americanah."
Nair’s interest in the book’s adaptation was first reported on this site 2 years ago, when, in an interview with Newsweek Pakistan, she revealed that she was working on a film on Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi.
Nair shared that the project was set up at Disney, although she didn’t give any further information on it – like how far along in the production process she was, or when the film can be expected.
Also known as "The Queen of Katwe," which is what the film is currently titled, Mutesi’s story was the inspiration for a book by Tim Crothers, fully titled, "The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster." She’s also been the subject of short documentaries and news reports, capturing her inspiring story. I embedded one of them at the bottom of this post.
No ETA on the project yet, although Deadline says that a spring shoot date is planned.
I’m anxious to see what Ms Nair is cooking up here. I smell what could be another potential Oscar nomination for Lupita. It reads like that kind of project. And with Disney’s backing, I’m assuming it won’t go unnoticed.
Both she and David Oyelowo are in very rare air right now, capturing the right kind of attention, being in demand, and having the ability to actually be choosy. With a lucrative, long-term Lancôme contract inked, Lupita is very likely not struggling for cash right now, and so, can probably afford to be selective about the projects she decides to take on. And so far, one could say she has. She certainly could’ve parlayed her Oscar win into a myriad of roles, in a million movies (I’d like to believe she’s been offered quite a few roles since "12 Years a Slave"); but she’s been picky in terms of projects and filmmakers she works with.
Oyelowo doesn’t have a long-term contract with Lancôme, but he’s definitely busy, and, with the strong buzz he’s been receiving for his star-turn in "Selma," (with a Golden Globe and likely Oscar nomination on the horizon), it will surely translate to even more starring roles, in even more high profile projects, for the actor.
If you’d like to buy Tim Crothers’ book, click here.
Here’s a short documentary on Phiona Mutesi: