Actor David Oyelowo, who played the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Selma, turns to a dramatically different role in Captive, where he portrays Atlanta murderer and kidnapper Brian Nichols. In the movie, which premieres Sept. 18 and is based on a true story, Nichols’ captive reads him portions of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life.
Oyelowo, 39, a British-born son of Nigerian parents, talked to Religion News Service about his Christian faith and his varied acting roles.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: You spoke of feeling called to portray the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma. How do you compare saying yes to that role and accepting the role of murderer and kidnapper Brian Nichols?
A: One is a man who is about peace and who is about justice. The other is about a man who has committed a heinous injustice against other people. But the reason I felt called to both is that both films, both characters in a sense, show the power of the grace of God. In terms of Dr. King, this is a man who professed love in the face of hatred, and in terms of Brian Nichols, this is a man that, even though he operates in a very dark way, God still used him, especially in the life of Ashley Smith, who partly attributes her salvation from drugs and a very dark life to Brian Nichols, who took her hostage that night.