Selma Movie Poster

Trivia for Selma

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  • Lee Daniels was originally set to direct. The original cast included Hugh Jackman as Sheriff Jim Clark, Liam Neeson as Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert De Niro as segregationist governor George Wallace, Cedric the Entertainer as minister and activist Ralph Abernathy, and Lenny Kravitz as activist Andrew Young. David Oyelowo was attached to star as Martin Luther King Jr. When Ava DuVernay took over as director, Oyelowo was the only casting decision she didn't change.
  • Directors interested in directing the script included Steven Spielberg, Stephen Frears, Paul Haggis, Spike Lee, Lee Daniels, and Michael Mann.
  • After Lee Daniels left the project, David Oyelowo campaigned for Ava DuVernay to take over as director.
  • The Martin Luther King Jr. estate had already licensed the film rights for his civil right speeches to DreamWorks and Warner Brothers for a yet to be produced biopic. For this film, Ava DuVernay wrote new variations of those speeches.
  • David Oyelowo fought very hard for 7 years to get the role of Martin Luther King Jr. Lee Daniels, the original director, eventually cast him. Oyelowo convinced the producers that Ava DuVernay was the right director to take over the project.
  • Carmen Ejogo met with Coretta Scott King the first time she played King in 2001. King approved of her portrayal.
  • David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo are both Nigerian-British.
  • Some critics have disputed the film's depiction of Lyndon B. Johnson as a reluctant supporter of Voting Rights and an opponent of the Selma March. However, while it's accepted that Johnson was a strong ally of the Civil Rights movement, by some accounts (including those of Civil Rights leader, John Lewis), even with the pressure from Martin Luther King and other activists, his support of the march was with reservation.
  • Selma was screened for free at the Selma Walton Theater in Selma, Alabama.
  • Tim Roth grew up during the Civil Rights Era. He said he remembers George Wallace, thought of him as a "monster," and was "amazed at what was coming out of his mouth."
  • During their White House meeting, President Johnson implores Governor Wallace to consider his future legacy, saying, "George, you and I shouldn't be thinking about 1965, we should be thinking about 1985." Lyndon B. Johnson died in 1973. In 1985, George Wallace was still alive, and two years into his fourth and final term as Alabama governor.
  • In response to criticisms regarding the film's historical accuracy, director Ava DuVernay tweeted: "[the] bottom line is folks should interrogate history. Don't take my word for it or a Lyndon B. Johnson rep's word for it. Let it come alive for yourself."
  • Director Ava DuVernay and lead actor David Oyelowo's omissions from the 2015 Academy Award nominations sparked an outcry from moviegoers and Hollywood insiders. Their omissions have been credited to the lack of racial diversity in Hollywood. In addition, the film was completed at the very end of November 2014, so Paramount was unable to manufacture and send "screeners" to members of the Academy in time for all of them to see it before the nomination period closed on January 8th, 2015. The absence of screeners also accounted for the film's lack of Screen Actors Guild nominations.
  • In 1985, George Wallace received an honorary degree from Tuskegee University, the historically black university made famous by Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. Wallace had renounced his position on segregation and had made a record number of black appointments to State positions during his final term as governor.
  • Although she receives no screen writing credit, Ava DuVernay claimed to have done a 90% rewrite of Paul Webb's original script, including writing all of King's speeches.
  • It's not mentioned in the film, but Diane Nash and James Bevel were married during the time period covered. They married in 1961, had 2 children, and divorced in 1968 (the same year King was assassinated).
  • The movie's title comes from the name of the city, Selma, in Alabama, which is the starting place of the historic voting rights march shown in the movie.
  • There is still debate about whether Martin Luther King Jr. was right- or left-handed.
  • David Oyelowo's last scene to be filmed was the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. He immediately broke down into tears after wrapping the scene, to enthusiastic applause from extras and crew.
  • The screenplay was featured in the 2007 Blacklist, a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year.
  • The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Common and Cuba Gooding Jr.; and three Oscar nominees: Tom Wilkinson, Oprah Winfrey and Tim Roth.
  • Although the film is American and takes place in the South, the primary cast members are all British: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, and Tim Roth.
  • Ava DuVernay offered the role of Richie Jean Jackson to Niecy Nash after watching her in Getting On (2012).
  • Henry Sanders starred in Killer of Sheep (1978), a film that the Library of Congress declared a "national treasure" and one of the first fifty on the National Film Registry. The National Society of Film Critics selected it as one of the "100 Essential Films" of all time.
  • This is another film where Martin Sheen is featured as a judge. A previous film featuring Sheen as a judge is Dead Presidents (1995). Sheen is uncredited in both films.
  • The film was in development for several years, with David Oyelowo's name attached. It was not until he worked with Oprah Winfrey on Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013), and influenced her to produce the film, that the project was given the green light.
  • Max Greenfield was considered for a role in this film. He declined the audition, feeling that some audiences would be distracted by his presence, since his most famous role is "Schmidt" on the sitcom New Girl (2011).
  • Stephan James who plays John Lewis, has also portrayed Jesse Owens in Race (2016).
  • Six male directors had turned this film down before Ava DuVernay was ultimately offered, and accepted, the opportunity to direct.
  • Carmen Ejogo had already played Coretta Scott King once, in Boycott (2001). She had even married the actor who played Dr. Martin Luther King in that movie, Jeffrey Wright, although they later divorced.
  • The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year not to be nominated in any of the writing categories.
  • The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to be also nominated for Best Song.
  • The only film that year to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, but not at the Producers Guild of America Awards.
  • George Wallace formally apologized to the Selma marchers in 1995, the 30th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. John Lewis claimed he received a call from Wallace in which the former governor apologized to him and confessed his shame at having used racial demagoguery for his political career.
  • Both Tim Roth (Wallace) and David Oyelowo (MLK) have played antagonists in Planet of the Apes movies. Roth played General Thade in Planet of the Apes (2001), and Oyelowo played Doctor Steven Jacobs in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011).


  • When Coretta interrogates Martin about his infidelities, Ava DuVernay purposely had David Oyelowo give a long, uncomfortable pause before answering any questions.
  • The explosion in the opening scene is the infamous 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, which occurred in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963. The 4 young girls killed in the bombing were Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley.
  • Clark B. Olsen, witness to James Reeb's killing, died in Asheville, North Carolina, on 21 January 2019. He was born 22 June 1933 in Boston.
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