Chris Rock is in final negotiations to direct and produce a biopic about the life of Martin Luther King Jr. at Universal, a person with knowledge of the project told IndieWire.
The film, which will be executive produced by Steven Spielberg, is based on “King: A Life,” the new biopic by Jonathan Eig that Universal has picked up The New York Times called the “definitive” biography of MLK Jr. and the first comprehensive account of his life in decades.
The project is produced by Amblin Partners, with Kristie Macosko Krieger serving as producer and Spielberg as EP.
King: A Life was a NYT bestseller and a National Book Award nominee. The book uses new FBI information from previously untapped primary sources and hundreds of interviews. Eig presents King Jr. as a courageous but emotionally troubled man who called for peaceful protest but also grappled with his own weaknesses.
This is Rock’s first role directing a feature film since the 2014 comedy Top Five, which he also wrote. Rock also directed “Head of State” (2003) and “I Think I Love My Wife” (2007). He most recently released his stand-up special “Selective Outrage” on Netflix, the streamer’s first live streaming event.
Eig is the author of six books, including The Birth of The Pill, Ali: A Life, and Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig, all of which have been optioned and are in active development either film and television. Eig also served as consulting producer for the PBS series “Muhammad Ali,” directed by Ken Burns. Eig is the winner of a PEN Literary Award and a National Book Award nomination.
Ryan Jones, Universal’s senior vice president of production development, will oversee the project on behalf of the studio.
The book option was brokered by Lucy Stille at Lucy Stille Literary on behalf of the David Black Agency. Rock is repped by CAA, Untitled Entertainment, Yorn, Levine, Barnes, Krintzman, Rubenstein, Kohner, Finally & Gellman and Vision PR.
deadline first reported the news.