Your David Oyelowo playlist on internet TV
He earned his Golden Globe nomination for his role as Dr Martin Luther King in 2014’s Selma, but these days, it seems there’s nothing David Oyelowo can’t do.
The classically trained stage actor has proven that he can do justice by pretty much any role, in any genre, from playing an iconic villain in a classic-novel adaptation and voice acting as one of Disney’s most cunning baddies, to playing the late heir to the throne of Botswana to his laugh-out-loud turn as a straight-laced businessman kidnapped by a drug cartel and narrating one of the BBC’s most spellbinding docuseries,
Here are some of his best roles in shows and movies.
Adapted from Victor Hugo’s classic novel, this series breathes new life into the story of fugitive Jean Valjean who evades capture in 19th-Century Paris. Oyelowo plays the ruthless prison warden Javert, who’s on the hunt for Dominic West’s Jean Valjean.
He said he was initially reluctant to take the role of the villain, “But I read the script and there was all this layering there that i was unaware of.” (The TV adaptation also stars Olivia Colman as another villain, Madame Thénardier.)
A United Kingdom (2016)
The true story of the heir to the kingdom of Bechuanaland (now Botswana), Seretse Khama, and his marriage to white English office worker Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), which put the future of his kingdom at risk in the 1940s.
They married in 1948, and NPR writes that “their marriage angered nearby countries that were part of the British empire, including South Africa, which had just banned mixed marriage and was establishing apartheid.”
Speaking to NPR about his role as Seretse Khama, Oyelowo said, “They managed somehow to cut across and past the racial divide and it was almost as if, once they had fallen in love and were reemerging from that haze, that suddenly the reality of what they had allowed themselves to feel made itself known in the shape not only of familial opposition — both from Ruth’s family and Seretse’s family — but governmentally.”
Earth’s Great Rivers
Discover the extraordinary animals, astonishing landscapes and remarkable people found alongside the Amazon, Mississippi and Nile rivers. Narrated by Oyelowo, Earth’s Great Rivers is a three-episode mini-docuseries, featuring one major river per episode.
See the pink dolphins in the Amazon, the strange shoebill storks of the Nile and the tenacious coyotes who have learned to fish in hypothermic conditions in the Mississippi in winter.
In this crime caper, law-abiding pharmaceutical exec Harold Soyinka, played by Oyelewo, is sent to Mexico to deliver an experimental marijuana pill. But his life is turned upside down when he’s kidnapped by a drug cartel. Thandie Newton plays his wife Bonnie, Charlize Theron plays Harold’s tough boss, and her fellow South African Sharlto Copley stars as Mitch, the black-ops mercenary sent in to rescue him.
This role has been described as Oyelewo’s first comic outing, and he told The Independent, “I became associated with more dramatic roles and those were roles I loved playing, but I do have a silly side, and I was definitely looking for something a bit lighter. When I read the script, I really felt like I’d found what I was looking for.”
He plays Harold as a Nigerian immigrant, which he says he found interesting because his own parents, who raised him in Britain, are Nigerian, and he watched them “going through some of the challenges of being that kind of fish-out-of-water themselves”.
The Lion Guard
The first time you’ll hear Oyewolo voicing Scar in The Lion Guard is in the fifth episode of Season 2, titled “The Rise of Scar”.
Other guest stars include Renee Elise Goldsberry, Christopher Jackson, Common, AJ McLean, and Sinbad, alongside returning cast members Rob Lowe and Gabrielle Union.