Chiwetal Ejiofor To Play Fela Kuti

Chiwetel Ejiofor (“Serenity,” “2012”) is formally attached to play African musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti in the upcoming biopic in development at Focus Features says Deadline New York.

Based on Michael Veal’s book, the story follows the life of the late African musician and activist whose music fused American jazz, funk and West African drums.

His personal life was colourful, he had 27 wives, and tragic such as the personal costs for speaking out against oppression in Nigeria. Ejiofor has apparently been learning to play piano and saxophone to prepare for the role.

Though Fela is the subject of the Broadway musical “Fela!” which received 11 Tony nominations yesterday, the musical is not connected to the film project in anyway. Focus however has scored screen rights to Fela’s music and his life story, plus Veal’s book.

Steve McQueen (“Hunger”) is directing from a script he co-wrote with Biyi Bandel. Lydia Pilcher and Leigh Blake are producing.