DreamWorks has tapped playwright and screenwriter Ronald Harwood to pen its Martin Luther King Jr. biopic.
DreamWorks acquired the life rights of the slain civil rights leader in May, with Steven Spielberg, Suzanne de Passe and Madison Jones producing (Variety May 19, 2009).
Project marks the first bigscreen film to be authorized by King's estate and gives DreamWorks access to King's intellectual property -- including his "I Have a Dream" speech.
Harwood, who won an Oscar for penning "The Pianist," explained how he will approach the project: "I will not say anything about my approach to this screenplay except to say what I always say: 'I will do my utmost to be true to truth.'"
DreamWorks co-presidents of production Mark Sourian and Holly Bario praised Harwood for the breadth of his experience, which make "him particularly suited to portraying this deeply personal story against the background of such a turbulent time."
One of the most critically lauded contemporary playwrights and screenwriters, Harwood is known for a career-long fascination with themes surrounding race, conscience and moral choices as well as history.
His credits also include "The Dresser," which lifted the curtain on backstage life in a World War II theater, and for adapting "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly."
Harwood, a South Africa native, has also written extensively about apartheid, including the films "Mandela," written while the future South African leader was still in prison, and an adaptation of Alan Paton's classic "Cry the Beloved Country." He has also penned two anti-apartheid novels and two such plays ("Tramway Road," "Another Time.")His theater credits also include a 2008 stage revival of "Taking Sides," which was paired with his newest play, "Collaboration," about the conduct of composer Richard Strauss during the Third Reich.