Chiwetel Ejiofor to play Fela Kuti

Director Steve Hunger McQueen has enlisted Chiwetel Ejiofor to play Nigerian musician-slash-activist Fela Kuti in a film about the performer's life.

Deadline (opens in new tab) report that Ejiofor is now “formally attached” to play Kuti in the biopic, which will use Michael Veal’s book Fela: The Life And Times Of An African Musical Icon as its foundation.

Kuti is famed for pioneering Afrobeat, for being a human rights activist, and for leading a life that involved everything from politics and music to drugs and hardship.

Ejiofor (perfectly cast) began learning to play the piano and saxophone while shooting Angelina Jolie’s Salt last year in order to bring an authentic feel to the role.

Fela’s story was also successfully adapted into a musical – titled Fela! – that received great critical acclaim, including eleven Tony nominations.

This film adaptation is particularly timely, considering Fela’s spirited, extremely vocal criticism of the military.

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Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.