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Nelsan Ellis, known to many as Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s vampire drama, True Blood, has landed a new role. Ellis has been cast as Martin Luther King Jr.  in the forthcoming film, The Butler, reports

Directed by Lee Daniels, the film follows a White House butler as he serves eight American presidents over the course of 30 years.

Dr. King and other leaders involved in the Civil Rights Movement, met with former President Lyndon B. Johnson during a trip to the White House in January of 1968, four years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act. His first visit to the White House occurred in 1958 when he met with President Dwight Eisenhower, but he also was in correspondence with President John F. Kennedy before the commander in chief’s assassination in 1963, forcing Johnson to take over the post.

It is unclear which of Dr. King’s visits will be chronicled in the film.

Daniels also penned the screenplay, and is widely known for his other films including Shadowboxer starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Monster’s Ball which earned star Halle Berry a Best Actress Oscar, and 2009’s Precious starring  Brooklyn-born Gabourey Sidibe, who was nominated for Best Actress for her work in the film.

Filming of The Butler will take place in New Orleans. The project is due out next year.


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Photo: Sookie Stackhouse