Entertainment

Samuel L. Jackson to play Martin Luther King

Samuel L. Jackson will make his Broadway debut this autumn as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Olivier Award-winning play The Mountaintop.
Samuel L. Jackson, shown Feb. 13 in London, is to play Martin Luther King Jr. on Broadway. (Jonathan Short/Associated Press)

Samuel L. Jackson will make his Broadway debut this autumn as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the  Olivier Award-winning play The Mountaintop.

Jackson, associated with film such as Pulp FictionSnakes on a Plane and Shaft, made stage appearances in A Soldier's Play at Morehouse College in 1981 and the August Wilson play Fences at the Seattle Repertory Theatre in 1985. He also has appeared at the New York Shakespeare Festival.

The Mountaintop, by African-American playwright Katori Hall, takes place on April 3, 1968 the night before King was assassinated. The civil rights leader, a brilliant orator, was shot on the balcony of his hotel in Memphis, Tenn., Hall's hometown.

The Mountaintop debuted at Theatre 503 in London and then transferred to Trafalgar Studios in the West End, winning an Olivier Award for best play in 2010.

"The Mountaintop is a brilliantly conceived gem of a play — an ambitious work of fiction that is powerful, heartbreaking, humorous and exhilarating," producers Jean Doumanian Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions said in a statement.

Halle Berry had been tapped to star in the Broadway production, but has dropped out of the play due to her  ongoing child custody battle with ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry.

The show is scheduled to begin previews on Sept. 22 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in New York, with an official opening date of Oct. 13.

With files from The Associated Press