MCM: David Oyelowo


British actor David Oyelowo studied theater in college and premiered at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1999, where he’s best-known for his award-winning performance as King Henry VI in the history plays of the 2001 season. He began working in British TV and films, but it wasn’t until he moved to the U.S. that he began to get more significant roles. Some of the best have been historical, including one upcoming frock flick!



Dr. Junju in The Last King of Scotland (2006)

David Oyelowo, The Last King of Scotland (2006)

A small part in this film about Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 1970s.


Orlando De Boys in As You Like It (2006)

David Oyelowo, As You Like It (2006)

Where I first noticed Oyelowo, in Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespearean story with a vaguely historical Japanese setting.


Joseph Asagai in A Raisin in the Sun (2008)

David Oyelowo, A Raisin in the Sun (2008)

Set in Chicago’s South Side in the 1950s, this is a TV movie version of the acclaimed play.


Joseph of Arimathea in The Passion (2008)

David Oyelowo, The Passion (2008)

It’s a Biblical story, that’s all I got.


Muddy Waters in Who Do You Love (2008)

David Oyelowo, Who Do You Love (2008)

Portraying the influential Chicago bluesman in this movie about the Chess Records label during the 1950s.


Gilbert in Small Island (2009)

David Oyelowo, Small Island (2009)

Set in post-World War II London.


Preacher Green in The Help (2011)

David Oyelowo, The Help (2011)

A small role in the 1960s period flick.


Joe ‘Lightning’ Little in Red Tails (2012)

David Oyelowo, Red Tails (2012)

A fictionalized story of the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII. George Lucas funded the film out of his own pocket and had a hard time getting it made. David Oyelowo counts Lucas as a friend since this time.


Corporal Ira Clark in Lincoln (2012)

David Oyelowo, Lincoln (2012)

Oyelowo plays a soldier who puts some tough questions to President Lincoln.


Louis Gaines in Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013)

David Oyelowo, Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)

During the 1960s part of the film, Oyelowo is the main character’s activist son.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma (2014)

David Oyelowo in Selma (2014)

An absolutely stunning performance. You must see this film.

Selma (2014)

Oyelowo told NPR how he prepared for the role of MLKJ: “I studied his cadence to the point whereby you understand that sometimes he used very — to be perfectly frank — bizarre emphasis. … As someone who has studied his cadence, I know that it’s only if I hit some of his idiosyncrasies in terms of the way he spoke that you will overall feel like you are watching Dr. King.”


Seretse Khama in A United Kingdom (2016)

David Oyelowo, A United Kingdom (2016)

Based on the true story of the heir to the throne of Bechuanaland (later Botswana) who wants to marry a British woman, played by Rosamund Pike.


Javert in Les Misérables (2019)

David Oyelowo, Les Miserables (2018)

The obsessive villain in this latest, & non-singing, version of the classic.

2019 Les Miserables


Jack in Come Away (2020)

David Oyelowo, Come Away (2020)

David Oyelowo told The Guardian: “It’s a reimagined origin story of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, with them conceived as brother and sister. Angelina Jolie and I play their parents. We suffer a tragedy and our children use their rich imaginations to try and pull us out of despair.” No release date yet, but it sounds & looks delightful!



What’s your favorite of David Oyelowo’s historical costume movie or TV roles?

17 Responses

  1. Hazel

    Not a costume drama, but I first fell for him in the UK TV series Spooks.

    • Heatherbelles

      So did I. Danny!

      Danny, Tom and Zoe (with the addition of Ruth in the 2nd series) will always be my absolute favourites.

      I’d forgotten how much costume drama he’d actually been in!

  2. Roxana

    Oh yeah! I remember his Javert. When a man looks that good in period costume you don’t care about his color.

    • Melanie

      Oh, yeah! I rather liked the diverse casting of the latest Les Miserables. Oyelowo was not only a fantastic Javert, but the potential racist implications of a man of African descent living in 19th century France (which is historically plausible) adds to the inferiority complex that drives Javert’s decisions.

      • Roxana

        Alexandre Dumas is of course famously biracial. It doesn’t seem to have held him back.

        • Melanie

          Absolutely, but he was the son of a nobleman, which have him rare opportunities—and he still experienced discrimination, since he wrote a novel about it.

  3. Sam Marchiony

    I’ve only seen him in As You Like it and Selma, and I have to go with As You Like It. Problematic as the Japanese setting can be, his costumes as Orlando hit my sweet spot by being the kind of thing the Jedi would also wear. And I like me some Jedi.

  4. spanielpatter14

    I haven’t seen most of the films shown above; but I heartily recommend “Small Island”, a two-part (I think) miniseries that was excellent. It’s also where I noticed that Benedict Cumberbatch can really act (he has a supporting, but important role). I really need to see “Red Tails” if I can find it.

  5. Susan Pola Staples

    Mr Oyelowo is swoon worthy and extremely talented. My favourites are As You Like It, A United Kingdom and Selma.

  6. LadySlippers

    He is as talented as he is easy on the eyes (excuse me as I wipe the drool off my chin). Thank you for featuring this delectable man for MCM!

  7. Nzie

    Super talented. Loved him in Selma. Super curious about Come Away—definitely sounds engaging. Also just to note that he and Jolie are about the same age.. they’re also both gorgeous people but being gorgeous hasn’t been enough to get actresses of the same age as their co-stars cast before (although admittedly that’s more of an issue outside married couple roles).

  8. Lily Lotus Rose

    Of the movies listed above, I’ve only seen “The Help,” and I had no recollection of Oyelowo in it. I fell in LOVE with him in the lovely film “The Queen of Katwe.” Also, he is sooooo funny and brilliant in “Gringo.” Neither of those films are costume dramas, but they are very good. Honestly, David Oleyowo is so good and good-looking that I’d be mesmerized by him wearing burlap sack. And then in his interviews he’s smarter, more charming, intelligent, handsome, etc. Sigh! I had no idea he was in so many costume dramas, now I have so many more to add to my list. And “Come Away” sounds like a brilliant premise! Can’t wait to see it.

    • Lily Lotus Rose

      Oh, wait, I saw “Lincoln” too, but have no recollection of Oyelowo. I was too busy marveling at Daniel Day-Lewis and drooling over Josesh Gordon-Levitt.