Oscar-nominated actor Colman Domingo has set his sights on a new project, a biopic about the iconic Alabama jazz legend Nat King Cole. In this musical film, Domingo will not only take on the leading role of the legendary singer but will also make his feature-directing debut, according to a Variety report.
The actor shared his excitement about the project during an episode of Variety's Awards Circuit podcast.
“I’ve been working on it quietly for a few years,” he shared. “It’s something I’m looking forward to putting together with some great partners.”
Domingo's connection to Nat King Cole runs deep, as seen in his previous work. He collaborated with Patricia McGregor to write the play Lights Out: Nat ‘King’ Cole, a theatrical piece that delves into the final broadcast of The Nat King Cole Show. This play, featuring Dulé Hill as Nat King Cole and Daniel J. Watts as Sammy Davis Jr., premiered at the Geffen Playhouse in 2019.
Nat King Cole, born in Montgomery in 1919, was a singer, actor, and jazz pianist. His significant contributions include hosting The Nat King Cole Show from 1956 to 1957, making it the first nationally broadcast television show hosted by an African American.
Despite criticism from civil rights activists for performing for all-white audiences in the South, Cole faced a pivotal moment in 1956 when members of the Ku Klux Klan attacked him on stage in Birmingham. This incident prompted Cole to become more actively involved in the civil rights movement, joining the NAACP and participating in the 1963 March on Washington. His legacy endures, with posthumous honors including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990 and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
Colman Domingo, known for his diverse roles, has a history of portraying figures connected to Alabama. His recent projects include portraying Bayard Rustin in Rustin, a civil rights activist with ties to Selma and Birmingham, and playing Cutler in the Netflix film "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom," centered around Alabama blues legend Ma Rainey. Domingo's Tony Award-winning role as Mr. Bones in "The Scottsboro Boys," a Broadway musical based on Alabama's historic Scottsboro Boys trial, further showcases his affinity for roles rooted in the state's history.
This ambitious Nat King Cole biopic adds to Domingo's growing list of notable projects. Apart from his involvement in this musical endeavor, he is set to play Joe Jackson in the upcoming Michael Jackson biopic Michael, directed by Antoine Fuqua and produced by Graham King and GK Films.