On March 7 our sister site Variety reported exclusively that Netflix has acquired the film “Rodney King.” Directed by Spike Lee, it’s a one-man show about the man whose 1991 beating at the hands of LAPD police officers was videotaped and sparked public outrage. The officers who were charged in the incident were acquitted, which sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
Rodney King will be played by character actor Roger Guenveur Smith, who also executive produces the project. Smith has appeared in multiple Spike Lee films to date, including “Do the Right Thing” (1989), “Malcolm X” (1992), “Get on the Bus” (1996), “He Got Game” (1998) and “Chi-Raq” (2015). The actor told Variety that when King died by accidental drowning in 2012 at age 47, “I was struck with how much I was moved, how much this tragic figure mattered to me.”
Smith has played Rodney King on stage for four years, and before this he wrote, produced and starred in another one-man show, “A Huey P. Newton Story,” about a founder of the Black Panthers, as well as “Juan and John,” “Frederick Douglass Now” and “Who Killed Bob Marley?”
“Rodney King” is scheduled to premiere on April 28, which is not coincidentally the 25th anniversary of the verdict that freed the officers who beat King. It also comes one year after a pair of projects brought new attention to race relations in Los Angeles in the 1990s: the Emmy winning miniseries “The People v, O.J. Simpson” and the Oscar winning documentary “O.J.: Made in America.”