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Colman Domingo to Direct and Star in Nat King Cole Biopic (EXCLUSIVE)

Colman Domingo is already unforgettable, but now he’ll tackle the role to prove it.

Domingo will be starring as the legendary singer Nat King Cole in a movie musical from a script he co-wrote, Variety has learned exclusively. He will also be making his feature directing debut on the project.

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“I’ve been working on it quietly for a few years,” he says during Variety Awards Circuit Podcast episode. “It’s something I’m looking forward to putting together with some great partners.”

It’s not yet known which period Domingo’s film will focus on. One of the most notable moments of his life was on April 10, 1956: while performing before an all-white audience in Birmingham, Ala., a group of four white men attacked him while performing. After the authorities apprehended the men, the singer returned to the stage, with the remaining audience members giving him a 10-minute standing ovation.

This isn’t Domingo’s first rodeo with Cole, as he co-wrote the play “Lights Out: Nat ‘King’ Cole” with Patricia McGregor that premiered at the Geffen Playhouse. That interpretation imagines what might have been going through the singer’s mind during his 1957 Christmas special on “The Nat King Cole Show,” the first network program hosted by an African American.

Cole was one of the most popular and influential musicians of the 20th century. He began his career as a jazz and pop vocalist in the late 1930s, recording over 100 chart-topping songs in music history, notably “Unforgettable,” “Smile,” and “Let There Be Love,” and sold over 50 million records. The Grammy Awards gave Cole a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

The news comes following his Oscar nomination for best actor for his work as civil rights leader Bayard Rustin in George C. Wolfe’s “Rustin” and being cast as Jackson 5 family patriarch Joe Jackson — the controversial talent manager and father of pop star Michael Jackson — in the upcoming biopic directed by Antoine Fuqua.

Domingo is already filling up his 2024 calendar. He executive produced the horror movie “It’s What’s Inside,” which premiered at Sundance and sold for $17 million to Netflix. He’ll also appear in feature films such as Ethan Coen’s “Drive-Away Dolls” and Greg Kewdar’s “Sing Sing,” which he also produced.

Domingo is represented by Gersh, Liebman Entertainment, Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham.

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