Entertainment

All the Actors Who Have Played Martin Luther King, Jr., Ranked  

Ranker Film
992 votes 354 voters 8k views 18 items

List Rules Actors who played Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in films, on television, or in a play. Vote up the actors who handled the role the best.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a giant impact in the history of America with his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement. It comes as no surprise that King's personality, story, and dream would be touched upon in various forms of popular culture. But which actors have had the skill and the presence to play the good doctor?

Over the past 50 years, there have been several actors who played MLK in film, television, or on the stage. There are even a few who voiced him in cartoons. In fact, those were some of the best MLK performances. Whether it was a serious portrayal of the man or satire that paid respect to his legacy, here's a definitive ranking of all the best actors who portrayed Martin Luther King Jr. Vote up your favorite.
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

TV mini-series portrayed in: King (1978)

Winfield powerfully portrayed Dr. King in a critically-praised performance. The mini-series earned a number of Emmy nominations, including Best Actor for Winfield's performance as MLK.


Age: Dec. at 65 (1939-2004)

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States of America

More Paul Winfield

#45 of 80 on The Best African American Actors in Film #162 of 217 on Famous People Buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park

Was he the best?
see more on Paul Winfield
Jeffrey Wright is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list All the Actors Who Have Played Martin Luther King, Jr., Ranked
Photo: HBO Films

Film portrayed in: Boycott (2001)

Jeffrey Wright has a storied career, playing such characters as Felix Leiter in the James Bond franchise and Colin Powell in W. Wright showed off his acting chops in his portrayal of Dr. King in a film focused on the civil rights bus boycott.

Age: 53

Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States of America

More Jeffrey Wright

#27 of 266 on The Greatest Male Celebrity Role Models #44 of 80 on The Best African American Actors in Film #19 of 27 on Black Actors Who Played White Characters #19 of 32 on What The Hunger Games SHOULD Have Looked Like In The Movies

Was he the best?
see more on Jeffrey Wright
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

Film portrayed in: Selma (2014)

Oyelowo has had a number of supporting roles on TV and film over the years, but really broke through in his portrayal of Dr. King in this Oscar-nominated film Selma. Oyelowo won a Golden Globe and an Independent Spirit Award for Best Actor for this role in 2015.

 

Age: 42

Birthplace: Oxford, United Kingdom

More David Oyelowo

#80 of 104 on The Greatest Film Actors Of The Decade #91 of 118 on The All-Time Best Voice Actors #57 of 66 on The Best Living English Actors #7 of 21 on The Best WTF With Marc Maron Episodes Of 2018

Was he the best?
see more on David Oyelowo
Dexter Scott King is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list All the Actors Who Have Played Martin Luther King, Jr., Ranked
Photo: CBS

TV mini-series portrayed in: The Rosa Parks Story (2002)

Who better to portray Dr. King than his own son? Dexter played his father in this TV mini-series about Rosa Parks.

Age: 58

Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America

Was he the best?
see more on Dexter Scott King