Up next for director Steve McQueen is a Paul Robeson biopic, focusing on the life of the singer, actor, and activist.

McQueen told The Guardian that he has been wanting to tell the story of Robeson for some time now. “His life and legacy was the film I wanted to make the second after Hunger. But I didn’t have the power, I didn’t have the juice.”

Paul Robeson was an actor and singer in the early twentieth century, and became a political activist in the 30s. In his later years, he got involved in the Civil Rights movement and was subsequently blacklisted for his political activism. McQueen talks about the first time he read of Robeson’s actions.

“It was about this black guy who was in Wales and was singing with these miners,” he said. “I was about 14 years old, and not knowing who Paul Robeson was, this black American in Wales, it seemed strange. So then, of course, I just found out that this man was an incredible human being.”

Robeson was the focus of End Credits, McQueen’s experimental documentary art piece.

Steve McQueen has been steadily growing into a force in Hollywood. His early credits include the aforementioned Hunger, which focused on the hunger strike by IRA prisoner Bobby Sands, played by McQueen regular Michael Fassbender. In Shame, McQueen’s NC17-rated follow up to Hunger, Fassbender played a sex addicted Manhattan businessman.

Last year, McQueen was nominated for his directing of 12 Years A Slave, which would go on to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Fassbender appeared once again, playing a tyrannical slave owner, and was subsequently nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

Harry Belafonte, one of Robeson’s friends, is slated to star in Steve McQueen’s Paul Robeson biopic, presumably as an older Robeson, although that is not yet confirmed.

[photo credit: Steve Rhodes]