David Oyelowo on his "scary" but "beautiful" new role

In the new movie "Five Nights in Maine," actor David Oyelowo plays a widower who lost his wife in a car accident. He is called to Maine by his terminally ill and estranged mother-in-law, played by Oscar-winning actress Dianne Wiest, who is also trying to grieve.

"We're all, whether we like it or not, gonna have to deal with bereavement at some point in our lives, and it's something I think as a society maybe we shy away from. But when I read the script, it was just a very beautiful treatment of a thing that we all go through."

Oyelowo, also a producer for the film, said the project was a learning experience -- and a "scary" one.

"What drew me to it was also the thing that made me scared of it," he said. "I'm married to a very wonderful lady myself, and when you're an actor, you have to put yourself in the position of what you're playing. And so the idea of having to entertain the loss of her, which is what I would have to do with something I didn't want to do."

Oyelowo contrasted it with his role as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in "Selma."

"If you're playing someone like Dr. King, you're able to put yourself in their shoes and their experiences. With something like this, you have to feel what it would be like for you, and that's not a pleasant thing," Oyelowo said. "But you have to go there, which is something I chose to subject myself to for the sake of the story."

But ultimately, he wanted to show how people can heal after tragedies and suffering, he said.

The actor, who recently became U.S. citizen, has been vocal about diversity in Hollywood and the #OscarsSoWhite controversy surrounding the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He acknowledged the Academy is making progress, however.

"I think in terms of the whole diversity and inclusion issue, we need to go past talking about it and actually just do it," Oyelowo said. "And I think the Academy is doing that. For me, I actively look for projects that showcase people of color. That to me is doing it. To actively look for female directors is doing it, as opposed to talking about it. If we all decide to just do it, the change will come."