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John Ridley Says He’s “Grateful” For Steve McQueen, Claims Feud With ‘12 Years A Slave’ Director Is Nonexistent

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by Charlie Schmidlin
March 5, 2014 9:02 AM
3 Comments
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12 Years A Slave

As with every year, a number of gaffes littered the Oscars ceremony this past Sunday, from the minuscule to the most cringeworthy (check out our best and worst moments from the show). However, two actions have since been read as entirely deliberate: the lack of mutual recognition from either “12 Years A Slave” director Steve McQueen, or its writer John Ridley, during their acceptance speeches. Body language and some pretty facetious applause has added to evidence of a feud, but now one half of the pair has spoken out to set things straight.

Former Deadline editor-in-chief Nikki Finke ignited rumors of a rift between Ridley and McQueen shortly after the Oscars, suggesting that it sprung from a conflict over screenwriting credit on the ‘12 Years’ script—perhaps Ridley was shortchanged in the end for his spec script, or McQueen felt that his input into Ridley’s work should’ve received more notice.

However, for all of his apparent behavior, Ridley remained cordial when speaking to the New York Post (via Shadow and Act) during the post-Oscars Vanity Fair party.

“Listen, without Steve McQueen I wouldn’t have this Oscar tonight,” he said. “I owe a lot to the genius of Steve McQueen, and I am forever grateful to have had the chance to work with him… I had less than two minutes to thank everybody, and I was so caught up in the emotion of the moment when I was onstage… It was Steve’s wife who found Solomon Northup’s book. It was a great honor, but also a challenge because I wanted to be true to him, to turn Solomon’s eloquent words into a screenplay."

McQueen was too busy pogoing with joy to be reached for comment on the same night, but if and when the director is reached for comment, it’s a good bet that he’ll echo Ridley’s story. Together or apart, the two men have created an important work, now Oscar-recognized, and it’s also one that gains no favors from turning down a behind-the-scenes path similar to the legendary meltdown surrounding “Blue Is The Warmest Color."

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3 Comments

  • Godfrey Cheshire | March 6, 2014 12:56 AMReply

    As much as I'm a big fan of Indiewire, its "reporting" on this issue has been ridiculous. First, "rumors" of a McQueen-Ridley rift weren't "ignited" by Nikki Finke; everyone in the world saw neither artist mention the other in their remarks, and McQueen offering only the faintest applause as Ridley went to receive his Oscar. Second, Indiewire and other outlets contented themselves with simply quoting Finke rather than doing their own digging. Third, the interview quoted here credulously accepts Ridley's very dubious suggestion (perhaps prompted by Fox Searchlight's damage-control pressure on the screenwriter) that only time constraints kept him from thanking McQueen (!!?); and the interviewer notably fails to ask him if there was a dispute over screenwriting credits, as has been reported. Fourth, neither Indiewire nor other outlets I've seen looks into whether there were arbitrations proceedings over the screenwriting credits. I know this is only entertainment, folks, but a little real journalism wouldn't hurt.

  • Roger Winthorp | March 6, 2014 6:15 PM

    Thanks for the above Godfrey. It's exactly what I was thinking.

  • Jack Gattanella | March 5, 2014 11:54 AMReply

    I must be out of the loop because i didnt know there was a meltdown with the Warmest Color people.

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