Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Oscar Winners Steve McQueen & John Ridley Reportedly Beefing Over '12 Years A Slave' Screenplay Credit

News
by Kevin Jagernauth
March 3, 2014 2:13 PM
25 Comments
  • |

Last night, if you hadn't fall asleep by time it was announced, you may have noticed a slight chill when screenwriter John Ridley went up to accept his Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for "12 Years A Slave." He curiously didn't even acknowledge director Steve McQueen, walking by him on his way up to the stage, and in his speech, he thanked everyone involved with the movie except the director. Is that beef we're smelling?

According to Nikki Finke, it could be as the former Deadline reporter tweeted out the following last night:

The Wrap has more context, revealing that after McQueen tapped Ridley to pen the adaptation on spec — and "had a hand in shaping" the final result, but was denied by the writer when he asked for a co-credit. Fox Searchlight sided with Ridley, and everyone involved agreed to keep the battle under wraps, but it has surfaced in recent weeks, starting at the BAFTAs where Ridley was excluded from McQueen's prepared speech. And while McQueen did mention the writer at the Golden Globes, it was a last minute reminder by a producer, reportedly to keep any notice of tension behind the scenes from affecting the Oscar campaign.

But last night, neither McQueen or Ridley mentioned the other in their speeches indicating that feelings are still very much bruised. And it's not the first time Ridley has clashed with a director over credits to movie. Way back in 1999, Ridley and David O. Russell battled over "Three Kings," with the writer blocking the director from publishing a book of the screenplay. Ridley wrote "Three Kings" on spec, but Russell rewrote the script extensively and the WGA ultimately ruling granting a Ridley a "story by" credit. "This is a guy who every step of the way has tried to grab credit," Ridley told EW at the time. "I never heard a word while he was shooting the movie. Never saw any of the script changes. And then finally, a year later, I get a copy of the script, and my name isn't even on it. It's 'by David O. Russell.' My name is nowhere."

"I'm shocked that he's blocking the book," Russell responded. "I think he's doing it because he's embarrassed by how little of his screenplay ended up in my movie."

But whatever static they had at the time, seems to have long cooled with Ridley giving Russell a quick embrace on the way to collect his trophy. As for whatever is going with McQueen, we'll just have to wait and see but it seems not even highest cinema honors in the land could mend it.

Below, check out Ridley's walk through the Dolby Theater, and McQueen's fake applause in response which has immediately gone viral.

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

25 Comments

  • Ardel | May 20, 2014 5:43 PMReply

    Good God writers are so precious. Look at the script again you can see the cut and paste.

  • Jason | March 5, 2014 4:29 PMReply

    Your kidding right? He forgot to mention Gale was his wife because he was obviously nervous, and people are getting worked up he forgot to mention one name? He even said afterwards that he meant to thank McQueen too. He's a screenplay writer, not an actor used to public speaking. Jesus, people are idiots.

  • mark w | March 5, 2014 3:58 AMReply

    I don't remember this much fuss over the "alleged" Brad Pitt/Marc Forster feud about "World War Z" last year. That was MUCH more toxic than this silly s***. And trust me: if I told you what THAT feud was about, you'd never believe me.

  • World Famous Director Supreme | March 4, 2014 3:10 PMReply

    Love the film and McQueen's work but this shows insecurity and immaturity on both their parts. As is often true in these squabbles the two sides are acting both more alike than they might think. So what if you actually wrote part of the movie and didn't get credit. If the writer wants all the glory or he's going to make a stink about it, let him have it, move on and don't work with him again. The display they both put on does more to hurt them than help them.

    How many people in the history of movies have sweat blood into a film and didn't get credit. This is not the first time. The test of a filmmaker as a person comes when fame approaches. Be the big man and go on to the next project.

    Kudos and awesome congrats to Mr. Ridley. However nobody but nobody sees it as Ridley's movie. There are two names attached to the execution of the film McQueen and Solomon Northrup. Steve, don't spoil a good thing.

  • Ted H | March 5, 2014 9:55 AM

    It's hard to see how both men are acting alike, unless Ridley had demanded that McQueen give him a co-directing credit. Otherwise it's not exactly a two-way street, is it?

    It doesn't sound like you know much about the filmmaking process. We have no reason to think McQueen actually wrote any of the script, we just know that he wanted to share credit, and that the producers refused to support him in this demand.

    Ridley is not the one making any stink, he's only retaining the credit for the job that he did. Screenplay credits determine who receives the residual payments for the film, which will continue for many years -- this is a lot of money owed to the person who did the work, it's not a peanut butter and jelly sandwich you cut in half and share. I'm curious, has anyone ever asked you to give them half of your earnings from your job over the next ten years? Just wondered if you politely declined you would consider that "making a stink." Hey, what's a little security for retirement and a college education for your children when it's more important to play nice with an egomaniacal director for the sake of an awards show?

    It's insane to expect a screenwriter to just casually share credit in order to avoid a hissyfit thrown by an egomaniacal director. When was the last time you heard of an actor sharing credit? And actors don't even write their own lines! Or dress themselves. Or do their own hair. They're even told what to do. But their credit is ALL THEIRS, no matter how many other people had a hand in shaping their performance and making them look good. But no, apparently writers should just share their credit with people who don't actually write. Mmm OK. Sounds good. When actors start sharing their credit with writers who write their lines and directors start sharing credit with writers who create the stories and characters then maybe writers can start sharing credit with directors who shoot their scripts.

  • spmorgan | March 4, 2014 10:15 AMReply

    In the first video you can see McQueen clapping while Ridley walks to the stage. It looks genuine at that point.

  • mike | March 4, 2014 2:38 AMReply

    This actually cheers me up. If people cant find hapiness the night they win an Oscar, why would I want to be any part of that insane machine? Thank you for reminding me my boring real life is as good, or better then any of these 'superstars' as they, like the rest of us, are rarely happy with our lot in life either. The rest of us, dont, however, get showered with constant adulation. Go figure. Hence: The Human Drama.

  • Terry | March 4, 2014 8:07 AM

    I agree! Sometimes i feel like we are all still in junior high sometimes-- even Oscar winners-- sheesh!

  • magbo | March 4, 2014 1:45 AMReply

    Wrong. Ridley didn't direct the movie. So we don't know what it would have turned out like had he done so. Making movies is teamwork in the end - this movie is driven first by the book (Ridley definitely 'needed' the book) then the script then the direction then the casting then the acting performances (and wrapped up with that the casting) then the editing then all of the aesthetic skills - cinematography, wardrobe etc. brought to bring it to fruition. The articles says McQueen 'had a hand in shaping the final result' (of the script). Without being in on those writing sessions we don't know what that actually means. He may well have a good claim for some kind for writing credit and the extent to which he is being an asshole depends on the strength of that claim. Clearly they disagree on the strength of that claim - but in my book if anyone contributes to script then they should get a credit but the credits should reflect the respective contributions (and that just has to be agreed). It may be that you could equate McQueen's 'hand' as 5% - if that is so then it is only right that he is acknowledged at 5% rather than not being acknowledged at all because in fact Ridley did not write the script 100% all by his self. Perhaps the system of script writing credits needs to be revisited at least to acknowledge the principal that ANY contribution is worth SOMETHING - although you'd still get disagreements over percentage value. Still, given the critical success of the movie and the huge accolades both are receiving, it's disappointing to say the least, that they didn't acknowledge each others work when they received their awards. Even 'artists' like McQueen, it seems, are not immune.

  • KT | March 3, 2014 11:12 PMReply

    It amazes how much bitchassness is in this industry.

  • MJ | March 4, 2014 12:46 AM

    Word. All both sides.

  • Demond | March 3, 2014 10:07 PMReply

    Ridley Should Just Start Directing His Own Movies To Avoid Beefing With Filmmakers.

  • Crazyxcrazy | March 3, 2014 7:52 PMReply

    Steve McQueen's a dick, who knew?



    Oh yeah EVERYBODY

  • FP | March 3, 2014 7:42 PMReply

    The righteous indignation is funny. As of every one of these "screenwriters" would clap as vigorously as McQueen if they watched another writer accept an Oscar for a script they also had part in writing. Classy.

  • john | March 3, 2014 5:37 PMReply

    Let's just be clear: McQueen needed Ridley. Ridley did not need McQueen.

  • magbo | March 4, 2014 1:52 AM

    *principle

  • magbo | March 4, 2014 1:47 AM

    Wrong. Ridley didn't direct the movie. So we don't know what it would have turned out like had he done so. Making movies is teamwork in the end - this movie is driven first by the book (Ridley definitely 'needed' the book) then the script then the direction then the casting then the acting performances (and wrapped up with that the casting) then the editing then all of the aesthetic skills - cinematography, wardrobe etc. brought to bring it to fruition. The articles says McQueen 'had a hand in shaping the final result' (of the script). Without being in on those writing sessions we don't know what that actually means. He may well have a good claim for some kind for writing credit and the extent to which he is being an asshole depends on the strength of that claim. Clearly they disagree on the strength of that claim - but in my book if anyone contributes to script then they should get a credit but the credits should reflect the respective contributions (and that just has to be agreed). It may be that you could equate McQueen's 'hand' as 5% - if that is so then it is only right that he is acknowledged at 5% rather than not being acknowledged at all because in fact Ridley did not write the script 100% all by his self. Perhaps the system of script writing credits needs to be revisited at least to acknowledge the principal that ANY contribution is worth SOMETHING - although you'd still get disagreements over percentage value. Still, given the critical success of the movie and the huge accolades both are receiving, it's disappointing to say the least, that they didn't acknowledge each others work when they received their awards. Even 'artists' like McQueen, it seems, are not immune.

  • yer | March 3, 2014 4:51 PMReply

    Director's ask for phony screenwriting credits all the time. It's part of creating the 'auteur' allure going.

  • gerard kennelly | March 3, 2014 7:05 PM

    edward norton was the same with FRiDA
    remember that ?
    not enough to be a two time oscar nominee
    has to be a writer as well

  • buddy | March 3, 2014 4:07 PMReply

    I've seen the 'shooting script' online, didn't read the whole thing but did notice that it's in chronological order- that is, it starts with Solomon at home with his family then goes from there. I'd be curious whether the decision to make it nonlinear with flashbacks happened before or during shooting or in the editing room, and also whether this somewhat radical change is part of the (alleged, possible) conflict between the two.

  • marshmeli | March 3, 2014 3:39 PMReply

    Didn't Ridley thank McQueen at the Indie Spirits the night prior (could be wrong)? Interested to hear more about that, since during all the press for this film, McQueen seemed thankful for Ridley and work he did on it.

  • equipmentguy | March 3, 2014 2:52 PMReply

    Same old shit man, the Screenwriter today is bottom of the food chain. You get a Director or Producer loves the script and buys/options it and then the changes start. Tweak this, adjust that, then it goes into production and the actors start fine tuning things with the Director on set. By the end of this process everyone thinks they deserve a freaking co-writing credit. Especially when Awards season kicks in and attention starts shining on a film. This happens all the time because most Directors consider themselves Auteurs and they have brainwashed themselves about their talent and with the help of all their "yes" men and publicists it makes it real easy for them to be in denial about who really wrote the script. I have directed two of my own screenplays and you won't believe what I've been through on line changes and the "credit" they want on the final project. As the saying goes "Success has many Fathers but failure is a bastard child".

  • jesstifer | March 4, 2014 4:31 AM

    This, exactly.

  • Jim | March 3, 2014 3:47 PM

    rent "The Pickle"

  • cory everett | March 3, 2014 2:22 PMReply

    Looks like he and Russell have patched things up according to that video. Would love to hear more of the behind-the-scenes shit on this McQueen/Ridley thing and how Searchlight managed to keep a lid on it throughout the entire season.

Email Updates