*The Wrap is reporting that there is definitely a screenwriting credit beef going on between “12 Years a Slave” screenwriter John Ridley and director Steve McQueen, both of whom took home Oscars on Sunday night.
During the telecast, many viewers noticed that the two didn’t give each other congratulatory hugs, or even look each other’s way when the other won. Also, neither was thanked, nor even mentioned in the other’s acceptance speech.
Well, according to The Wrap, the bitter feud started when Ridley turned down McQueen’s request for shared screenplay credit.
Ridley and McQueen kept quiet about it for the good of the campaign before it came to a head Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre.
When Ridley was announced as winner, McQueen stayed seated and looked as if he was forcing himself to applaud the writer. Ridley walked right past him to the stage…
…pausing only to hug director David O. Russell, who years ago, reportedly reduced Ridley to a “story by” credit on “Three Kings.” (Ridley wrote the original “Three Kings” script on spec but it was so heavily rewritten by Russell that he only received a ‘story by’ credit, a snub that still rubs the writer the wrong way.)
Here are the lurid details of the beef, according to The Wrap…
Apparently, the bad blood between McQueen and Ridley has persisted for some time. McQueen has paid respect to Ridley’s contribution in interviews, though he has never been effusive in his praise, not that McQueen often is (outside of Michael Fassbender). An individual familiar with the frosty situation tells TheWrap that McQueen has iced Ridley out to the point of rudeness — he barred people from speaking to Ridley and insisted that the writer be seated at separate tables at awards shows late in the season, including the BAFTAs.
That’s where McQueen berated Ridley’s wife while the writer was in the bathroom, trying to snatch up her BAFTA souvenirs and leaving her in tears, according to two insiders who passed along details of the outburst.
“12 Years a Slave” took the top prize at the BAFTAs that night and McQueen failed to thank Ridley during his acceptance speech. That was no oversight, since McQueen read his prepared speech off a piece of paper. Additionally, at the Golden Globes, McQueen didn’t thank Ridley until another producer whispered in his ear and reminded him to pay his respects, if only to prevent the media from speculating about the growing rift.
While some hoped McQueen and Ridley could settle their differences by Oscar night, it was not to be, as ABC cameras caught McQueen in the middle of what appeared to be begrudging applause when Ridley’s Oscar win was announced.
McQueen tapped Ridley to work on a separate slavery-themed project that eventually led to “12 Years a Slave” after McQueen’s wife discovered the book, which Ridley subsequently agreed to adapt on spec. McQueen had a hand in shaping the script that Ridley turned in, but when he asked the writer for shared credit — not uncommon in Hollywood — Ridley politely declined, an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.
McQueen was nonplussed and appealed to Fox Searchlight, which ultimately sided with Ridley. Brad Pitt, who produced “Slave” and plays a small role in the film, was even forced to step in at one point and mediate. (It didn’t help that Pitt was also in the midst of a PR battle with Paramount over the fact that his company Plan B, based at the studio at the time, failed to offer it a chance to finance and distribute “12 Years a Slave” before taking the project to New Regency.)
McQueen begrudgingly agreed to hold his tongue for the sake of the movie. He, Ridley, Pitt and Fox Searchlight executives all knew what was at stake — and how easily a Best Picture win could slip through their fingers if public discord leaked to the media.
Their silence proved to be a wise decision: The slavery drama ended up winning three Oscars, including Best Picture, which McQueen accepted as a producer; and adapted screenplay, which Ridley accepted on his own behalf.
After Ridley’s win, he told reporters backstage that mirroring Solomon Northup’s use of the English language was among the most challenging in adapting his book to the screen.