I thought a short Los Angeles Times piece posed some interesting questions about artist and their beliefs. In the article they talk about a bit of a stand-off between Nicole Kidman, and actor and Lee Daniels, her director.
Apparently, Daniels had requested that Kidman use the N-word in a scene toward her black co-star in The Paperboy. Reportedly Kidman was not keen on the idea. The L.A. Times reports she stated “I didn’t feel like it was right for the character,”then after a second, “I have a son who’s African American and I just didn’t feel it was right. It wasn’t right.”
Daniels for his part was reportely puzzled by her refusal and weighed it with the producer. He told the NY Post
“Her character was supposed to say the N-word, and she wouldn’t say it. I was angry. My producer tells me, ‘Are you serious? She bends over a washing machine [for a sex scene] the first day, she has telepathic sex with Cusack in prison on the second day, she urinates on Zac Efron on the third day, and you’re angry because she won’t say the N-word? “Give the girl a break.’ I said, ‘Alright.'”
An actors job is to tell the story as set forth in the script. They have the freedom to interpret and bring characters to life, but what other rights do they have? Do you think Kidman had a right to refuse? What about the producers claim, should we assume the being in a compromising sexual position and peeing were not in the script? I say this because it begs the question did Kidman not sign-on to play THIS character?
I haven’t even broached the fiery topic of the N-word yet. I for one despise its use in everyday vernacular, but within certain context don’t mind its use on screen or stage. It reminded me of similar conversation in a production I was in, where the word was used quite a bit, and the African American actors were expressly asked their feelings on the matter and much discussion was had between the director and producer. You may recall not so long ago there was talk of editing the work of Mark Twain for use of the word within his novels. Are we as black people so sensitive that we can’t take the word being used even within historical context?
David Oyelowo was quoted in the piece regarding the request “Daniels feels it is his job to push you out of your comfort zone; he feels the truth will be accessed.”
While short I thought the piece bought up many interesting questions. What are your thoughts on the topic?