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John Ridley Says There’s No Writer/Director Feud w/ Steve McQueen. No Comment From McQueen However

John Ridley Says There's No Writer/Director Feud w/ Steve McQueen. No Comment From McQueen However

So are they feuding, or are they not feuding? 

On Oscar night, the web was all abuzz over what was perceived to be a mutual snub involving 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen and screenwriter John Ridley.
In short, if you missed it all, as John Ridley strode down the aisle to accept his Oscar, despite stopping to shake hands with, and/or hug others along the way, he walked right past McQueen, who was seated in an aisle seat, without so much as a glance, let alone a hand shake. And McQueen didn’t even attempt to engage Ridley in any way.
Furthermore, Ridley didn’t thank McQueen onstage when he accepted his Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, and then McQueen seemingly returned the *snub* when he spoke on behalf of the producers of the film, after it was awarded the Best Picture Academy Award, and thanked several who worked on the film, but didn’t mention Ridley at all.
So, naturally, the rumors of a potential feud between the two began to simmer
Nikke Finke (formerly of Deadline) even shared (via Twitter) that she’d spoken to “sources” of hers who claimed that there was some dispute between the two over the film’s screenwriting credit. Finke didn’t elaborate, but the speculation that continued suggested a couple of possibilities: first, that Ridley initially adapted the screenplay on spec, with no pay, with promises of a future payday, but either hadn’t received the money he felt he should have for the work he did, or the money he was paid wasn’t as much as he expected; And the other strand centered on McQueen, wanting to have been credited as co-writer on the project, given his supposed contribution to the screenplay, was peeved that Ridley got all the credit.
Neither really made much sense to me. First of all, if the alleged dispute was over salary, Ridley’s alleged beef would really have been with the producers of the film, as in Brad Pitt and his Plan B production company, and not with McQueen, who also received a producer credit on the film, but was chiefly its director, and ultimately (at least I don’t think so) wouldn’t have any influence on what Ridley got paid. And secondly, if the alleged dispute was over who should’ve been credited for writing the script, I would think that this would’ve been in the news a while ago, and not first become public at the Oscars. Somebody would’ve leaked the story, I’m sure. Or either gentlemen would’ve mentioned something. It seemed silly to me that they’d let something like this simmer for many months, and eventually let it boil over on live TV, on the night of the Academy Awards. 
And thankfully, finally, one of them is talking. 

According to Ridley, speaking to The New York Post from inside the Vanity Fair Oscar Party after the ceremony, there’s absolutely no feud between he and McQueen. His words:

“Listen, without Steve McQueen I wouldn’t have this Oscar tonight […] 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.”

Of course, that’s Ridley’s story, and he’s sticking to it. McQueen may or may not say the same thing whenever he’s asked about it – and I’m sure someone will eventually ask him about it.

So we’ll see.

But for right now, there’s nothing to see here. I suppose maybe the fact that it was a relatively smooth night, without any real hiccups nor drama (save for John Travolta’s gaff), as host Ellen DeGeneres kept things moving along briskly, audiences may have been looking for something – anything – seemingly controversial. 

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that dude

The question is whether they have beef – they obviously do. But Ridley was the bigger man and complimented McQueen. Will McQueen do the same? I am skeptical. Whatever, two black men have Oscars.

Accidental Visitor

Listening to Ridley’s visit on the Q&A podcast a couple of months ago, he confirmed my suspicion that the most innovative elements of the movie interpretation of the book, telling much of the story in a non-linear fashion, was the result of editing decisions by McQueen and not the idea of Ridley himself. So though the movie starts off with Solomon already in slavery and though we see a jump back-and-forth of Solomon when he is being drugged and when he is wakes up to find himself in chains, the script itself actually kept everything perfectly linear. Ridley’s approach was pretty much stick to exact details of the book except when he had to condense multiple characters into one. Therefore it can be argued he didn’t necessarily add any flourishes at all to the story or the presentation of the material. This is why I was worried in the first place that he was hired; he is somewhat a pedestrian writer IMO. I mean this is the guy that co-wrote “Red Tails” for goodness sakes. Yes, George Lucas dictated how the story of that movie was supposed to unfold and he dictated the tone, Still, Ridley wasn’t even able to make lemonade out of the lemons he was handed.

Now with that said if it is true that McQueen wanted credit for his contributions to the screenplay (perhaps discussions he and Ridley had), he should have asked for that immediately instead of waiting until Awards season. That makes McQueen look somewhat petty. Besides there are WGA rules in place that the Brad Pitt’s production company would have to maneuver around in order for that to happen.

Your Opinion Totally Matters

I so totally think they're like fighting! He was all like, you're wrong! And the other guy was all like, no you're wrong!!!! And the first guy was all like, I'm number one!!! And the second guy was all like, no I'M number one!!!! And then the first guy was all like, I'm better!!! And then the second guy was all like, no way, I'M better!!! But I totally think they are so both totally lying!!! I bet something is going on!!!! Oh yes those hollywood guys can't fool ME!!!


Come on, there's no way something isn't going on between those two. Am I supposed to believe that two highly intelligent men each forgot to thank the other when accepting their respective awards? And that the momentary slips had nothing to do with how they studiously avoided each other when Ridley was walking to the stage? This "feud" isn't important – it certainly doesn't change the way I feel about 12 Years or its many accomplishments – but let's not willingly put on blinders to the friction that happens in all human interaction. We can't change whatever has happened between McQueen and Ridley, but we can accept that it's happened, move on, and focus on more important things.


@John Ridley We don't believe you. You need more people.

His statement goes against what was written in "The Wrap". Check out the article over there.

I'm not saying The Wrap's account is true, but it does ring a little more true considering all that we've seen, including their interaction (or non-interaction) the night of the Oscars.

@Tambay: After reading more about the situation, it appears that the strife didn't become public because all parties involved realized they had something special in this movie and didn't want to hurt its award chances.

With respect to McQueen's non clapping. He actually clapped at the beginning (those .gifs take it out of content), but then he started pantomiming after a few seconds. He was probably tired of clapping! I do that all the time if I don't feel like clapping after doing it for two hours but don't want to look like a jerk. ;)


If john Ridley can't bring himself to thank the person who won him the oscar, then obviously there is some kind of beef.
Acceptance speeches matter.

maurice emel

I think Ridley is BS'ing, but all in all I respect the fact that 2 black men have created a masterpiece and even though they may not like each other have decided not to resort to bickering and tabloid fodder that would overshadow their work. See this as proof that you dont have to like someone to work with them and do well together.


Eh, I'm not sure if I believe McQueen — how does that explain the finger-claps?

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