“Widows” teams Steve McQueen with the likes of Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, and Michelle Rodriguez, but the latter might not have been cast had McQueen listened to some controversial advice. The director revealed to Uproxx that he was originally told not to work with Rodriguez because she has a reputation for being difficult on set.
“Don’t work with her. No, no don’t work with her,” McQueen remembered being told. “But people say that about me. If you’re a white director, they call you a perfectionist. Me, they call difficult. So I didn’t pay any mind to what people say about Michelle, because I had to find out for myself.”
McQueen offered Rodriguez the part but she declined. The director said the actress felt the part was “subservient to men” and told him she didn’t want to be in a situation where “she was beholden to a man.” McQueen ended up auditioning several other actresses for the role, none of whom worked as well as he thought Rodriguez would as one of his eponymous widows. The movie centers around a group of women who come together to pull of a heist following their husbands’ deaths.
“It was kind of funny because, what’s interesting about Michelle is, I’m interested in easy people,” McQueen said. “She is just amazing as an intellect and what she’s interested in, she’s so curious and so tenacious as a human being.”
“When I met her, I thought, ‘Oh, I understand what they mean by difficult.’ She’s always asking questions to herself, difficult questions. And trying to answer them,” he continued. “Bring that here! I want that! I have the same reputation so it’s nonsense. Again, when people say things about people, one has to find out themselves. That’s it. That’s what it is.”
“Widows” debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival to strong reviews, with IndieWire’s Eric Kohn praising McQueen’s efforts in his A- review. 20th Century Fox opens the movie in theaters nationwide November 16. Head over to Uproxx to read more of McQueen’s interview.