TheWrap has divulged the details of a reported rift between "12 Years a Slave" director and producer Steve McQueen and its screenwriter John Ridley, both of whom walked away with Oscars for the film that won three Oscars on Sunday night.
Rumors of the rift came to light when Ridley did not thank McQueen in his acceptance speech, and the director did not mention Ridley in his. But the two have reportedly been passively aggressively ignoring each other in various awards dinners, including the Golden Globes and the BAFTAS, explains TheWrap. Things got so heated that, according to two sources, McQueen "berated Ridley’s wife while the writer was in the bathroom, trying to snatch up her BAFTA souvenirs and leaving her in tears."
While the director originally brought Ridley on board to draft the script on spec, things soured when Ridley refused to give McQueen co-credit. According to TheWrap, "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."
It's impressive that the public had no hint of the drama unfolding behind-the-scenes, but that was no accident. TheWrap reports:
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.
There doesn't seem to be a resolution to their conflict, but since the two walked away with Oscars, at least they can both feel like winners.
Update: Ridley has responded to rumors of the rift in Page Six, saying that his omission of McQueen in his Oscars acceptance speech was not intentional:
“Listen, without Steve McQueen, I wouldn’t have this Oscar tonight,” Ridley said at Vanity Fair’s party after winning for Best Adapted Screenplay. “I owe a lot to the genius of Steve McQueen, and I am forever grateful to have had the chance to work with him.”
Asked if omitting McQueen’s name onstage was intentional, Ridley told us, “Of course not. 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.”