Steve McQueen on Viola Davis in "Widows": "She's one of the greatest actresses of her generation"


“I'm hoping that people's popcorn gets jolted out of their hands and gets thrown in their chest.” This is director Steve McQueen’s vision for audiences of his new heist-thriller “Widows,” starring Viola Davis and out in theaters November 16.

The Academy Award winner appeared on “Salon Talks” to discuss his first feature film since winning the best picture Oscar for “12 Years A Slave.” McQueen, who co-wrote “Widows” with Gillian Flynn and produced on the project, calls it a “rollercoaster ride” that most will need to watch a second time to fully grasp every visual moment.

“You're propelled into the movie from the get-go,” McQueen told Salon. “That's what I wanted. I want to bring people immediately into the narrative. It's sort of a visualist experience.”

“Widows,” which is based on the 1983 UK television series of the same name by crime writer Lynda La Plante, follows four women (played by Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo and Elizabeth Debicki) who must pick up the pieces when their husbands die attempting armed robbery.

McQueen’s connection to the original series runs deep. He first saw it as a young teenager. “For the first time I saw these women who I could identify with because of the disadvantages they had within the broader, wider world, and having to surf and navigate that in order to sort of survive and achieve in this drama,” he explained.

“How they were being judged visually was similar to how I was being judged by my appearance and deemed as not being capable.”

McQueen also opened up about casting Davis in a role which he says is unlike any she’s done before. “She's so strong and at the same time there's depth, there's weakness, there's vulnerability, and humanity.”

And, working with Davis on “Widows” solidified for McQueen how he already felt about her talent. “She's one of the greatest actresses of her generation because she reflects who we are; male, female, whatever race you are. You look at her and you see yourself. That's the genius of a brilliant actor, that you see yourself through the person on the screen.”

Watch the full episode above to hear how McQueen categorizes “Widows” among his body of work as an artist.


Photography by Jill Greenberg. Watch Jill's TedxTalk on the Female Lens and the problem with only seeing the world from a man's perspective. And find out more about Jill's initiative Alreadymade., a mission to hire more female photographers and content creators.


Subscribe to SalonTV’s YouTube Channel to watch SalonTV's live interview and music shows "Salon Talks" and "Salon Stage," airing daily at noon ET / 9 a.m. PT and 4 p.m. Click here to watch more “Salon Talks” interviews.

More From This Week on SalonTV