Inside sources spoke with The Wrap's Jeff Sneider, who reports that Ridley "turned down" McQueen's request for shared screenplay credit. The refusal to add McQueen's name to the screenplay, in turn, led to an uncomfortable awards season for those involved with 12 Years a Slave. The Wrap writes that McQueen had even "barred people from speaking to Ridley and insisted that the writer be seated at separate tables at awards shows late in the season, including the BAFTAs."
These same sources also claim McQueen berated Ridley's wife at the BAFTAs and that the film's team worked very hard to avoid media speculation about the relationship between the two men in order to protect the movie's reputation during awards season.
McQueen tapped Ridley to work on a separate slavery-themed project that eventually led to "12 Years a Slave" after McQueen's wife discovered the book, which Ridley subsequently agreed to adapt on spec. 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, an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.
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.
Luckily for both men, the only thing that slipped through McQueen's fingers on Sunday night was fake air.
[Images via AP]