Oscar Nominee John Ridley Discusses Writing the Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave

NPR's Michele Norris interviewed screenwriter John Ridley who wrote the screenplay for 12 Years a Slave. Ridley directed the films Three Kings, U-Turn, Red Tails, Undercover Brother and All is by my Side, the upcoming biopic of Jimi Hendrix. 12 Years a Slave was adapted from the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. The film is nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Ridley talks about how he did not really understand the reality of what slavery was like before he wrote this film. He did a great deal of research and was shocked at what he found. This talk happened right before his Oscar nomination. Ridley says this is the most difficult thing he's ever written and it took him four years to write. He wrote the screenplay on spec and just trusted that he could get the film made.

Ridley talks about his two sons and how he thought about them when he wrote the character of Solomon. He explains, "I have two boys. I just said, 'If I were trying to show these two boys, my two sons, what I thought the character of a man was of an American man, of a man of color that's what Solomon was when I read this book. And my message was just about character.'"

You can see an excerpt from the very interesting talk here:

You can see the entire interview here.

Posted on February 28, 2014

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