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The Oscar-winning film-maker Steve McQueen was a 13-year-old London schoolboy when he first watched Lynda La Plante’s ground-breaking television drama Widows, about four women who take over a daring robbery set up by their recently departed husbands.
McQueen, who made 12 Years A Slave, Hunger and Shame, can recall being transfixed by the six-part series starring Ann Mitchell as Dorothy Rawlins, the queen bee who takes charge of her old man’s heist ledger and recruits the other widows.
Decades - Meeting - Address - Motion - McQueen
Three decades later, a fortuitous meeting at a glamorous address set in motion what would become McQueen’s fourth feature film. ‘I met Lynda La Plante at Buckingham Palace, as you do, lining up to meet the Queen at an arts event — Lenny Henry and Angela Lansbury were there — and I asked her what happened to the movie rights to Widows,’ the director told me recently at the Dean Street Townhouse in Soho.
She said the rights were with Disney. New Regency, the studio with which he made 12 Years A Slave, purchased the permissions to make the film.
McQueen - Decades - Mitchell - Mrs - Rawlins
McQueen had remained fascinated, over the decades, by Mitchell’s Mrs Rawlins and the diversity of the gang she gathered around her. However, he wanted to make a contemporary Widows that encompassed not just women and their empowerment but explored the underbelly of how a big city operated. So he transplanted the story to Chicago, a ‘wonderful, fertile textured city’, but also ‘full of tension’.
And for the final touch, he added a pinch of politics: describing the result as ‘political pop’.
Handful - People - Film - Rollicking - Thriller
The handful of people who’ve seen the film tell me it’s a rollicking, breathtaking thriller, with the kind of depth only an artist of McQueen’s stature can bring to the mix.
That much was evident when I was on set for a couple of days in Chicago last...
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