’12 Years’ writer John Ridley denies beef, ‘regrets’ not thanking Steve McQueen


Just after the Oscars, people began discussing the subtler shades of beef that seemed to bubble over during the Oscar ceremony. The questions began innocently enough: why did Steve McQueen do such a bitchy Mean Girl faux-clap for 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley when Ridley won? Why did Ridley and McQueen not embrace or even acknowledge each other? Why did Ridley not thank the director? (enormous sidenote: I want to name my memoir Subtler Shades of Beef.)

Some people attributed the beef to a simple misunderstanding about a party. Other people – MOST people – thought that Ridley and McQueen had a beef about the screenwriting credit. As in, McQueen believed he had done significant work on the screenplay and thought he deserved a co-credit. Sources claimed that Ridley disagreed (this wasn’t Ridley’s first time in a beef with an egotistical director either) and apparently Brad Pitt did a good job of keeping Ridley and McQueen apart for the Oscar campaign.

But Ridley keeps talking about it, and to his credit (I guess), he sounds like it’s all some huge misunderstanding and that there’s no beef whatsoever. Ridley appeared at SXSW and spoke to HuffPo. Some highlights:

Not thanking McQueen: “I do regret it. But just 24 hours earlier at the Spirit Awards I sincerely went on and on about Steve and my work with him. You know, the guy changed my life. At the Oscars you have 30 seconds to talk and it’s like the oxygen drops out of the room. I know [when I heard my name called] I hugged my wife twice, I know David O. Russell, again this person people think I have beef with, was the first guy to hug me, I know Meryl Streep reached out and touched my arm.”

Who he did thank: His wife, a script coordinator named Gayle, for her early support of his work (“she was gracious enough to read everything I wrote and when she thought it was ready she’d put smiley faces at the end and I knew that it was job done,” he said). “That was my wife you know,” he says today. (Ridley and his wife Gayle met over 20 years ago working on the set of Martin Lawrence’s sitcom Martin.) ”I don’t think most people got that. Wow, I screwed up. Well, I know she got it. I didn’t want to be the guy when you’re getting played off by the music ‘Oh and my wife and I love her.’ I wanted to start there and thank someone who believed in me from the beginning. I wanted the bulk of that 30 seconds to go to my wife and whatever I had remaining was going to Solomon Northup who deserves it.”

On how people need drama: “I will say about 12 Years , from the jump, man, from the moment somebody said ‘Stop the year, this is the Best Picture’ the story became ‘It’s torture porn. Why are Brits doing this? This movie is only geared at liberal whites.’ In the end, I said to somebody else ‘At the very least we weren’t Zero Dark Thirty. Nobody set up a congressional investigation. This year it’s who hugged and kissed who and who didn’t.”

[From EW]

I’m including the video clip below. I mean… he doth protest too much. But I’ll give him some credit, he’s a very convincing actor. I think it’s far more likely that there was a genuine beef about screenwriter credit and that in the end, McQueen and Ridley both walked away with Oscars so someone (Brad Pitt, perhaps) was just like, “Enough, you both got the big prizes, it can be water under the bridge now.” Thus, this new and improved explanation for why Ridley didn’t thank McQueen. But we still don’t know why McQueen was doing his bitchy Mean Girl clap.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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15 Responses to “’12 Years’ writer John Ridley denies beef, ‘regrets’ not thanking Steve McQueen”

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  1. That bitchy, mean girl clap was the BEST THING EVER.
    That MADE the Oscars.
    What else would we be talking about (besides how fabulous Lupita looked)?

    And I totally don’t believe him—me and my mom were discussing this yesterday. She read an article on Yahoo–it said that Ridley turned in a draft of the script, and then McQueen helped him rewrite it (to his specifications)…if that’s true, then I think that McQueen deserved a credit.

    Plus, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get an egotistical/arrogant vibe from McQueen–proud of his work and confident in himself–yes. But then again, he’s kinda acting petty, so who knows?

  2. Anna says:

    That mean girl clap still makes me laugh, that was the funniest thing I saw from the Oscars

  3. Lucy2 says:

    I still think there was an issue, but this is an attempt to smooth things over, and do a little damage repair so people don’t think he’s difficult to work with.

  4. lisa2 says:

    As he said the night before at the ISA he did thank Steve..

    they may have issues, but I like that they are letting this become a big story. They both got their Oscars for a great film. Now they can all move on to the next thing.

  5. ali says:

    All this talk is away to take away focus from the film

  6. Sixer says:

    Ack ack. I think it’s all a part of the picture when you’re dealing with creative types with big egos.

    I love McQueen to death (and the handclap was a thing of beauty) but he’s not above a big ol’ ding dong. He wanted a good writer and he got one, knowing perfectly well that said writer can be a see you next Tuesday.

    They had a row. They let it show. They’ll move on.

    It’s not a biggie and I enjoyed seeing it a lot more than I would have enjoyed a load of insincere fakery – let’s face it, the rest of the Oscars was pretty much that. Celebrate the dick jousting, that’s what I say.

  7. blue marie says:

    Or maybe he didn’t want to come off like an a-hole so decided to “clarify” his position. I will say that if my SO was treated the way I read his wife was treated by McQueen, we would definitely have some problems. Hopefully it’s not true..

  8. qwerty says:

    His bitch face after they said he won was f*king pathetic. When he got up he looked like he was going to the loo and not to get his f*king OSCAR.

  9. Migdalia says:

    I can believe the screenwriting credit thing but what’s the big deal?? He didn’t mention Steve’s name in his speech. It’s not like we’ve never heard a ton of actors go “omg I can’t believe I forgot to thank my wife, brother, agent, producer, director, co-star, mother, manager, 3rd grade teacher, cat” before because they pretty much black out and just start talking on stage. If he thanked Steve publicly in other occasions including sxsw then Mr. McQueen has been thanked. The Oscars isn’t a new audience.