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Oscar winner Steve McQueen says he was told a film with black leads wouldn’t make money


Steve Jennings/WireImageSteve McQueen is opening up about some of the criticism he faced while making his Oscar winning film 12 Years a Slave.

In an interview with The Big Issue, McQueen, who nabbed the Best Picture Oscar for the 2013 film, says although the film “opened a lot of doors for other filmmakers” there wasn’t that much support for it during its early stages.

“Everyone was telling me no and I didn’t take any notice, just like before. I was told a movie with black leads wouldn’t make any money internationally, especially one about slavery – and that was by someone supportive of the movie!”

Yet, even without the early support, McQueen says he’s “grateful” for the feature because of what it did for those who took the chance and signed on.

“I’m extremely proud of it, but it is what came after that I’m especially proud of,” he said. “It was a difficult film to make. Lupita Nyong’oMichael FassbenderChiwetel EjioforSarah Paulson – all these people risked a lot.”

Now, as a veteran filmmaker, McQueen says it’s all about stepping outside the box.

“Sometimes you have to ruffle feathers,” he said. “I think about my art and my movies, and to me it’s all about taking risks. You’ve got to throw yourself a curveball and experiment.”

“I’m not interested in getting comfortable or staying in the same place or everyone agreeing with me. I’m after some idea of what the truth could be,” he continued. “As an artist you want to experiment and move forward – that is how it is. Tomorrow I might want to make something else, like a pair of trousers.”

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