In an attempt to curb the controversy, Widows star Colin Farrell defended the use of the N-word in Steve McQueen’s upcoming heist film following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday.
Widows is based on Lynda La Plante’s 1980s British crime drama of the same name, and is McQueen’s first movie since 2013’s 12 Years a Slave. The script is co-written by McQueen and Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn.
In the movie, Viola Davis leads a group of widows on her husband’s final heist to pay a debt left by their dead spouses. Farrell plays legacy politician Tom Mulligan privy to the actions of Davis and at odds with his father Jack, played by Robert Duvall.
During a heated scene between the father and son, Duvall spouts the n-word. When asked about the scene at TIFF, Farrell explained that “the majority of, if not all the wrongdoings, in the world take place in silent conversations…So this is a conversation that been going on between him and his father,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
According to Farrell, while the father is the one using the slur, the scene exposes how his character Tom is hardly any better. “Not to defend him, but God bless Jack Mulligan, because the slightest tilt of his head when his father uses that N-word is about all that man (Tom) can manage at that point,” the actor said.
His co-stars including Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo also defended the word’s use in capturing authenticity. “We’re no fools. We have to project reality onscreen, because that’s what art is about, and we have to transform it and reveal it,” Farrell said.
Widows also stars Daniel Kaluuya, Brian Tyree Henry, and Liam Neeson. Check out the trailer below.