BAM BAMIGBOYE: Steve McQueen takes the widows to Chicago for the renovation of the film

Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen was a 13-year-old schoolboy from London when he first saw Lynda La Plante's groundbreaking TV drama, Widows, about four women who took charge of a daring break-in by their husbands recently deceased.

McQueen, who did 12 Years A Slave, Hunger and Shame, remembers being paralyzed by the six-part series starring Ann Mitchell as Dorothy Rawlins, the queen bee who takes over her old man's hold-up book and recruits the others widows

Three decades later, a fortuitous meeting in a glamorous direction launched what would become McQueen's fourth feature film. "I met Lynda La Plante at Buckingham Palace, just like you, standing in line to meet the Queen at an art event, Lenny Henry and Angela Lansbury were there, and I asked her what happened to the film rights of the widows," he said. director. I recently at the Dean Street Townhouse in Soho.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen was a 13-year-old London schoolboy when he first saw Lynda La Plante's groundbreaking television drama, Widows, about four women who took charge of a daring break-in created by their recently deceased husbands McQueen, who made 12 Years A Slave, Hunger and Shame, can remember being paralyzed by the six-part series starring Ann Mitchell as Dorothy Rawlins, the queen bee who takes charge of her old man's book and recruits the other widows

Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen was a 13-year-old London schoolboy when he first saw Lynda La Plante's groundbreaking television drama, Widows, about four women who took charge of a daring break-in created by their recently deceased husbands McQueen, who made 12 Years A Slave, Hunger and Shame, can remember being paralyzed by the six-part series starring Ann Mitchell as Dorothy Rawlins, the queen bee who takes charge of her old man's book and recruits the other widows

Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen was a 13-year-old schoolboy from London when he first saw Lynda La Plante's groundbreaking television drama, Widows, about four women who took charge of a daring break-in by their recently deceased husbands (Author: Viola Davis, left, and Cynthia Erivo)

McQueen, who made 12 Years A Slave, Hunger and Shame, remembers being paralyzed by the six-part series starring Ann Mitchell as Dorothy Rawlins, the queen bee who takes over her old man's hold-up book and recruits the others widows

McQueen, who made 12 Years A Slave, Hunger and Shame, remembers being paralyzed by the six-part series starring Ann Mitchell as Dorothy Rawlins, the queen bee who takes over her old man's hold-up book and recruits the others widows

McQueen, who made 12 Years A Slave, Hunger and Shame, remembers being paralyzed by the six-part series starring Ann Mitchell as Dorothy Rawlins, the queen bee who takes over her old man's hold-up book and recruits the others widows

She said the rights were with Disney. New Regency, the studio with which he made 12 Years A Slave, bought the permits to make the film.

McQueen had remained fascinated, over the decades, by Mrs. Rawlins de Mitchell and the diversity of the gang that gathered around him. However, I wanted to make a contemporary widowhood that encompassed not only women and their empowerment, but also explored the most vulnerable part of how a big city worked. So he transplanted the story to Chicago, a "wonderful and fertile city with texture", but also "full of tension".

And for the final touch, he added a dash of politics: he described the result as & # 39; political pop & # 39 ;.

"I wanted to understand what it is that makes a big city work, since four women are organizing a big robbery with the clock against them."

McQueen, who made 12 Years A Slave, Hunger and Shame, remembers being paralyzed by the six-part series starring Ann Mitchell as Dorothy Rawlins, the queen bee who takes over her old man's hold-up book and recruits the others widows

McQueen, who made 12 Years A Slave, Hunger and Shame, remembers being paralyzed by the six-part series starring Ann Mitchell as Dorothy Rawlins, the queen bee who takes over her old man's hold-up book and recruits the others widows

McQueen, who made 12 Years A Slave, Hunger and Shame, remembers being paralyzed by the six-part series starring Ann Mitchell as Dorothy Rawlins, the queen bee who takes over her old man's hold-up book and recruits the others widows

The handful of people who have seen the film tells me that it is an impressive thriller, with the depth that only an artist of the stature of McQueen can contribute to the mix.

That was evident when I was on the set for a couple of days in Chicago last year, watching a cast led by Viola Davis as Veronica Rawlins: a former teacher union official whose dead husband Harry (Liam Neeson) was the cornerstone robber .

Then there's Elizabeth Debicki as Alice, whose late husband was in Harry's gang, but who thinks it's worth nothing. In addition to Michelle Rodriguez as Linda: a mother of two who ran a clothing store. And finally Cynthia Erivo as Belle, the fourth member and foreigner.

The set includes veteran Robert Duvall as a corrupt alderman who wants his son Colin Farrell to inherit his power base, but whose rivals, two brothers played by Brian Tyree Henry and a creepy Daniel Kaluuya, have other ideas.

When McQueen and Gillian Flynn (the author of Gone Girl) were investigating the script they found with the FBI, some members of the underworld were shown around the neighborhoods that would be used for the 60 locations in the movie.

The housing project where Belle de Erivo hairdresser resides is in the Parkway Gardens area on the south side: an "unpredictable environment" with a 10-foot metal fence around the apartments.

Another place had been the scene of a shooting. & # 39; Five people were shot and one of them died. In that particular week, two people had been shot dead near where we were filming. We had to have armed guards, "McQueen continued.

On another occasion, during filming in a large congregational church (Jesse Jackson's usual place of worship), I heard a woman (one of the background artists who filled the church) scream.

McQueen told me later that he had just learned that his girlfriend had shot his father. "Then, you can see that Chicago was also a personality in history," he said.

McQueen had another link to the original series: Ann Mitchell (right). The actress (who starred opposite Maureen O & # 39; Farrell, Fiona Hendley and Eva Mottley and now has a recurring role as Cora Cross in EastEnders) sent a note asking if she could participate, in some way, in the film .

McQueen had another link to the original series: Ann Mitchell (right). The actress (who starred opposite Maureen O & # 39; Farrell, Fiona Hendley and Eva Mottley and now has a recurring role as Cora Cross in EastEnders) sent a note asking if she could participate, in some way, in the film .

McQueen had another link to the original series: Ann Mitchell (right). The actress (who starred opposite Maureen O & # 39; Farrell, Fiona Hendley and Eva Mottley and now has a recurring role as Cora Cross in EastEnders) sent a note asking if she could participate, in some way, in the film .

The location's location manager, Nick Rafferty, told me that McQueen wanted the districts where the four women lived to reflect them.

He found a luxurious apartment building designed by the famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe on the Gold Coast of the city for the elegant Veronica de Davis. Debicki's Polish Alice was located at Belmont Cragin on the North West Side.

And Linda de Rodriguez lived in Little Village, the Latin part of the city on the West Side of the city.

"These disparate women have to learn to join because their lives depend on it," the director said.

"I had a two-hour lunch with Lynda and one of the things she told me was that the real women on whom she based her Widows had their backs against the wall, and they had the steel and determination."

Rodriguez was skeptical at first. It's supposed to be about female empowerment, but it's called Widows! So they are defined, literally, by the fact that they lost their husbands & # 39;

Rodriguez was skeptical at first. It's supposed to be about female empowerment, but it's called Widows! So they are defined, literally, by the fact that they lost their husbands & # 39;

Rodriguez was skeptical at first. It's supposed to be about female empowerment, but it's called Widows! So they are defined, literally, by the fact that they lost their husbands & # 39;

McQueen had another link to the original series: Ann Mitchell. The actress (who starred opposite Maureen O & # 39; Farrell, Fiona Hendley and Eva Mottley and now has a recurring role as Cora Cross in EastEnders) sent a note asking if she could participate, in some way, in the film .

She has a pure cameo that does not speak and I have to make sure I'm at the opening of the BFI London Film Festival on October 10 to see how the audience reacts. (The film is released in general release here on November 9)

McQueen and his frequent collaborator Iain Canning of See Saw Films fired on Widows last summer, a month before a wave of explosive sexual assaults and accusations of misconduct broke out in Hollywood.

Even so, re-reading my set conversation notes, it is strange how many people mentioned gender equality and race. "I can not remember if I've ever seen a movie about four women who are taking control of their own destiny," Debicki told me as we chatted during morning tea at the Soho House in Chicago.

Erivo, born in London, who won a Tony Award for the musical The Color Purple on Broadway, and who was making his first film, marveled at the fact that there were "one, two, three, four" women (he counted them in his fingers), so socially and racially different.

Rodriguez was skeptical at first. It's supposed to be about female empowerment, but it's called Widows! So they are defined, literally, by the fact that they lost their husbands. "

Initially, he took her away from the movie. "I would never make a weak woman, who trusts her man for everything, Urgh, I want to throw up, that would be my first reaction." But then she thought of McQueen, "not a man who sees only one dimension."

She met him and they warmed each other at the same time.

"There's something beautiful about the premise of the movie that four women depended on the men in their lives, and now they have to depend on each other," he told me.

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