Jeffrey Wright Was Dubbed By Another Actor After Refusing to Censor His Use of the N-Word

For ‘Ride with the Devil’, the actor was asked to record a version of the film without saying the N-word.

Jeffrey Wright has garnered Oscar buzz with his riveting performance in the highly acclaimed film American Fiction. But the road to his success was a strenuous one, as he recalled some of the struggles he overcame while promoting the film with co-stars Tracee Ellis Ross, Sterling K. Brown, and Erika Alexander.

During the roundtable discussion with Entertainment Weekly’s “Around the Table, Wright revealed how producers replaced his voice on a project despite his protest.

“I did a movie called Ride with the Devil, and it was a film about the Civil War where I was playing a freedman, or actually a former slave working to free himself, but doing that on the side of the Confederacy, based on historical figures,” Wright said. “This took place in the Kansas-Missouri Border War, outside of the regular army.

Jeffrey Wright

Jeffrey Wright: December 7 - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire actor turns 48.(Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Jeffrey Wright: "I'm Not Afraid to Play the Villain"

"In this scene in which he has this, kind of the apex of his awakening and his need to emancipate himself, he says, 'Being that man's friend was no more than being his n-----. And I will never again be anyone's n-----,'' Wright continued. "And it's such a self-empowering statement and understanding of the word."

The studios that produced the film (based on the novel Woe to Live On by Daniel Woodrell) eventually revealed that the decision to censor Wright was hatched by a marketing plan for the project. It was determined that the use of the N-word internationally would be a bit risky for their target audiences.

RELATED: 'American Fiction' Cast Discusses Satirical Mirror of Racism in Hollywood and Personal Experiences.

The movie was distributed by USA Films and co-produced by Universal Studios and Good Machine Productions and according to Wright, they believed the film would be “a little more palatable for whoever their target audience is in Iowa, or wherever, at least in their mind” if the N-word was redacted.

Sticking to his guns, Wright refused to delete the N-word in this instance just to make certain audiences feel more comfortable, despite the horrific reality of slavery and the use and legacy of the word.

“Then they had me come do the airplane version of dialogue. There were a few curse words and this and that, and then with the word n***** they said: ‘We’d like to change that to negro,’ or whatever the choice was. And I said, ‘Nah. That’s not happening,” Wright said

“I headed out the door to my car. And they found some other actor to come in and do that one word, apparently, so that the airplane folk would be comfy in the darkness of their own ignorance around the language of race. It was so crazy,” he explained.

More than 25 years later, Wright is able to tackle issues of race head-on in American Fiction, but in a completely different way. In the film, Wright plays Thelonious "Monk" Ellison, a frustrated writer who authors a stereotypical novel as a joke that goes on to be more popular than he ever could have imagined. 

American Fiction is currently playing in theaters across the country.

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.