Mandela Screenwriter: 12 Years a Slave 'Sucked Up All the Guilt'

Mandela Screenwriter

Mandela Screenwriter: 12 Years a Slave 'Sucked Up All the Guilt'

William Nicholson rationalizes his film's poor performance.

Published June 4, 2014

It's no secret that Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom didn't make quite the splash the filmmakers may have been expecting, and now the film's writer is raising eyebrows with his theories as to why. William Nicholson, who wrote the screenplay for the Mandela biopic, starring Idris Elba, says 12 Years a Slave is why his movie didn't win any awards.

Nicholson recently told an audience at a British literary convention that director Steve McQueen's Oscar-winning film "sucked up all the guilt about Black people that was available."

"I think it worked superbly," Nicholson said about his film. "But [Americans] were so exhausted feeling guilty about slavery that I don't think there was much left over to be nice about our film. So our film didn't do as well as we'd hoped, which was a bit heartbreaking."

What's more, Nicholson dares to blame Nelson Mandela's death, which occurred mere days before Long Walk to Freedom's release, for the film's lackluster performance.

"We were deluged with Mandela stuff, and after a week we all thought, 'Please take it away, we've heard enough about Mandela,'" he said. Nicholson added that Mandela's speeches were "boring."

"All but one (of the speeches in the movie) were made up by me because his own are so boring," he said. "I know it sounds outrageous to say a thing like that, but when he came out of prison he made a speech and, God, you fell asleep."

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(Photo: Ben Stevens/Barcroft Media /Landov)

Written by Evelyn Diaz


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