Actor Jeffrey Wright said that he refused to be censored in a film he acted in when a movie studio tried to convince him not to say the N-word and even opted to hire another actor to do a voice over for just a single word.
Wright, who has starred in hit shows like “Westworld” and film franchises that include “The Batman” and James Bond, recalled working on the film “Ride with the Devil” that starred actor Tobey Maguire.
Wright told Variety that he refused to censor his dialogue in one scene, which had him playing a former slave who was fighting for his freedom.
“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 recalled. “And it’s such a self-empowering statement and understanding of the word.”
“The studio at the time was so conflicted about how we market it. Ultimately, they decided we don’t need to market it at all,” Wright added. “Then they had me come do the airplane version of the dialogue.”
An airplane version is described by How to Geek as a version of a movie meant to be shown on flight that has edited out any controversial or alarming content that viewers may not want to see on a plane. “References to terrorists, plane crashes, and the like” are usually cut, with airlines typically not showcasing movies where such themes are the focal point of the plot.
“They said, ‘The [N-word] here, we’d like to change that to negro’ or whatever the choice was,” Wright continued. “I said, ‘Nah. That’s not happening.'”
The 58-year-old then stated that the movie studio decided to cast another actor to do a voiceover for the sole purpose of replacing the audio of Wright saying just the single word.
“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,” he explained.
According to the film’s Wikipedia page, the production company was Good Machine, while the distribution company was USA Films. Wright did not mention specifically which company he was referring to.
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