British screenwriter William Nicholson, who wrote the screenplay for the biopic “Nelson Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom” starring Idris Elba, claims his film failed because of the success of “12 Years A Slave.” Nicholson stated that all of the “guilt” associated with the oppression of Black people was “sucked up” by the critically acclaimed film, adding that as reason why his motion picture never stood a chance.
Nicholson, 66, spoke at the Hay Festival in Wales as reported by The Telegraph and shared his thoughts on why his film didn’t garner the respect from the Academy Awards selection committees and the like. Twice nominated for Oscars in the past, Nicholson felt he had a sure thing with the Mandela film but was let down.
Nicholson speaking from the Hay Festival:
“12 Years a Slave came out in America and that sucked up all the guilt about black people that was available. They 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. I really thought it was going to win lots of awards, partly because it’s a good story but also because I thought I’d done a really good job and the director had done a really good job. So it has been very tough for me. Some things work and some things don’t. You just have to soldier on.”
Nicholson labored on the script for the biopic for 15 years, handing in a staggering 33 drafts until it was approved. During the interview, Nicholson also stated that he wrote all but one of the speeches that appeared in the film and added that Mandela’s own speeches were “not very good” by his estimation.