Just because you win Best Picture at the Academy Awards doesn’t mean you are above reproach.
At least, that’s the truth according to Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom writer William Nicholson, who believes that the success of 12 Years a Slave directly led to his movie’s critical and box office failure. Speaking at the Hay Festival in Wales this weekend, Nicholson said that moviegoers were “so exhausted feeling guilty about slavery that I don’t think there was much left over to be nice about our film.”
And he wasn’t done there. He later went on to say that 12 Years a Slave “sucked up all the guilt about black people,” and that Mandela himself was a bit dull.
Wait, what? One of the most galvanizing leaders in world history was boring?
“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 feel asleep,” Nicholson said, “Suddenly the word came through that he died. We were deluged with Mandela stuff and after a week we all thought, please, take it away, we’ve heard enough about Mandela.”
Call us crazy, but if he felt this way about Mandela, maybe he shouldn’t have written the movie? Or maybe, rather than just say that Mandela was boring, he should have, you know, done his job and written the character to be more interesting?
Nicholson seems to have totally missed the irony of him criticizing the movie, considering that he’s the one who wrote it. At least, though, he’s now done one thing that the movie failed to do: generate some buzz.