Actor Jeffrey Wright Recalls Being Replaced By A Voice Double After Refusing To Censor The N-Word In A Previous Role: ‘It [Was] Such A Self-Empowering Statement’
Movie star Jeffrey Wright recently reflected on a time when he had to take a moral stance in his career.
The “Westworld” star shared he was once asked to censor a derogatory word regarding race in order to appease a certain viewing audience, which he ultimately refused to do.
Jeffrey Wright, 58, explained how the situation went down during a recent promotional conversation for his new movie “American Fiction.” While speaking with costars Tracee Ellis Ross, Sterling K. Brown, and Erika Alexander, the entertainer shared how during a re-recording for his 1999 movie “Ride with the Devil,” he was asked to use a substitution for part of the script that included the n-word. The Western drama is about a freed Black man fighting in an informal Confederate militant group during the Civil War. Studio execs allegedly wanted him to leave out the term in an alternative version of the movie they were making for airplane passengers.
However, Wright said the adjustment was one he simply wasn’t willing to make. According to him, the terminology was too powerful of a moment and was a critical part of his character’s “awakening.” He elaborated:
“In this scene in which he has kind of the apex of his awakening, 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—–,’…It’s such a self empowering, empowering statement and understanding of the word.”
Going on to explain his decision to walk away after being asked to cut the dialogue, he continued:
“they [said] the [N-word] here, we’d like to change that to Negro or whatever the choice was…And I said, ‘Nah, nah that’s not happening,’ and I headed out the door to my car…They found some other [actor] to come in and do that one word, apparently, so that the airplane folk would be comfy and in the darkness of their own ignorance of the language of race.”
Looking at his stellar career, it doesn’t seem that Wright’s decision to walk away at that time tainted his ability to succeed in Hollywood. The actor has gone on to secure major movie roles in box office hits such as “Cadillac Records” (2008), “The Hunger Games (2013),” and “The Batman (2022),” as well as recurring roles on TV hits like “Boardwalk Empire” and HBO’s “Westworld.”
To date, Wright has also received notable accolades for his performances. His awards include a Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe, as well as a Tony. One report notes that he is even receiving Oscar nomination buzz for his role in the newly released “American Fiction.” The movie, which is a different and modern take on the relationship of race and American entertainment, has a synopsis that reads:
“Monk (Wright) is a frustrated novelist who’s fed up with the establishment that profits from Black entertainment that relies on tired and offensive tropes. To prove his point, he uses a pen name to write an outlandish Black book of his own, a book that propels him to the heart of hypocrisy and the madness he claims to disdain.”
“American Fiction” is playing now in theaters.
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