Jeffrey Wright revealed the studio behind the 1999 film Ride with the Devil hired a replacement actor after he refused to overdub the N-word from his dialogue in a scene.
Wright was speaking with his American Fiction co-stars for Entertainment Weekly‘s “Around the Table” series when he made the behind-the-scenes revelation. The Ang Lee-directed film sees the 58-year-old actor playing a former slave working toward his freedom while fighting on the side of the Confederacy.
The Emmy-winner points out that the movie was based on historical figures to help explain why he viewed the moment where his character says the N-word twice as a “self-empowering statement and understanding of the word.”
Wright was later asked by the studio to censor the word with a more palatable term for the “airplane version” of the film, but he refused.
“I said, ‘Nah. Nah, it’s not happening,'” the Westworld alum recalled. “And I headed out the door and to my car, and 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.”
The revelation left co-star Tracee Ellis Ross visibly shocked as she grabbed Wright’s shoulder and said, “No they did not! Are you serious?”